Spread across 2.50 lakhs sq.ft. of retail space, Asansol Sentrum – Bengal Shristi Infrastructure Development, is the largest shopping centre in Asansol. The mall has several international and national brand outlets and offers exclusive restaurants and food courts to its visitors. With ample car parking space available for everyone, the mall is very popular amongst the Millennials in the region. Sahil Saharia, Chief Executive Officer, Bengal Shristi talks about the expansion plans of the brand in Tier II & III cities and towns.
From a developer point, how do you choose a location for expansion in a Tier II & III cities?
There are several factors that have prompted developers to choose Tier II and III cities for expansion plans. Firstly, the huge untapped market and consumer base in Tier II and III cities have attracted developers. Retail sector is one of the top three employers in the country, the employability factor is another important point that has propelled the development of the retail sector in Tier II and III cities as these cities are brimming with Millennials looking for employment opportunities. Also, with the advent of the Internet and India being the country with the highest number of mobile users, the aspiration factor in Tier II and III cities is high, which in turn has generated a demand for branded fashion, food and entertainment. This demand has paved the path for developers to venture into Tier II and III cities with expansion plans.
How different is the retail catchment in these cities in comparison to Tier I and metro cities?
In terms of retail catchment, Tier II and III cities are quite different from Tier I and Metro cities. Tier I & III cities are slightly more price sensitive compared to metro cities, so the retail mix in malls are a combination of national and local brands. Value formats do really well in these cities.
Do you have separate marketing strategies for different cities?
Marketing strategies are obviously different for Tier II and III cities. Tier II and III cities have a different target group that requires a more direct and targeted strategy. For Tier II cities, we focus more on creating awareness of our brands locally.
What attracts more crowds in Tier II cities – the lure of shopping or the FEC segment?
The FEC segment is rapidly gaining popularity in Tier II and III cities. While entertainment plays a pivotal role in attracting footfalls in the mall, branded shopping has the aspiration factor associated with it that drives more crowds to the mall. So, both the segments hold equal importance in these cities.
Do you think international brands make for a good business there in comparison to national brands?
While international brand presence escalates the mall in terms of value proposition, in Tier II and III cities, it’s the national brands that appeal more to the customers because of their affordability and value for money.
Have you added any new technologies in the mall? Do you plan to in the future?
In our consistent endeavor to make the mall more appealing and sophisticated, we constantly engage in adding new and state of the art technologies and features in terms of audiovisuals and marketing communication. In terms of safety and security, we have deployed state of the art technologies as well.
What are the new factors that were added, or will be added for the benefit of tenants / retailers / brands in the mall?
One of our major focus areas is customers’ and retailers’ delight. For the first time in Eastern India, Sentrum Mall, Asansol has ventured into the initiative of rewarding and recognizing the retailers, both LFR and standalone format, through the Sentrum Mall Retailers’ Awards. This annual awards event helps us in recognising the brands’ efforts throughout the year. We are also active digitally and on social media. We have our dedicated Facebook page where we showcase mall activities, news and events from time to time and also showcase the seasonal offers from the retailers operational at the mall.