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We’re new in the business, but we’re here for the long run: Uddhav Poddar of Urban Square Mall

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Uddhav Poddar, managing director of Bhumika Realty recently launched the 1.8 million sq. ft. Urban Square mall, the first big shopping centre in Udaipur speaks about how the mall marks the beginning of new consumption patterns in the city

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Udaipur: Udaipur has always experienced brisk retail business, thanks to its popularity as a tourist destination that attracts visitors from all across the globe. With seven malls operational across the city, Udaipur, the second most popular tourist destination in Rajasthan after Jaipur, is also home to modern retail. The city just had a fresh addition to its retail landscape in the form of Urban Square mall, which at 1.8 million sq. ft. is touted as the largest mall in the city.

From a six-screen cinema to a 200-room hotel and numerous retail stores and food giants, the mall offers a good combination of retail and hospitality options. It also boasts of mural paintings that hold a world record. 89 stores on a total of 7 floors are 100% leased out ahead of phase 2.

Developed by Bhumika Group, which has a pan-India presence, the first phase of the mall opened its doors to the public in November 2022. The group is now gearing up for phase 2, which will see the introduction of 20 new brands in the city along with a wide array of entertainment options for both kids and adults.

In an exclusive chat with IndiaRetailing, Uddhav Poddar, managing director, Bhumika Realty Pvt. Ltd. shares details about the recently launched phase 1, and upcoming phase 2 of the project along with his long-term plans that include introducing new technology to track traffic movement in the mall. Excerpts…

Tell us a little about the mall, its positioning, and USP.

Urban Square is one of the largest in Rajasthan and the largest in Udaipur. It is a mixed-use project; we’ve got retail with entertainment and hospitality.

We’ve got a 20,000 sq. ft. go-karting track, which is a first in Udaipur and which is generating a lot of interest. We also have a large Smaaash with indoor cricket, a bowling alley and a six-screen cinema among other entertainment options.

Apart from retail and entertainment, we’ve got food on one full floor of about 80,000 sq. ft. with all large international quick service restaurant (QSR) chains like KFC, and Pizza Hut. There is also a highstreet market with 300 small shops within the mall called Janpath, which is for local retailers to participate in the mall. In phase 2, we are building a 200-room Holiday-Inn hotel and service apartments.

Who is your target audience?

The mall caters to visitors from the entire South Rajasthan, which doesn’t have any other large entertainment retail centre. The only other option is Jaipur, which is quite far. The three or four districts surrounding Udaipur all feed off the city for their shopping, travel and education needs. Apart from that, the mall will also cater to the traffic which goes to Nathwara from Gujarat and the main Delhi-Mumbai highway. Our hotel so will cater to that traffic as well.

Who are your anchor tenants?

There are seven or eight anchors including Shopper Stop, Max, Pantaloons, Reliance Trends and a hypermarket. Lifestyle will open soon. Of course, Smaaash and the cinema are also anchor in their own way.

Which brands are you bringing to Udaipur/Rajasthan for the first time?

Shoppers Stop is coming to Udaipur for the first time are Lifestyle, Burger King, Taco Bell, Forest Essentials, Rare Rabbit, Meena Bazaar, Market99 and Wow China among others…there are 20 brands which are coming for the first time in Udaipur.

What is going to be the composition of the mall?

Retail is about 3,00,000 sq. ft., which includes the cinema and entertainment. Food is about 70,000 sq. ft. So, largely, food is 20- 25% and entertainment will be around 20-25%.

Urban Square Mall, Udaipur
Urban Square Mall, Udaipur

How much footfall do you expect?

We opened 30% of the mall to the public a couple of months back. And, we’re already seeing about 6,000-7,000 people coming in. We expect the weekly numbers to go up to 15,000 and the weekend numbers to be about 30,000 as we fully open the mall.

We expect at least 20% of F&B business to come from tourists.

How have you used technology in the mall?

What we’ve done is pretty much is what most A-grade malls do. However, we’re in talks with a company based in UAE, which will help us track the movement of traffic on different floors and in different zones of the mall. That will help us in effectively directing the traffic in a certain direction. Hopefully, we’ll have the technology in the next two or three months.

How has the consumer in Rajasthan/Udaipur changed over the years?

With the internet and social media, the young generation in all tier 2 towns get the same exposure that youth in a metro city get. They have the same aspirations as those in the large towns. What we’re seeing in Udaipur is that brands which are coming new like Rare Rabbit are doing exceptionally good sales. The brands which have come for the first time are aspirational. Even if they’re expensive, they’re doing better than the brands which are already here and which offer low-value products. This is a substantial shift. Also, this market is rich. Udaipur is a mining belt of Rajasthan and people have a lot of money. Despite being a small town, it has BMW, Mercedes and Audi showrooms. This shows the kind of money that is there in this market.

What are the three main priorities for your brand in the coming years?

Our first priority will be to launch phase two in the next three to three and a half years. We’ve already tied up one anchor and are in talks with three other international anchors though we won’t be able to accommodate all three due to space constraints. We already have seven anchors; we’ll get two more there.

And we’re bringing a lot of international brands for the first time in the second phase. The mall is fully leased, and we have a long list of brands wanting to come to phase two.

Apart from the new brands that we’re bringing, we want to create this centre as a place where people come to spend time and enjoy and not just shop. We created two mural paintings, which hold the world record for being the largest mural painting. One is a painting of Bollywood celebrities, and the other one is of a joker in Rajasthani attire. These are places where people will take selfies. Also, people will connect with the mall with these kinds of things. We intend to do a lot of other things like this.

Details about your upcoming projects and expansion plans?

We’ve exited The Urban Square Galleria project in Alwar. We sold our stake because we found that the market and the size of the asset were too small. But we’re looking at two more opportunities in Rajasthan, one in Jaipur, and one in another town. We are in an advanced discussion for land acquisition and one is at a very premium location.

Eventually, we want to be serious mall developers, mall players, and operators. We’re new in the business, but we are here for the long run.[/bs_input_restrict]

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