FOR THE ‘MALL HEAD’, IT’S ALL ABOUT DETAILS IN RETAIL
One session at the India Shopping Centre Forum 2017 was all about managing expectations of staff, shoppers, retailer tenants and management. The session was dedicated to the challenges that come with the role of ‘Mall Head’, and the opportunities this role brings in making a difference to the retail and retail spaces industry.
The session was moderated by Sanjeev Khanna, Vice President – Operations, Inorbit Malls and the panelists included Ajay Malhotra, GM - Mall, Seasons Mall; Ashish Bhandari, AVP, Infiniti Mall; Robert Boomiyar, Centre Head, Orion Mall, Panvel; Vikas Shetty, CSM, Mall Head, Grauer & Weil - Growel`s 101; and Sunil Munshi, Senior GM - Mall Operations, Orion Mall.
The eminent panelists discussed what a day in the life of a hands-on shopping centre leader is typically like.
Sanjeev Khanna kickstarted the session saying, “The mall head works 24*7. He is a figurative stakeholder in the shopping centre – every single piece of work that falls upon a mall, comes directly to the mall head. Mall heads are responsible for vendors, retailers and they work with thousands of staff members. They are also responsible for safety, hygiene, brand positioning of the mall.”
Vikas Shetty talked about the turn-around story for Growel’s 101 mall, he said, “Back in the year 2010, when we started the mall, there were just three retailers, out of which one was the anchor. Years passed and the main footfalls coming to us were for the anchor store. We did not even have good vanilla retailers in our mall. We introspected and realized that if we need to come out from under the shadow being just a neighborhood mall, then we need to undergo strategic changes. As a part of this change we relocated 60 percent of the mall. This itself was a daunting task, but with the help of a great team, we managed to accomplish this smoothly.”
Robert Boomiyar, talked about how his mall managed to not just survive but also thrive in a developing market like Panvel. He said: “When we started leasing the mall, we had a tough time because Panvel’s market was not that evolved at that time. We talked to many retailers, but a lot of them refused. Despite that, we managed to get through with big names such as PVR, Hypercity, Landmark Group and Shoppers Stop in the mall. We are thankful that these retailers showed confidence in us in the initial years of the mall. Now the mall is doing well, Panvel as a market has developed and the mall is 90 percent operational at this time.”
Talking about what makes a mall successful, Ajay Malhotra, explained, “A lot of planning goes in to setting up a mall. We need to keep each stakeholder of the mall in mind before executing anything. We need to take care of our mall patrons, because footfalls are imperative for a mall. Then come the retail tenants, for good retail brands are the mainstay of attraction in a mall. Then there is the staff to think about – people who will maintain operational efficiencies of the shopping centre. When we started Seasons Mall, we just had 17 stores. Today, the mall is 96 percent occupational. Being in a market like Pune, which is not as big as Delhi or Mumbai and already has 15 malls, it’s important for us to stay ahead of the curve by constantly evolving and innovating ourselves.”
Ashish Bhandari, said, “Our customer is an evolved customer. He has deep pockets and we need to respect his discerning ways. Our customers need exclusivity and that’s the basic requirement of catchment of Andheri. And I constantly strive to give my mall patrons that exclusivity, which they are seeking.”
Talking about their recent efforts, Sunil Munshi, said, “We have done one thing recently, which has been quite daunting and required me to be hands-on. Twenty percent of our mall was under fit-out and monitoring the fit-outs in an operational mall is pretty tough. I had to ensure that the momentum of the mall – the footfalls – doesn’t break. This required us to come up with great marketing initiatives. With the help of my team and the support of developers as well as retail tenants and mall visitors, we’ve been able to execute such a mammoth task in the given deadlines.”
They all converged on one thought – that their post is designed to ensure that the mall remains hot with branding, that they maintain extensive growth of the business and that they ensure operations and support functions run smoothly while growing the sales in their malls.
The mall head works 24*7. He is a gurative stakeholder in the shopping centre – every single piece of work that falls upon a mall, comes directly to the mall head.
– Sanjeev Khanna Vice President, Operations Inorbit Malls
L to R: Sanjeev Khanna, Vice President – Operations, Inorbit Malls; Ajay Malhotra, GM - Mall, Seasons Mall; Ashish Bhandari, AVP, Infiniti Mall; Robert Boomiyar, Centre Head, Orion Mall, Panvel; Vikas Shetty, CSM, Mall Head, Grauer & Weil - Growel`s 101; Sunil Munshi, Sr. GM - Mall Operations, Orion Mall