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Shopping Centres as a complete lifestyle destination and the third home

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Such is the influence of the shopping centres and modern retail in today’s world that people are identifying retail spaces as their third home. Customers want to be close to and attached to retail spaces – either in real life or on social media. With no end in sight for the rise of online shopping, never has it been more important for retailers, shopping centre developers, city planners, and communities to work together to create a new ecosystem of lifestyle destinations.

At the India Retail Forum 2017 – held on September 19 and 20, 2017 in Mumbai – experts from the shopping mall industry, entertainment and F&B sector met to debate on ‘Creating a New Paradigm for the Success of Urban Centres: Our Shopping Centres as a Complete Lifestyle Destination and a Third Home’ powered by Benoy. From rethinking the genesis of shopping centres, redesigning spaces, and bringing in innovative concepts, the session discussed ideas focused on building a modern ecosystem for new a retail real estate landscape where F& B, leisure and entertainment will play a crucial role.

The panel included Alok Tandon, CEO, Inox;  Amit Sharma, Managing Director, Miraj Entertainment; Antoine Guillorit, Head of International Development, LINA’S (France);  Bipin Gurnani, CEO, Prozone Intu;  Bernard Chiew, Managing Director – Asia Pacific, ILLYCAFFÈ (Italy); Jonathan Yach, Director – Operations, Virtuous Retail; Mukesh Kumar, Sr. Vice President, Infiniti Mall; Prashant Kanoria, CEO, Unisport India (India partner of QubicaAMF); Rajneesh Mahajan, CEO, Inorbit Malls; Stuart Rough, Group Chairman, Broadway Malyan; Tushar Dhingra, Chief Executive Officer, Smaaash Entertainment. The debate was moderated by Pankaj Renjhen, MD Retail Services, JLL and Terence Seah, Director, Benoy (UK) who also gave the lead context-setting presentation.

Seah started the session with a presentation talking about the history and evolution of the shopping centers and malls in the modern time.  He categorized the history of malls in three phases, mainly ‘Then Pre-Millennium (1830-2010), Now Millennium malls (2010-2017) and Future Bespoke malls (2018 onwards).’ Even before the Pre-Millennium era, in most part of the world, retail was the part of the open street market thing and this concept is yet again coming back in modern era now. After few years, someone thought of putting a roof over it and Arcade market came into existence. After this, the concept of US strips malls, which were uni-layered non-engaging type of market build out of the towns. However, the introduction of open food courts, introduced a revolutionary concept of infusing food into the retail and this adaptation, changed the face of the shopping mall industry.

This led to the introduction of mega malls in dense cities, that were fully integrated with commercial and leisure offerings. Many city centres in Europe, started building and renovating malls with themes discovering the beauty and history of the respective cities as they provided integrated environment to express animation and interest, both for the brand as well as individually.  He also mentioned the need to adapt the trend of not building a new mall every now and then, but in reality, use the old building to your advantage.

Adding weight to this, Stuart Rough said, “The need of the hour is to refurbish and reposition the existing shopping centers. This need comes from within, urbanization, online threats and the fierce competitions. Content is changing every now and then. Leisure, entertainment, F&B and fine dining has increased the mix juice elements of the shopping centers. Urbanization factor has made repositioning of shopping centres more comfortable.”

Emphasizing on how the nature of market and behavior of customer going to these shopping centres changes from city to city, Rajneesh Mahajan said, “Buying behaviour is different. Certain category will do very well in a particular area whereas it won’t get the same impact in the different part of the same city. Daily basis correction is done by the retailer, based on neighbourhood requirement and the local market whereas habitation and people living in the area matters to an extent.”

Bipin Gurnani, drew parallel lines for shopping centres in Tier II cities.  “Internet and media actually have brought a lot of exposure to the Tire II population. The customers there are having more and more aspiration and expectation desires. Managing expectation and aspiration of such unique demands is a very tough task. So, a proper research and planning are needed before making a huge investment in Tier II cities. Terence Seah supported the argument and said “People like big brands but that doesn’t mean it is the whole offer. Local brands with spice and charged with social events in the picture are also a successful recipe for the shampooing centre in both Tier I and II cities.

Tasha Hangar highlighted the need for games as a part of entertainment in the shopping centers. “We give gender neutral, age neutral and geography neutral centers. We curate and build our games. We core the fusion to play and we engage at a different level which involves social engagement angle that is entirely new.  We also have games for students and corporate people for weekly and weekend crowds.”

Seah concluded the discussion by mentioning a quick note, “New malls in trend are ‘Neighbour Hubs’ which allow people to do whatever they want to do. The important thing is to connect with the Ethos (the brand story), Identity (both physical and digital) and Interaction as a communication tool.  Today the shopping centre is not just a shopping centre, it is a new social community centre.”

(With inputs from Sandeep Kumar)

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