Malls are the ‘third’ home for shoppers, and it allows them to de-stress, spend time with the family, purchase a range of goods as well as participate in numerous activities. It’s no surprise that leading mall developers are designing their facilities to meet the above trend, and the emphasis is on taking the consumer experience to the next ‘level’, in terms of retail formats and allied entertainment options.
As a result, JLL, the global real estate advisor, has predicted that the average size of upcoming malls in India is expected to rise by 2.5 per cent to nearly one million sq ft by 2017.
Retail consultants pointed out that malls of this size are indicators of “growth” and “prosperity” of the broader economy, and would also be the first choice for retailers, consumer brands and shoppers, to be associated with.
And, one of the earliest players to leverage this trend in the domestic retail sector is the DLF Group via its DLF Mall of India, Noida, NCR, spread across 1.93 million sq ft.
Pushpa Bector, Senior Vice President, Head (Leasing and Mall Management), DLF Mall of India, enthusiastically pointed out that they would bring the global shopping experience to consumers with the “right” mix of domestic and international consumer brands along with an entertainment ‘destination’ for the entire family.
Bector also pointed out that their “mega city centre” would also be of the ideal size to cater to different segments of their target audience including children and senior citizens.
“We have invested nearly Rs 1,100 crore in this project, in a bid to ensure it is comparable to its global peers like Mall of America, The Dubai Mall and ION Orchard, Singapore,” said Bector of DLF Mall of India.
The ‘right’ ingredients
The DLF Mall of India, the largest retail project in the country, is located at Sector 18, Noida, and it would offer a ‘360 degree’ experience to the entire family and corporates in the vicinity via a range of domestic and international consumer brands in fashion, apparel and allied segments. In addition, there would be a wide array of options for families to enjoy themselves along with a world-class customer experience.
As part of that strategy, this mall spread across six levels has ‘zones’ including ‘Market Place’, ‘International Boulevard’, ‘The High Street’, ‘Family World’ and ‘Leisure Land’. It does not end there, and this shopping centre would also feature one of the largest indoor entertainment ‘zone’, spread across two levels including 7 DT Star Cinemas, an ice skating ring and EAT food lounge, which will offer kiosks designed by international consultants - Varney Designs.
And, apart from the convenience while shopping, children as well as adults can enjoy themselves with 73 escalators.
This retail extravaganza has been designed by UK-based Benoy, which has been associated with global landmarks including ION Orchard - Singapore, Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi and Westfield London, and to create a memorable experience for shoppers, the architects have also incorporated The Racetrack Atrium, which would allow visibility of all store ‘windows’ from various levels. In addition, this project is a LEED Gold certified mall.
The efforts of DLF Group have not gone unnoticed, and it has won several accolades before launch of its latest mall, including MAPIC 2013 as ‘Retail Rising Star’ as well as Best New Design & Development & Sustainable Design Award at Asia Shopping Center and Mall Awards 2014.
Senior managers of DLF Group emphasised that implementing such a project requires considerable focus on key challenges, namely the high cost of land acquisition as well as the lack of developed infrastructure facilities in the vicinity of this shopping centre.
This, in turn, delays the implementation of a shopping centre. In addition, considerable effort is required to suitably manage the various retail formats and the diverse operating objectives, point out executives from this group. To ensure smooth functioning of the mall, Bector, pointed out they would be operating only via a leasing model.
The ‘road’ ahead
Retailers and consultants are unanimous that larger sized malls are en vogue, and would also serve as a key differentiator in the increasingly competitive retail sector. In addition, mall developers would need a “strategic vision” to implement a project which offers more than a million sq ft.
“Organised retail is booming in Noida”
The domestic retail sector is set to be transformed with the forthcoming launch of the DLF Mall of India. In a conversation, Pushpa Bector – Senior Vice President, Head (Leasing and Mall Management), DLF Mall of India, shared her views on realising this project.
The retail strategy has changed considerably with consumers getting more sophisticated. Kindly throw light on the retail ‘mix’ at your mall, taking into account your target audience, catchment and positioning?
I do agree that the retail industry is witnessing profound changes, with consumer needs evolving rather quickly. I would also like to highlight the expanding commercial and IT-related activity in Noida and Greater Noida, and it has resulted in a household base in this region exceeding two lakh.
We felt it important to cater to the primary audience of customers within a radius of 6 miles of our mall, and, in turn, our tenants would offer a wide range of consumer brands which would complement the array of entertainment and allied facilities we will offer.
We are confident of growing the footfalls at our mall, quickly, as consumers would come to purchase products for their daily needs as well as for lifestyle-related requirements, and entertainment.
What are the unique design features at your mall?
The design for our earlier malls was largely controlled by the local regulatory authority, but for DLF Mall of India, we have worked with UK-based architects Benoy, which has been associated with global landmarks including ION Orchard - Singapore and Westfield London.
Our ‘brief’ to the architectural firm was to create a mall which would ‘appeal’ to the urban contemporary consumer, and a unique design element - Racetrack Atrium was incorporated. This feature enables visibility for all store ‘windows’ from all the levels in the mall along with 73 escalators.
Apart from that, the food court – EAT Lounge, will offer kiosks specially planned by US-based Varney Designs.
What is your recipe for a successful mall?
A mall needs to be a ‘destination’ for the target audience, whether it is for their daily needs, lifestyle-related purchases or entertainment requirements. In addition, it should be relevant for tourists.
We have also taken several measures to differentiate ourselves from peers, including the range of consumer brands offered, technology-related solutions, safety and security measures, and the mall ambience.
In addition, we have paid careful attention to the various ‘engagement’ programmes planned with our retail tenants.
Security is becoming an increasingly important aspect while running a mall. How have you handled this operational aspect?
We have accorded high priority to safety and security at our mall right from the planning stage, and it is an integral part of the entire mall design. As part of that strategy, we have installed hand-held metal detectors, CCTV cameras and constant surveillance of the images generated along with emergency and evacuation exits. In addition, we have suitably trained our personnel with the help of experts.