SPOT­LIGHT

When the en­tire coun­try’s re­tail growth was con­cen­trated in the North and West, Kavita Sing­ha­nia en­vis­aged and worked to­wards build­ing Ex­press Av­enue in Chennai. Amidst se­ri­ous doubts about the po­ten­tial of such a huge mall in such a con­ser­va­tive mar­ket,

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By Surabhi Khosla

‘EX­PRESS AV­ENUE LED TO THE CRE­ATION OF A NEW-AGE RE­TAIL MAR­KET IN CHENNAI’

The cre­ation and suc­cess of Ex­press Av­enue has paved the way for other malls, lead­ing to the cre­ation of a re­tail mar­ket in Chennai that is sec­ond to none

Ex­press Av­enue, the brain­child of its vi­sion­ary Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Kavita Sing­ha­nia, has of­ten been said as the po­ten­tial to in­tro­duce a whole new di­men­sion of stylish liv­ing to the peo­ple of Chennai. When the en­tire coun­try’s re­tail growth was con­cen­trated in the North and West, Kavita Sing­ha­nia en­vis­aged and worked to­wards build­ing Ex­press Av­enue in Chennai.

“Amidst se­ri­ous doubts about the po­ten­tial of such a huge mall in such a con­ser­va­tive mar­ket, she along with her en­tire team launched the mall in 2010. It turned out to be a roar­ing suc­cess and laid to rest the ar­gu­ments of many skep­tics. It also proved her right – that Chennai was ready for trans­for­ma­tion. The cre­ation and suc­cess of Ex­press Av­enue has also paved the way for other malls, lead­ing to the cre­ation of a re­tail mar­ket that is sec­ond to none,” says Ganesh CV, Pres­i­dent – Leas­ing & Mar­ket­ing, Ex­press In­fra­struc­ture Pvt Ltd in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with IM­AGES Re­tail Bu­reau.

The mall has a per­fect mix of the key el­e­ments that de­ter­mine the suc­cess of any shop­ping cen­tre in the coun­try to­day – a great lo­ca­tion, a catch­ment area sec­ond to none, a cat­e­gory and brand mix to be en­vi­ous of and an en­ter­tain­ment quo­tient – in­clud­ing din­ing op­tions – that’s par ex­cel­lence.

The mall also fol­lows a su­pe­rior zon­ing strat­egy to en­sure that stores are or­ga­nized in an ‘easy dis­cov­ery’ man­ner for vis­i­tors. The ground floor, be­ing the face of the mall, is oc­cu­pied by some of the best in­ter­na­tional brands and the mall man­age­ment is now up­grad­ing the same by bring­ing in more bridge-tolux­ury brands.

“We just fin­ished one round of churn and brought in brands like Bobbi Brown, H&M, For­ever21, and Sephora to name a few. We are now plan­ning to bring in bridge to lux­ury brands, of which Omega is al­ready present and Mont Blanc is in the verge of open­ing. We are also in dis­cus­sion with a cou­ple of more bridge-to-lux­ury brands, the names of which will be re­vealed when the time is ripe,” Ganesh re­veals.

The lower ground floor is the hy­per­mar­ket, along with elec­tron­ics and many home­grown brands. The first floor is dom­i­nated by menswear and ac­ces­sories, and footwear, while the sec­ond floor is oc­cu­pied by wom­enswear and ac­ces­sories, kidswear, and sports­wear.

The third floor is ear­marked for en­ter­tain­ment. It in­cludes a cinema, a fun­zone, food op­tions as well as best of in­dul­gence op­tions like a spa.

“If a mall doesn’t have F&B and hos­pi­tal­ity, then why should a con­sumer visit? He can get the same things that he buys in a mall in his neigh­bour­hood mar­ket as well. To­day, com­ing to a mall does not mean only shop­ping, but it also means spend qual­ity time with your loved ones and hav­ing a de­light­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. The only way to get a fam­ily to come to a mall again and again is to pro­vide right quo­tient of re­tail ther­apy, en­ter­tain­ment, in­dul­gence and no mall can pro­vide a ‘wholis­tic ex­pe­ri­ence’ if F&B and hos­pi­tal­ity op­tions are ab­sent,” states Ganesh.

“Our motto is that the cus­tomer and his con­ve­nience come first, and we have worked tire­lessly to­wards this, and to­wards en­sur­ing that our brand value is pre­served,” he adds.

Keep­ing cus­tomer con­ve­nience in mind, Ex­press Av­enue was the first mall to in­tro­duce an emer­gency med­i­cal cen­tre in­side its premises, com­plete with am­bu­lance ser­vices.

“We also are one of the first malls to bring in a ded­i­cated phar­macy. Also, to en­able ease of com­mut­ing within the mall by the el­derly and the phys­i­cally chal­lenged, we have bat­tery-op­er­ated carts,” he adds.

Aside from this, the mall also or­gan­ises ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties through the year – fes­tive sea­son or not – to keep the con­sumers in­ter­est and the foot­falls rolling in. These in­clude shop­ping fes­ti­vals, fash­ion shows, in­ter­na­tional and na­tional sports ac­tiv­i­ties, pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties of in-house re­tail brands and FMCG, Au­to­mo­bile, Cs­r­re­lated events.

We take pride in cre­at­ing a buzz all the year around. In fact, the events are so wellat­tended that Ex­press Av­enue even re­ceived the award for the ‘High­est Foot­fall of the Year’ by To­tal Ac­ti­va­tion Venue Fo­rum.

Im­ple­ment­ing In­tel­li­gent Tech

Apart from phys­i­cal con­ve­nience to con­sumers, the mall also of­fers per­sonal and dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to give more power to mall vis­i­tors.

“Ex­press Av­enue was the first mall to in­tro­duce a Ro­botic Di­rec­tory. The Ro­bot moves around the mall and when a cus­tomer stands in front of it, the

Ro­bot wel­comes them to the mall and helps them with the store di­rec­tory us­ing a screen mounted on its body,” ex­plains Ganesh. “We are also on the verge of rolling out an app which will not only help vis­i­tors lo­cate stores and find of­fers, it will also help them lo­cate the area where they parked their car, as well as the near­est toi­let, mak­ing it one of the most con­sumer­con­ve­nience ori­ented apps and malls,” he adds.

The Om­nichan­nel Route

Change is the only con­stant in this evolv­ing world and malls have no choice but to adapt to sur­vive. Ad­her­ing to this maxim, Ex­press Av­enue has will­fully set on the path to Om­nichan­neli­sa­tion.

“With the ad­vent of m-com­merce – add to this traf­fic woes and the fact that peo­ple would rather sit at home and shop, than drive – which has sig­nif­i­cantly changed con­sumer be­hav­iour in In­dia, it has be­come a mat­ter of sur­vival for most brands to go Om­nichan­nel. Malls are no dif­fer­ent.

To­day we are talk­ing about and bring­ing in Om­nichan­neli­sa­tion, to­mor­row we might be talk­ing of some new tech­nol­ogy that could change the face of re­tail and we will have to adapt to it as well,” says Ganesh.

While 2017 was all about the e-com­merce boom in In­dia, the mall man­age­ment strongly feels that 2018 will be the year when brick-and­mor­tar emerges vic­to­ri­ous, for af­ter all, while In­ter­net may have pen­e­trated the heart of In­dia, the hearts of In­di­ans (and their trust) still lies with the phys­i­cal re­tailer. Hence, the man­age­ment is work­ing tire­lessly to­wards giv­ing the con­sumers the best of both worlds, a union of of­fline and on­line.

OUR MOTTO IS THAT THE CUS­TOMER AND HIS CON­VE­NIENCE COME FIRST AND WE HAVE WORKED TIRE­LESSLY TO­WARDS THIS AND TO­WARDS EN­SUR­ING THAT OUR BRAND VALUE IS PRE­SERVED. – Ganesh CV, Pres­i­dent – Leas­ing & Mar­ket­ing, Ex­press In­fra­struc­ture Pvt Ltd

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