Mall management mantras

MOUMITA BAKSHI CHATTERJEE | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on December 14, 2011

A winter wonderland: The Express Avenue Mall in Chennai is ready for the year-end festival season. - Photo: Bijoy Ghosh   -  Business Line

Why do some malls work and others don't? What's the recipe to create a successful mall?

Jostling your way through the crowd, arms straining under the weight of shopping bags, have you ever wondered why you and those around you are frequently drawn to a particular mall. Is it the location, ease of parking, or the line-up of brands and events that make one mall more appealing, reducing another to a vacant, forgotten maze of glass and concrete? “It's a bit of everything. At the end of the day, shoppers are not only looking for convenience of shopping, but also an experience,” says Sunil Bedi, Managing Director of JMD Group, a company that has set up malls in Gurgaon, Delhi and Ludhiana.

Multiple factors go into turning a mall into a shopper's paradise — right from large parking facilities to floor layouts. Even the tenant mix could tilt the scales as could the sale-lease strategies of mall owners. A lucrative catchment area is, of course, a must but by no means a guarantee that the mall will turn out be a crowd-puller. “For consumers, shopping is all about convenience now. So while consumers will first look for good options nearby, they are willing to travel some distance if they are assured of parking and ease of entry and exit,” says Shubhranshu Pani, Managing Director — Retail Services, Jones Lang LaSalle India.

Once the discerning shopper reaches the mall, it is the layout and design that draws him in. An efficient, carefully designed interior ensures congestion-free movement within the mall. More importantly, it gently steers visitors through the walkways, nudging them to open up their wallets as they stroll past the maze of retail stores and eateries. “Layout and design determines the ease with which the traffic circulates within the mall. It also ensures that every store gets good visibility and there is no ‘shop-behind-a-shop'. There is a whole science behind what kind of shops will do well on the ground floor, and the floors above,” says Anshul Jain, CEO of DTZ India.

JMD's Bedi argues that a lot hinges on the profile of the mall developers too. “The financial strength of the developer decides just how far the mall will go to rope in early tenants. At times, to get popular brands into the shopping arcade, owners may offer deep discounts on rent or waive the maintenance charges for the anchor tenants,” he says.

The retailer's view

Ask K. Ramakrishnan, President-Marketing, Café Coffee Day (CCD), on how the company decides which mall to have a presence in, and the response is the location, the catchment and the footfalls. “However, if this is a new mall, the area around it and its potential in terms of the location of housing complexes, educational institutions and office premises, the big anchors who will take space in it, are taken into account,” he says. But why does CCD maintain a presence in Star City Mall in Mayur Vihar, which is pretty much unoccupied? Ramakrishna says, “The reason is that the residential complexes around the area see us as a reliable ‘hangout' zone.”

The tenant matters

According to most mall owners, the right tenant mix can do wonders to keep the mall pulsating. That means tenants signing up for retail space need to be perfectly mapped to the profile of shoppers at the said location. “You cannot have a budget store in an up-market location. People will just not want to be seen there,” points out Pani.

At the same time, for the mall owners that also means taking a long, hard look at the entire line-up of tenants, to ensure that a similar genre of brands are positioned together in a shopping zone. “The choice of tenants needs to be carefully thought out in terms of what type of brands will complement each other. It makes little sense to club a luxury fashion brand with the local one, as the target audience for the two, are quite different,” Jain adds. There are many who believe that leasing large parts of the mall as opposed to selling space, will give mall owners better control of the tenant mix. “Selling space ‘store by store' or in small units, does not work in my opinion. While selling space, mall owners could look for strategic investors who come in with well-defined strategies. Or they could sell space in larger blocks so that the new investors can implement broader strategies for that zone,” concludes Pani of Jones Lang LaSalle India.

Are the builders listening?

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Published on December 14, 2011
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