Coimbatore is bracing itself for the formal opening of the second mall in the city — Fun Republic — from E-City Ventures of the Essel Group.

The group straddles across different industrial spectrums — media, entertainment, technology, infrastructure etc.

Located on Avinashi road in Peelamedu area in the city amid a cluster of educational institutions, the mall promises to offer a different shopping experience to the denizens when it formally opens this month.

The mall brings together some of the hottest names in the retail sector — Shoppers Stop, Reliance group, a host of other retail brands like Lee, Anita Dongre and fast food giant McDonald’s etc., from different business segments.

What is significant about the mall, apart from its location, is its design itself.

The large dome-shaped structure boasts of a beautiful atrium and the frontage of the shops/restaurants in the six-level structure has been so designed that they face the 15,000 sq.ft atrium.

Demand for mall space

The strong demand for mall space in Coimbatore is reflected in the demand for retail space in Fun Republic with nearly 100-odd retailers picking up a space of about 3.25 lakh sq ft. in the mall, which has come up on about 3.5 acres that belonged earlier to the National Textile Corporation.

According to Balasubramaniam, Deputy Manager-Business Development, E-City Property Management & Services Pvt Ltd, what determined the success of a mall was not only the proper designing but it should be leased out properly.

'Tenant mix'

The ‘tenant mix’ plays a pivotal role in the success of a mall and this should be decided taking into consideration the disposable income, spending pattern, shopping style of customers etc.

He said that his company has done a huge study on that, including on the likely impact of a mall coming up in the area in the future.

He said his company has taken great care in deciding on the ‘zoning mix’ — like the ground floor of the mall being set apart for very premium brands, the first floor for men’s wear, second floor for women’s and kidswear, third floor for room furnishings and home appliances/electronics/gaming, fourth floor for multiplex and food court etc.

Balasubramaniam said that another positive factor is the strategic location that made the mall easily accessible from any part of the city.

Though only about 20 retail outlets were open in the mall that is yet to be formally opened, on August 19, the mall had 15,000 walk-ins that was the highest in the past one week.

He said the mall offers a great look and feel to the visitors from both A and B segments — Anita Dongre, a premium designer wear brand, Global Desi (from the same group), Lollipop, Mom & Me (an M&M Group co.) were some of the well known brands to opt for mall space.

There is also a conscious effort to provide a local flavour to the shopping experience by bringing in Chocko Chozha, a popular city based specialised chocolate retailer and Annapoorna hotel chain. A Rajdhani restaurant has also taken up space.

The total number of retailers in the mall is around 90-100. While Shoppers Stop will be the key brand, another popular retailer is Reliance Mart and the retailers are chosen carefully to give a mix of international, national and local brand experience to the avid shoppers.

Balasubramaniam said Fun Republic would have a 10,000 sq ft gaming area offering different games like bowling. For Fun Republic, the Coimbatore mall is the fifth mall it has opened in the country and there are malls elsewhere managed by group outfits.

Fun Republic runs malls in Mumbai, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad and Coimbatore mall is the first mall it will run outside the state capitals.

He felt that the mall culture is “definitely’’ picking up in Coimbatore, particularly as the city suffers from lack of entertainment facilities.

Asked whether the mall concept depends on permitting FDI in retail for its sustenance, Balasubramaniam said “irrespective of that mall would survive’’.

He said Fun Republic has been leased out fully and there is no space left to be rented. Out of about 5 lakh sq.ft. built-up area, the leased out area is about 3.5 lakh sq.ft and the company has opted for pure rental rather than a revenue sharing model.

What would spell success for a mall is a clear understanding of which are the segments/retailers that it would accommodate in the mall that would draw the targeted footfall.

According to the company web site, E-City Property Management would operate over 60 units (approximately 40 million sq ft) by 2015 including specific IT/mall/commercial infrastructure out of which 40 per cent would be captive outsourcing and the balance 60 per cent would be external third party clients.

It is managing 6 million sft across India including 18 malls under Comprehensive Management. Properties on the pipeline include Jewel of India, Jaipur-25 lakh sq.ft., Fun Republic in Udaipur (1.2 lakh sq.ft.), Hyderabad (1.2 lakh sq.ft.), Jammu (6.2 lakh sq.ft.) and Mohali Mall (20 lakh sq.ft).

The Essel Group headed by Subhash Chandra owns a string of media enterprises like Zee TV, Daily News and Analysis (DNA) and has presence across a wide range of business activities including media, entertainment, technology, infrastructure etc.

(This article was published on August 22, 2012)
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