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Big­ger projects, more F&B, en­ter­tain­ment op­tions such as tram­po­line parks and sports turfs—here’s how the mall econ­omy is evolv­ing

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Prakruti Ma­niar prakruti.ma­niar@htlive.com

In­creased re­tail in­vest­ment, ex­pand­ing ci­ties, grow­ing economies in Tier II ci­ties and a shift in shop­ping and recre­ational pat­terns are driv­ing, and slowly chang­ing, In­dia’s mall econ­omy.

Af­ter a lull be­tween 2012 and 2017, driven mainly by the global eco­nomic down­turn of 2008, there’s more in­vest­ment and de­vel­oper con­fi­dence.

Over the next five years, about 90 new malls are ex­pected to come up, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by prop­erty con­sul­tants JLL In­dia ti­tled In­dian Re­tail: Step­ping up the Game.

These are planned mainly in higher-in­come met­ros such as Mum­bai, Delhi, Ben­galuru and Hyderabad, and also high growth-rate ci­ties like Lucknow, Coimbatore, Chandi­garh and Man­galuru.

There’s in­creased con­sol­i­da­tion too, with mall chains ex­pand­ing the foot­print of each es­tab­lish­ment, and smaller malls mak­ing way for gi­gan­tic spa­ces that cover sev­eral mil­lion sq ft each. “Over the past year, the ef­fects of pol­icy changes such as GST and de­mon­eti­sa­tion have eased,” says Ram Chand­nani, man­ag­ing direc­tor of ad­vi­sory and trans­ac­tion ser­vices for In­dia, at real-es­tate con­sul­tancy CBRE.

“At the same time, 100% FDI in re­tail has opened up more op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­ter­na­tional re­tail­ers to en­ter the In­dian mar­ket, which has al­ways had great po­ten­tial ow­ing to its large pop­u­la­tion and grow­ing econ­omy,” he says.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the es­tab­lish­ment of Real-Es­tate In­vest­ment Trusts (REIT) is al­low­ing de­vel­op­ers to draw in­vest­ment through more chan­nels.

“De­vel­op­ers can part­ner with in­vestors to jointly form a REIT, which can be listed too,” says Ra­jneesh Ma­ha­jan, CEO of Inor­bit Malls.

RESHUF­FLE ON THE CARDS

“Data shows that be­tween 2002 and 2008, around 100 malls came up across the coun­try,” says Anuj Puri, chair­man of Anarock Prop­erty Con­sul­tants.

This boom saw a new shop­ping cul­ture take shape in In­dia, but knowl­edge of mall man­age- ment was lim­ited and many es­tab­lish­ments fell into dis­re­pair or dis­use.

There was in­ad­e­quate park­ing, not enough toilets, stalls in­side atri­ums and lay­outs that re­sem­bled a shop­ping cen­tre from the 1980s.

Ra­jeev Jain, direc­tor of Nir­mal Life­style, re­calls build­ing the Mu­lund mall in 2003. “There was no con­cept of pro­fes­sional fa­cil­ity man­age­ment back then,” he says.

“There were sev­eral glitches. Some ar­eas would not be cleaned, air con­di­tion­ing would not func­tion prop­erly. The ini­tial days were a se­ries of trial and er­ror.” Nir­mal Life­style in Mu­lund is one of the big ones that is set for a re­vamp. “Over the next two years, we plan to build a big­ger, bet­ter de­signed one in its place,” says Jain.

“In­sti­tu­tional money has put the fo­cus on large-size, qual­ity malls, which is es­sen­tially what at­tracts global re­tail­ers,” says Chand­nani of CBRE.

Phoenix has been ex­pand­ing its foot­print rapidly along these lines. Its malls in Mum­bai and Pune tend to cover over 1 mil­lion sq ft each.

“More space means the abil­ity to of­fer more op­tions,” says Ra­jen­dra Kalkar, pres­i­dent (West) of The Phoenix Mills Pvt Ltd, which owns High Street Phoenix chain of malls. Phoenix has also added malls in Lucknow and Bareilly over the past three years. Oberoi is step­ping the game up too. “Our mall in Gore­gaon cov­ers 5 lakh square feet, but the next one, in Borivli, will be nearly twice as large,” says Anu­pam T, vice-pres­i­dent of Oberoi malls.

The Amanora mall in Pune, ini­tially 3 lakh sq ft, is also look­ing to add another 2 lakh sq ft, and build another prop­erty in the same city.

“Be­tween 2011 and 2017, we also went through a pe­riod of lower foot­falls, so we had to down­size stores, lease them dif­fer­ently. But there is a spike in ac­tiv­ity now and so we have de­cided to ex­pand,” says Surjit Singh Rajpurohit, the mall’s COO.

EX­PE­RI­ENCE MAT­TERS

There’s been an over­all shift in em­pha­sis too, from shop­ping to the fam­ily or group ex­pe­ri­ence.

Food courts are get­ting big­ger, spa­ces for live mu­sic, pop­ups, events, per­for­mances, sports and gam­ing are be­ing added or en­hanced.

“Fash­ion is im­por­tant, but our re­search con­sis­tently shows that shop­ping is not the rea­son peo­ple come to the malls,” says Su­nil Shroff, CEO of Vi­viana mall in Thane.

At the Gar­dens Gal­le­ria mall in Delhi, F&B op­tions have grown from un­der 10 in 2016 to more than 30 brands, says mall head Mahim Singh.

“We be­gan in 2010 with a fo­cus on shop­ping, but have had to in­crease our din­ing op­tions,” says Son­ica Mal­ho­tra, joint man­ag­ing direc­tor of the MBD Group, which owns the MBD Neopo­lis malls in Lud­hi­ana and Ja­land­har.

V Muham­mad Ali, COO-re­tail of the mall divi­sion at Pres­tige Group, which op­er­ates the Fo­rum malls in Chen­nai, Udaipur, Mysore and Man­ga­lore has a sim­i­lar story. “Our up­com­ing project, Fo­rum Shan­tinike­tan in Ben­galuru, will have a go-kart­ing track, a tram­po­line park and also a per­for­mance arts theatre,” says Ali.

Be­tween 2011 and 2017, we went through a pe­riod of lower foot­falls, so we had to down­size stores, lease them dif­fer­ently. But there is a spike in ac­tiv­ity now. So we are ex­pand­ing and look­ing to add around 2 lakh sq ft to our ex­ist­ing space.

SURJIT SINGH RAJPUROHIT, COO of Amanora mall in Pune

Dur­ing the ini­tial boom of the early 2000s, malls such as Inor­bit in Malad, were mostly around half a mil­lion sq ft in size. Up­com­ing malls are be­ing planned as big­ger spa­ces, at over a mil­lion sq ft each, which al­lows them to of­fer cus­tomers more ex­pe­ri­ences.

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