The only constant in the retail industry is ‘change’. And this holds most true for malls since for them, refurbishment is not a trend, it is a necessity. It is the duty of shopping centre developers and the mall management to keep an eye on the centre’s performance as well as on external parameters that might impact the future of the business and investment. Undoubtedly, refurbishment, repositioning and expansion play a major role in determining the success of a shopping mall and it is essential to understand and know when it is the right time to go in for a complete makeover.
One such mall, which has made the right choice by studying all factors is South City Mall (SCM), Kolkata. The management decided to shut down the mall last year for renovation and reopened it partially (80 percent) in January 2018 after adding some major make overs – making the mall safe and environment-friendly.
The mall has upgraded its back-end infrastructure to the latest advanced technology. It has also reduced the number of units by 20 percent despite increasing the retail area. The new mall will cover an area of 1.2 million sq.ft.
“SCM has always been one of the most popular malls in Eastern India. We always work to give our shoppers and patrons a great experience. We take pride in being SCM and the renovation is a big part of it. SCM is the first mall in India to take this bold step – shutting down for a year to refurbish the entire mall. Contrary to views that the mall would lose its charm, the wait for it to reopen has made it one of the most eagerly awaited malls in Kolkata,” says Man Mohan Bagree, Vice President, South City Mall elaborating on the importance and role refurbishment plays in increasing the popularity of the mall.
The mall has gone ‘green’ (environment-friendly) during the refurbishment process:
– All the lighting are LED
– Recycled water is used in the toilets
– New smart cooling towers have been installed for air-conditioning
– Advanced IP-based CCTV has been set-up
– Upgraded fire sensors and detectors have been fi tted into the mall
– Video panels have been installed on escalators
– Video walls are being created in corridors and will be launched shortly in the new food court, which is expected to launch in April 2018
SCM is also taking the food experience to a new level by introducing a ‘Community Center for Food Lovers’ in place of the old-style food court.
Zoning, Themes & Concepts
SCM follows the zoning concept thoroughly. The mall management has noticed that if a mall is zoned properly, it always works better.
One floor is entirely dedicated to the electronics, gadgets and travel gear. Another floor has the beauty cosmetics and accessories. Apart from this a full floor has been dedicated to international fashion, one to footwear and men’s fashion and a floor each to women’s and kids wear. “We quite like the idea of theme malls too but feel that if a theme is not changed every 4-5 years by the mall developer, then it becomes stale. A new theme and a new concept brings freshness and new life to the property but also, gives shoppers new experience/theme,” says Bagree.
The refurbishment promises to bring South City Mall closer to the hearts of the people of Kolkata as it boasts of being a mix to the city’s culture, tradition and heritage. With the presence of premium, international and aspirational brands the mall aspires to fulfill the demands of consumers of all age groups.
“Eighty percent of the mall has already been leased and 20 percent more of premium brands will be added by the end of March 2018,” says Bagree.
He adds that SCM is introducing new (and much awaited) brands for the first time in the city, including Forever 21, Starbucks, Sephora, GAP, MI-Xiaomi, Fossil, Wacoal, Hunkemollar, Zivame, Tom Tailor, Harley Davidson, ASICS, DC Shoes and Soch to name just a few.
“The future of retail is Omnichannel. The trend towards an Omnichannel strategy will certainly enable us to grow in the business. It will tap the best of both worlds and maximise on footfalls in the mall. Our new avatar is omni-friendly for sure, and while we haven’t launched it yet, Omnichannel services will be an integral part of SCM 2.0,” said Bagree.
Future of Retail in East India
East India is one of the biggest markets for retail growth in the coming decade and the mall industry is growing, getting stronger by the day. The city of Kolkata has come a long way in terms of retail maturity with a plethora of brands, both international and national, paving the way for greater organization of the sector across the region. Shopping trends in and around the city are witnessing a fundamental shift, from the conventional trader-run standalone shops to more organised and large retail formats. And South City Mall promises to be a big part of this fundamental change in retail in the region.