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Jun, 01 2007

Bangalore a retail favourite

IT is not only the real estate developers who are keen to get their hands on the real estate market of Bangalore, big corporates like UB group, Pantaloon Group and Tata Group are also eyeing to grab a pie of the Bangalore real estate market.

IT is not only the real estate developers who are keen to get their hands on the real estate market of Bangalore, big corporates like UB group, Pantaloon Group and Tata Group are also eyeing to grab a pie of the Bangalore real estate market. But what is so special about Bangalore that after Delhi, and Mumbai the next preference for any retailer is Bangalore.

With the emergence of a number of top IT and ITES companies in the city, Bangalore has been rightly named as the Silicon Valley of India. The growing number of working people, who are ready to spend, gave the required boost to the mall developers as well as retailers to opt for this burgeoning market. Also the huge success witnessed by the first few malls developed in Bangalore, was reason enough for other mall developers to follow suit. Whether it is a value mall serving goods at factory prices, or a mall having all the national players serving the mid-market segment or malls catering to the upper class with luxury goods, Bangalore is seeing it all.

What led to the mall boom?

Although mall culture is a western concept but due to the increasing demand by retailers and shoppers for a better shopping experience malls are becoming the next best place and Bangalore is very well observing this phenomenon. Van Heusen, TresPass, Samsonite, Westside, Ethos, Nike, Reebok, Jockey, Tommy, Adidas, Lee, Benetton, Mango, Marks & Spencer are some of the brand outlets, which are already serving the demands of consumers in the city. Various other brands are also finding space in the new commercial properties of Prestige Constructions, Sobha Developers, Pantaloon and UB Group.

Leading mall developers

The growth driver in the city is the real spurt of various malls and retailers eyeing to grab space in Bangalore. Oman based developer is breaking the ground by announcing the development of India's largest mall in the city. The mall in talks is Sobha Global Mall which will feature stores built around a skylighted atrium on 16 acres, a 13 screen multiplex, food courts, a rooftop disco, a 300 room hotel tower and ample parking space for 3,400 cars.

Prestige constructions, a Bangalore based real estate company developed the Forum Mall three years back in the city, which caters to the mid market segment of Bangalore. The mall houses some of the best national as well as international brands like Planet fashion, Apple and a host of others. After witnessing success for its first mall the company is eyeing the value retail market by developing a mall specifically having factory priced outlets.

Talking about the upcoming developments in another burgeoning market in Bangalore, Neeraj Duggal, Vice President, Prestige Constructions, says, "We are coming up with a Forum Value Mall which is on Whitefield."

Further revealing the company's decision to choose this market, Duggal says, "Whitefield has become a hub for factory outlet shops which are doing exceedingly well. People travel from other cities to reach there and with no parking and no plan get struck over there. The idea came that why not to have a place where you have parking and food, so that people can come for a day and get value for money."

The company will have factory priced outlets of various retail houses like Westside and others comprising of merchandise and apparel.

Garuda Mall, Sigma Mall, Orion Mall, The arcade are other top malls in Bangalore.

According to real estate agency Trammel Crow Meghraj (TCM), approximately 2.8 million sq.ft area is already operational under various constructions in Bangalore. The agency estimates that by 2009 approximately 9 million sq.ft retail space would be covered in Bangalore.

Why Bangalore?

There are specific features about Bangalore due to which every retailer is eyeing it. According to Duggal, "Bangalore has got some advantages like that of climate, there is a new social strata."

Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, is a thriving modern busi-ness centre and the hub of the IT Revolution in India. Apart from a range of IT, ITES and BPO companies, many institutions like IIM-B, IISC, Hindustan Aeronautics among others have their base in the city. Bangalore is the 6th largest city in India in terms of population and one of the fastest growing cities in Asia due to the phenomenal growth in the IT and BPO sector.

Top shopping places

Retail activity in Bangalore has mainly been concentrated on the high streets with Brigade Road, M.G. Road, and Commercial Street as the main retail streets of the city. Lately the retailing has also grown out of these streets and markets in suburbs like Jayanagar 4th block, Sampige Road and CMH road, which are fast emerging as the retail destinations for suburban Bangalore.

Bangalore's retail market is already witnessing another retail revolution with International chains like McDonalds, Marks & Spencer and other professionally managed lifestyle stores like Shoppers Stop, Pantaloon, Lifestyle and Globus opening up 2-3 new stores soon.

Talking about the mall boom in Bangalore, Bappaditya Basu, Vice President, Transaction Management- Retail Agency, TCM, "The Mall buzzword has also caught Bangalore after Mumbai and Delhi and the city is all set to see 26-27 new Malls. Total built-up area of upcoming or under construction malls/ shopping centres is close to 12 million sq.ft, which is huge for a 5.6 million population of Bangalore."

The retail industry in Bangalore is passing through a period of profound and accelerating change and consolidation and competition is quickly shaping some of the world's biggest mall markets. Another vital element of the change is the intimate bonding of retail success with consumer confidence in Bangalore. Shopping is a stress buster. There is an increase in the aspiration class in Bangalore due to the constant growth of the income level and the booming Indian economy, which can be attributed to the escalating awareness of brands and lifestyle products.

Reason why Bangalore is mapping a high growth in any mall developers' plan, Basu says, "The loyalty factor is high in Bangalore, while the rentals are still not high as in North India. These average rentals result in a profit for the retailer. Also due to its young gen next crowd, Bangalore is known for attracting the attention of the organized retailer."

Big corporates eyeing the Garden City

Large business conglomerate Tata Group has already entered the retail sector. Tata is present in retail whether it is in the form of Trent or Infinity retail, the two retail arms of Tata. Trent has Westside, Landmark and Star India Bazaar. Infinity retail has Croma and it has also tied up with two more brands that are still not out. Taking account of the huge expansion plans of other retailers, Tata has formed a fund named Tata Real Estate fund with Tata Housing, which is into the business of acquiring JV with other developers throughout the country. In this regard Tata is scouting for some properties for both its retail venture as well as its real estate venture. According to sources a few properties have been shortlisted by the Tata group to be opened up in Bangalore very soon in a range of 20,000 sq ft to 40,000 sq ft.

Kshitij, the real estate arm of Future group is developing three malls; the Retail Redo Mall and one each at M G Road and the Outer Ring road.

Another powerhouse in line is the UB Group. There are a few properties belonging to Vijay Mallya which are being turned into a very high-end mall, known as UB city. High end foreign brands will be taking up space over there. The mall is in line with luxury malls.

But after testing other businesses why these large business groups are eyeing the real estate market? To this Basu says, "All the corporates have earlier been in retailing and in hospitality business. The Tata owns the Taj Hotels and UB owns Kingfisher Airlines, Panatloon is into retailing for the last 30 years. So once you understand the psyche of a customer and what he needs, you have ample chance to develop infrastructure."

Will this mall boom last?

With so many malls making a beeline in the city it is not an exaggeration to call Bangalore as the next swankiest city for youngsters. Replying on what future can be predicted for the mall boom, Basu says, "The success of retail development of each mall coming up in Bangalore is subjective and would greatly depend upon the preferences of retailers and purchasing power."

A lot has been said and heard about various malls in Bangalore but only time will tell who takes the best space of real estate pie and offers profit to retailers.

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