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Achieving Rs. 100 crore a month revenue gave us wings to soar higher: V Muhammad Ali, Forum Malls

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Sandeep Kumar
Sandeep Kumar
A multimedia journalist with over eleven years of experience in print and digital media, Sandeep Kumar is assistant editor with Images Group. Books, retail, sports and cinema are an inextricable part of his life.

V Muhammad Ali, CEO Forum Malls, Prestige Group, speaks about Forum South Bengaluru entering the Big Billion Club and upcoming projects under Forum 2.0

In the bustling landscape of Bengaluru, Prestige Group stands tall as a pioneer in creating shopping and entertainment hubs. The journey began in 2004 with the iconic Forum Mall at Koramangala, a landmark destination that redefined the city’s retail experience. Since its establishment, Forum as a brand has been synonymous with convenience and innovation, setting the benchmark for mall developments in the country. However, the ambitions extended beyond one success story and over the next 16 years, the Forum brand was extended across 11 malls in six cities. V Muhammad Ali, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Forum Malls, Prestige Group compares the group’s metamorphosis to that of a butterfly. “Beginning as a caterpillar with the inception of the first mall, we have metamorphosed through various stages of development, emerging as a butterfly with the launch of new, innovative properties. This evolution signifies the advent of Malls 2.0, a new wave that we are currently riding with great enthusiasm and high spirits,” he said.

Forum 2.0

The Group built malls, sold them, and is now rebuilding with renewed vigour and innovative concepts, blazing into its exciting second phase of mall development—Forum 2.0. “Forum 2.0 was the vision that spurred the development and opening of Forum South Bengaluru in December 2022 to redefine urban retail experiences,” recalled Ali.

Within a year of its grand opening, in December 2023, Forum South Bengaluru achieved a record gross turnover of Rs.108 crore, a testament to its unparalleled popularity, success, and commitment. “Achieving the milestone of Rs. 100 crore a month to become a part of the elite Big Billion Mall Club, within the inaugural year gave us wings to soar higher into Phase 2 of development. It also solidified our position as a premier shopping destination in Bengaluru,” said Ali. The success of Forum South Bengaluru underscores Prestige Group’s commitment to innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction. Located in the centre of South.

Bengaluru, Forum South Bengaluru is spread over an area of 1 million sq. ft. Comprising vast open spaces, a luxurious shopping experience, an auditorium and a well-ventilated food court, the mall is a preferred shopping destination for all age groups. The mall’s architectural grandeur, diverse retail offering, and top-class amenities cater to the diverse needs and tastes of its discerning clientele, ensuring an unparalleled experience at every turn. This premium shopping destination of South Bengaluru serves as a vibrant community hub offering everything from premium brands to culinary delights to entertainment options and more. “Our visionary approach to mall development has transformed the urban landscape and redefined industry standards, inspiring a new era of innovation and excellence in a realm of shopping destinations,” Ali said. The group recently celebrated the mall’s success through ‘Comeback to a comeback,’ campaign.

In the ever evolving landscape of retail and lifestyle spaces, seldom do we get the opportunity to create, develop, rethink, reimagine, and redevelop something from the ground up. The story of Forum Malls is one such butterfly experience.

The Journey

V Muhammad Ali has been with the Prestige Group since the inception of its malls business and has over 20 years of experience in shopping centre development and management. He has played a pivotal role in launching the first organised and functional mall of the country in 2004, The Forum Koramangala—a mall that redefined shopping with a state-of-the-art 9-screen multiplex, best of fashion brands and anchors, a 12 kitchen and 700-seater food court among other highlights. His experience and expertise lie in shopping centre development, leasing, mall operations and mall management. Ali has also been instrumental in leasing and opening all the 10 shopping centres developed by Prestige Group. He has leased more than 4.5 million sq. ft. of GLA with more than 1,500 stores and has another 7 malls in the pipeline, which will have over 2,000 stores and 6.5 million sq. ft. of GLA in tier-1 cities. During his tenure he has also worked closely with CapitaLand Singapore, who had formed a JV with Prestige Group to develop and operate 5 malls. He has also been an active member of Retailers Association of India and Shopping Centre Association of India has played a key role in shaping the landscape of the retail industry in various forms. As the Chief Executive Officer, leading the Retail Division, he is spearheading the business into its next level of growth.

What is the unique selling proposition of Forum malls?

The uniqueness of Forum Malls lies in their conceptual design and sensory engagement. Unlike traditional malls, our spaces are designed to engage all five senses, providing an experience that online shopping cannot match. They are thoughtfully designed concepts, going beyond boxes and not merely offering structures filled with retail stores. Each mall is crafted with a unique theme and purpose, ensuring that it offers more than just shopping

Tell us more…

The true excitement lies not in the number of malls or their scale but in the unique concepts we are developing. We are moving away from traditional mall structures and focusing on creating engaging, experiential spaces. Whether it’s luxury, food, or open-air concepts, our malls are designed to captivate all five senses, offering a multifaceted experience that online shopping cannot replicate. Our approach involves working with various consultants, design engineers, and subject matter specialists to ensure that our malls engage shoppers fully. This sensory engagement is set to redefine the shopping experience, drawing people away from their screens and into our immersive environments.

 What’s the new buzz at Forum malls, from the consumer behaviour and trends perspective?

In addition to our unique concepts, we are focusing on the exponential growth of non-fashion categories. Food and gaming are surpassing traditional fashion in terms of space occupied and sales per square foot. For instance, we have inquiries for 100,000 square feet gaming arcades, and our food offerings are continuously surprising and delighting customers. These larger-than-life experiences are what will draw people to our malls, providing a compelling reason to step out of their homes and into our immersive environments.

 Which are your upcoming projects?

In Bengaluru, we plan to develop three more malls over the next three years. These include a 1 million sq. ft. GLA in Sarjapur as part of The Prestige City. A 0.5 million sq. ft. GLA in Whitefield featuring 50 restaurants, and another food-based mall after the success of Forum Rex Walk, Brigade Road. Additionally, we are developing a 1 million sq. ft. GLA Forum North Bengaluru near the International Airport Road, which will include the W Hotel. In Hyderabad, we are working on two malls: A 1 million sq. ft. GLA mall in The Prestige City in Rajendra Nagar, and another iconic development in the heart of the city, to be announced soon. In Mumbai, our projects include a small neighbourhood centre in Mulund and a larger, soon-to-be-unveiled property in the heart of the city. In Delhi NCR, we are developing a 0.8 million sq. ft. GLA mall, part of The Prestige City, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad. In Chennai, our projects include a 1 million sq. ft. GLA mall in OMR, Chennai, along with Moxy by Marriott. In Goa, we are planning a large food-based development. These developments will elevate our portfolio to 14 malls, totalling 10 million sq. ft. by 2027, creating diverse and innovative retail spaces.

What do you think is the future of malls in India?

The future of malls in India is bright, driven by the largest and youngest population in the world and a rapidly growing middle class. This demographic shift promises a surge in consumption, necessitating modern, well-designed retail spaces. However, older malls may face challenges as newer, more innovative properties attract the same customer base, emphasizing the need for these establishments to rejuvenate and reposition themselves.

How does Forum plan to capitalise on this?

Forum Malls 2.0 represents the future of retail in India. With our innovative concepts and ambitious expansion plans, we are poised to lead the way in creating engaging, experiential spaces that cater to the evolving needs of modern consumers. Through our focus on sensory engagement and non fashion categories, we are redefining the mall experience, ensuring that our properties remain vibrant, relevant, and at the forefront of retail innovation.

Operational Malls

Currently, the group has four operational malls in South India:

Forum South Bengaluru: At 1 million sq. ft. gross leasing area (GLA) this is the group’s largest property located in South Bengaluru.

 Forum Kochi: This is the newest addition boasting a GLA of 0.6 million sq. ft., The Artiste, Kochi a Tribute Portfolio hotel by Marriott.

Forum Rex Walk: An iconic niche food-based mall with 15 restaurants and a multiplex, devoid of fashion anchors.

The Collection at UB City: Bengaluru’s only luxury mall since 2008, housing brands like Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, and Burberry.

These four properties encompass nearly 2 million sq. ft. of retail space. However, the group aims to expand this to 14 malls, totalling 10 million sq. ft. GLA by 2027.

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