No longer do industrial units in this region emit smoke or pollutants, but they have been replaced by modern building complexes, IT and BPO offices, and a host of other service-based industries. A trend which was also witnessed a decade back in the suburbs of NCR region and the broad transformation into an office, organised retail and residential hub is well known. And, a key component of this rapid transformation of this part of Mumbai is the Neptune Group, which has developed an array of modern building complexes and IT offices. In addition, about a year back, this group also sought to carve its niche in the rapidly evolving organised retail trade in this area with its Neptune Magnet Mall, located at Bhandup, and has became operational.
No doubt, this region has traditionally been dominated by kirana stores, but the decision to set up a mall was clearly not taken in a hurry. And, that’s because these suburbs have gradually seen their demographics change from an older blue collared dominated residents to one which is young and well educated; and at the same time looking for a world-class, shopping-cum-leisure destination.
Nayan Bheda, CMD of Neptune Group, knew right from the planning stage of their mall that they need to differentiate themselves from aggressive competitors in their catchment areas of Powai, Mulund and Ghatkopar, in a bid to quickly grow their footfalls in a short time.
Neptune, as part of its strategy wanted to offer features and services which are not found in other malls, located close by and also take consumer experience to the next level. They roped in well known international architects FORREC, who have been involved in the design of Legoland and Tussads, amongst other leading projects overseas.
And, the emphasis has been on ensuring a harmonious mix of retail and entertainment options at their mall. Bheda also knew that the offerings in this mall must be in tune with the catchment area and also gradually evolve with the changing needs of these younger consumers.
As part of this plan, retailers including Bharti WalMart’s Easyday and Metro Cash and Carry have already opened their stores. Future Group’s Central format will be shortly operational, along with other leading brands including Satya Paul, Bwitch, Hidesign
and Ayesha Accessories. Also, the entertainment zone here GETLOST, spread over 70,000 sq ft, offers a real ice skating rink and a mini golf course which arem rarely found in malls today.
The retail scenario has been cyclical over the past 12 – 18 months, and in the first eight months of the previous calendar year, there was a broad sluggishness in sales with consumers thinking twice before making a big-ticket purchase at the mall. However, the sentiment in this sector showed a U-turn with the government allowing FDI in multi-brand retail and several leading
global players are expected to shortly set up their operations here.
And, this has also manifested in consumers’ expecting a better shopping experience at malls, as well as brands that are more in
tune with their evolving needs. Striking a similar note, Bheda said, “The tenant mix at malls has also changed substantially
with the introduction of several overseas and national brands. This is also helping consumers to get a better shopping experience.”
No doubt, an appropriate locationis a key factor for the success of a mall, coupled with relevant brands and services offered to
consumers in the catchment area. However, Bheda pointed out to an additional aspect that is gaining in importance in mall
development and that relates to ‘sensory experience’. It broadly refers to the excitement and the ‘wow’ factor created in the mind
of a consumer, right from the time he enters the mall facility.
And, Bheda adds that right from the parking facilities to the actual shopping experience and exit from the mall, it must leave a
lasting impression in the mind of a consumer.
An overwhelming majority of consumers in the Powai till Mulund belt are below the age of 40 years and ‘aspirational’, and at the same want better value for their shopping.
To ensure that they are in tune with these consumers and also part of the ‘sensory experience’ strategy, Neptune Magnet Mall
has paid great attention to the designing and layout of features at their facility.
For instance, starting from their parking facility which is a two-level parking, and has multiple entry and exit points, coupled with cameras, DFMD’s and allied equipment to ensure the safety of patrons. It does not end there.
Neptune Magnet Mall has four themed atriums, coupled with a two-level food court, one of the largest in the city. In addition,
the Family Entertainment Centre spread over 70, 000 sq ft is an ideal destination to eat or simply relax and enjoy.
They also have zoning for different product categories offered at their mall, in a bid to facilitate ease of shopping. Bheda adds, “An ideal mall must offer something to each member and generation of a family, in terms of services and brands offered.”
As part of that objective, Neptune Magnet Mall also offers diaper changing rooms, pharmacy and business centres. In addition, they have also recently started a bus service to bring consumers from Mulund and Powai to the mall and back, throughout the day.
Setting up a mall in Mumbai is not an easy task, given the sky high land costs and poor infrastructure facilities in several
parts of the city. A scenario no different for management of Neptune Magnet Mall and they were involved right from the conception stage of this project, and final implementation.
Bheda also stressed on the need to balance appropriate return on investment on this mall over the long-term and the rentals
charged for tenants. And, with land costs high, it does become a bit more complicated, as these costs have to be proportionately borne by retail tenants.
Consumers are key for the success of any mall, but tenants are equally important, point out marketing consultants. And, in
Mumbai where several malls in different parts of the city are grappling with high vacancy rates, Neptune Magnet Mall’s management knew right from the start that they need to be proactive in this regard.
The management is also well aware that retailers have aggressive sales targets and their mall needs to attract a large footfall, in a bid to help their tenants in that regard.
As part of that goal, they have events relevant for their catchment and have also launched a two-phased advertising campaign to create greater awareness for the mall. Bheda adds, “The results are clearly visible and in a short span we have been able to get leading brands to open outlets at our facility, and several more are expected shortly. In addition, we are closely evaluating several
new services and facilities to add to our mall, which would be relevant to our consumers over the next few years.”
Clearly, Neptune Magnet Mall has carved its niche in a rather short span of time and could soon become the benchmark for
the mall industry in this part of Mumbai.
Average consumer spend per visit:
Rs 1,500 - 3,000
Shopper profile:
25 - 45 years
Average time 
spent: 3 - 4 hours
Bird’s-eye view
# White collared shoppers dominate this erstwhile industrial belt
# ‘Sensory experience’ a new element in mall design
# Strong focus on tenant management
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