Logistics firm Bhumika Enterprises has forayed into retail real estate in Rajasthan, making its mixed-use development there a destination like no other. The brand is in the process of developing shopping mall projects in various cities of Rajasthan including Udaipur and Alwar. The aim of the company is to build quality commercial, retail and hospitality spaces with a focus on the shopping centre industry.
The group is committed to its theme of ‘After Here Nowhere’, which stands for the creation of mixed-use developments that bring retail, hospitality and commercial office space under one roof. They are planning several similar projects in other major cities of Rajasthan as well as other cities adjoining the NCR Delhi.
In an exclusive chat with Shopping Centre News, Shubojeet Pakrasi, Senior Vice President- Leasing, Bhumika Enterprises Private Limited talks about the vision and the aim of the brand as well as about its upcoming malls in Tier II cities.
Tell us about the projects which are in final phase as if now?
Currently we are working on two projects, one is in Udaipur and the other at Alwar, which we will be announcing soon. These two projects are in very advanced stages. Out of these, the one in Udaipur has been generating a major buzz. This mixed use development project is one of the largest developments in Rajasthan with an approximate area of 18 lakh sq. ft.. Of this, the mall has a retail space of over 5 lakh sq. ft. Apart from this we have a Holiday Inn with about 200 keys, an Oyo Silver Keys with 77 keys and we are currently in talks with a Swiss hotel for another 101 keys.
Urban Square will be a complete destination, ‘big-box destination’, where the focus will be on stronger anchor brands. We are bringing many national and international brands under one roof, brands that will be making their debut in Udaipur through our mall. As of now, the vanilla store section is smaller since much of the space is dedicated to anchor brands.
Our project in Alwar is going to be the first commercial project in the area. This will be a smaller mall since Alwar is a smaller town in comparison to Udaipur, with an area of 2 lakh sq.ft. The mall will have an INOX with six screens and a 20,000 sq. ft. Shoppers Stop store. Alongside this, there will be a food court catering to the general needs and to the tastes of the people of Alwar.
Tell us about the progress of the mall on the parameters of construction, approvals, leasing and fitouts?
The year 2019 has been very good for us as we got very good responses from brands for both of our projects. The journey has been encouraging with big brands and players joining hands. This has made us realise that we are on the right track and moving in a focused direction. The amount of response which we have received tells that our mall branding and zoning has been accurate. The mall is in final phase of construction and we are hoping to handout fitouts for the anchor brands in coming September-October 2020, followed by vanilla stores. We are looking for a grand launch in 2021 January.
From a developer point, how do you choose a location for expansion in Tier II & III cities? Why did you pick Udaipur, Jaipur and Alwar for instance?
All the research and survey conducted in the last four to five years clearly indicates that Tier II & III cities have shown us tremendous developments and acceptance of brands. A lot credit for this development is given to the aspirational and Millennial crowd living in these cities. They know all about brands and trends and are also clear on what is best suited for them. They are as aware as people living in metros and Tier I cities. Therefore, launching a mall in Tier II & III cities is actually a good option.
Another thing to keep in mind is that mall development is more or less a demand supply case. If there is demand, the mall will be a success no matter which area it is located in. And then, Tier II cities have an edge over the land quantity and price. In Tier I cities, land and space is very hard to get, or if you get land, you don’t get it in your preferred location.
The land price and rentals are very high in comparison to that in Tier II & III cities, where land is abundant and local and civic bodies are more conscious, encouraged and motivated to work along with the mall developers.
With the announcing of ‘smart cities’ all over India,all cities need malls to establish themselves as a landmark city. Smaller cities and towns look forward to developments like ours, big-box constructions, as one of the ways to reach this landmark point. Big malls, brands and FECs also help in developing a paradigm shift in the thought process of local bodies.
How different is the retail catchment in these cities in comparison to Tier I and metro cities?
The catchment in these cities in comparison to metro cities is very different. These regions are quite small with have an average population of 6-10 lakh sq. ft.
The peripherical circumference of the city generally has the newer, aspirational and upper middle class living and most of the development is happening in this space. This city center is very dense and there is almost no scope to start big projects here. Our priority is to be located as close to this point as possible – not more than 5 kms away – to be easily accessible to the masses.
Even the consumers living far away should be able to reach our mall in a maximum of 45 minutes – that’s how accessible we want to be. This is our approach as far as projects in Udaipur, Alwar and Jaipur are concerned.
Do you have separate marketing and mall strategies for different cities?
Yes, we have a different strategy for every city. There are certain factors that need to be changed keeping the region and area in mind. Zoning is one such factor. We cannot start a new mall in Tier II city with the typical zoning format of a Tier I city. The mix has to be completely different, catering to the kind of people living in an area. There needs to be a good balance between aspirational brands and other brands so that there is something for everyone, to bring in the most footfalls to the mall. We believe in providing shops, products, food and entertainment for everyone, not just a certain section of society. A person buying stuff worth Rs 500 should get the same satisfaction as a person buying products worth Rs 10,000 to Rs 15000.
What attracts more crowd in Tier II cities– shopping or the FEC segment?
To keep the footfalls rolling in the mall, one needs a perfect balance of both retail and entertainment. However, to be honest, FECs area big draw in Tier II cities since cinema, food and game zones have replaced block shopping to a large extent with people living in these cities and beyond are already connected to the world of online shopping. All malls – be they in Tier I, II or III cities – are following the trend of allocating 60-65 percent of their space to the FEC segment. Our FEC partners are TimeZone and INOX.
Have you added any new technologies in the mall?
Yes, we are implementing quite a few technological innovations in our malls. We plan to have Augmented Reality (AR) corners. AR will be helping us in mall management and also in providing other services. The entire mall will be on the user’s phone – which will be linked not just to the mall’s shopping components, but also to the food court. People can book a table and place their order when they are moving out of their homes to come to the mall.