India has enough retailing in most micro markets, and there is sufficient experiential basis for them for them to understand the benchmarks and figure out if their products will work well or not. Experienced retailers right-size for efficiency, productivity and economy.
The best-performing malls are always in demand by retailers, and are in a position to pick their tenants. Mall owners always have the choice of improving the tenant mix by seeking out the kind of retailers that work best for the catchment in question. They can also make strategic improvements to the center, or offer something unique to make the overall shopping experience more complete. These kinds of strategies usually need to be formulated and implemented either by the existing mall marketing manager or by professional agencies.
How The Revenue Share Model Works
Indian retail has moved into a consumption-based mode. Retailers offer minimum guarantee and revenue share, where the revenue share is a percentage of the profits generated by actual performance. Mall rentals in most locations are high, and minimum guarantees in the first couple of years are always above revenue share. This brings into play the retailers’ ability to pay – therefore, the revenue share does not kick in over the short term. Revenue share usually becomes a factor after anything between three months to three years of active tenancy, depending on how the center is priced during its initial leasing.
The revenue share model is a means to make the expensive real estate viable. There is an underlying interest of the landlord to reach a higher rent, which the retailer is unable to pay. Good retailers take the benefit of a reduced minimum guarantee, thus reducing their fixed cost and thereafter ensuring that they deliver superior returns by reaching revenue share and sharing the upside with the landlord. More retailers should adopt this philosophy.
Retailer's Pre-Lease Checklists
In today's scenario, retailers should look for certain aspects in a mall before taking up space there:
1. Professional mall management
2. Professional maintenance of the center
3. Scientifically formulated tenant mix
4. Adequate parking
5. Adequate location of the store
Questions retailers should ask themselves before taking up a mall space:
1. Who are the customers?
2. Which retailers do well here?
3. Is the landlord doing his share in terms of upkeep, promotions, etc.?
4. Is my store going to be easily accessible to the customers?
5. Of all the choices available in the mall – which space is likely to be most accessible, and why? What happens to the viability of my store if the circulation of the center changes and customers come through a different entry?
6. Am I taking the right size of store - or can I take a smaller store and make its operation more efficient?
7. Am I taking on a rent that I can afford – at least from the second year onward?
8. What will I do if it does not work for me – what are my exit options and means to cut losses?
Handling Mall Vacancies
The re-leasing process can leave some empty spaces in the malls which take time to fill up. Mall owners need to best work around utilising these spaces. Most vacant spaces in malls get reused. In the case of malls that are older than nine years, landlords often consider upgrading the entire center, or parts of the center. They may have an alternate development strategy according to which they will remodel the spaces and redesign / rezone the center.
Increased vacancy rates in malls can typically be attributed to three factors:
1) Normal churn, which is desirable
2) The available spaces are not conducive to retail, or exist in a center that has been over-built
3) Spaces that are not conducive for retail have not been reinvented for alternate use. In an over-build situation, it will take time to find takers for such spaces
Mall owners can guard against vacancy in mall in the following ways:
- Launching the mall at 85 per cent plus occupancy.
- Choosing an initial set of brands that works well in a given location - either on the basis of the format or products being suitable for the location and catchment, or because of store sizes are suitable for those brands, or on the basis of an overall strategy for the region leading to lower drop-outs.
- Good tenure completion strategy – As ongoing occupier tenures complete, landlords look at churning in order to get new brands into the mall. At this point, they may aim to position the mall at a higher profile. They would ensure that this positioning is applicable for the given location and that the concurrent increase in rentals is not beyond the normal growth of escalation.