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Entertainment & F&B vital for malls: Irfan Razack of Prestige Group

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In addition, developers should prioritize zoning, merchandising, and marketing to drive footfall and overall success said Irfan Razack, chairman of the Prestige Group at Shopping Centres Next 2023 in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: When designing shopping malls for the future, the emphasis should be on creating touchpoints, enhancing entertainment options, and incorporating more food and beverage outlets according to Irfan Razack, chairman and managing director of Prestige Group, a South India-based leading property development company that has completed 285 projects spanning a developable area of 170 million square feet (sq. ft.) as of June 2023.

“Shopping becomes a secondary aspect, with the experience taking the forefront.

Instead of concentrating solely on architecture, developers should prioritize zoning, merchandising, and marketing as crucial factors to drive increased footfall and overall success,” Razack added.

He was speaking with Bijou Kurien, chairman of Retailers Association of India (RAI), the apex body of retailers in the country at a fireside chat on the second day of IMAGES Group’s Shopping Centres Next 2023 at the Conrad Hotel in Bengaluru.

On mall-retailer partnerships

The conversation began with a question from Kurien about the challenges faced by retailers and developers when it comes to working together and maintaining a strong partnership. This inquiry likely stemmed from the recognition that collaboration between these two key players in the retail industry is essential for success, but it can also be fraught with challenges.

“Today’s shoppers have undergone a significant transformation, and their motivations extend beyond mere shopping; they seek an immersive experience of opulence. Consequently, developers and retailers must join forces, pooling their efforts to thrive in this highly competitive environment,” said Razack.

According to him, the success of a shopping centre now hinges on the synergistic partnership between these two crucial stakeholders.

Developers must craft captivating environments that offer convenience in parking, payment, and more, while also delivering not just products but an ambience of luxury and entertainment to engage visitors. Retailers, on the other hand, need to curate unique and memorable experiences that go beyond transactions, turning shopping trips into something special.

On fulfilling social needs

In response to Kurian’s question regarding the evolving nature of consumers, the impact of e-commerce, technological advancements, and the proliferation of multiple sales channels, Razack emphasized the enduring importance of social interaction even in the digital age. This insight likely centred on the idea that while technology and e-commerce have transformed the retail landscape, people still have a fundamental need for social connection and shared experiences.

“Even before the pandemic, there was a prevalent belief that the rise of e-commerce would render traditional malls obsolete. However, the reality has shown that humans are inherently social beings, and this social aspect of shopping continues to drive people out to experience more in physical environments,” said Razack.

On evolving cityscapes

Furthermore, Kurian inquired about the evolving nature of cities and how Indian suburban retail spaces are emerging as successful contenders in the changing landscape.

“Cities and metros are vast, and every suburb requires its own self-sustaining ecosystem. When we launched The Forum Mall in South Bengaluru, it was situated in a suburban area. However, the surprising aspect was the footfall we received right from the start, ranging from 80,000 to 10,000 visitors, which was truly astounding,” explained Razack.

Shopping malls thrive and prosper by becoming integral parts of the communities residing around them, making them daily destinations,” he added.

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