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With 'mall culture' fast gaining prominence in India, brands are on a look out for making the most of this opportunity via franchising. In a tête-à-tête with Parina Sood, Pushpa Bector, Senior Vice President, Head (Leasing & Mall Management), DLF Mall of
Share your entrepreneurial journey with us.
I started my career with the hospitality giant, Oberoi Group of hotels, and was part of the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development (OCLD) programme. Later I went on to join Domino's Pizza as the Marketing Manager for five years to hone my marketing skills in the F&B sector. At Domino's, my responsibility was to popularise the multinational food chain and introduce the concept of quick service restaurant, about 37 of them, in three regions North, South and West India. I also launched the concept of product promotions and redemption programmes while working on franchise agreements. My next stint was in the field of direct marketing at Avon Inc., in the late 90’s where I was responsible for introducing the concept of direct purchase of cosmetics through Avon agents and outlets. I also served as the CEO of Funkie Orbits (Panoramic Entertainment Pvt Ltd) from the house of established Apollo Tyres Group. There, I was assigned the responsibility of making the concept popular and bringing in more children to play at the first “Drop & Shop” children food and entertainment chain in India. Finally in 2006, I started my stint with DLF which marked my presence in retail and mall business.
Talk us through your journey at DLF and any milestones you'd like to share.
I have been with DLF for almost a decade and the journey has enhanced my experience in the retail realty segment. In the early years of my association with DLF, I headed the food and beverage division, establishing over six food courts and handling leasing of retail space in the segment. The concept became quite a success in the mall business. My next role was as the Vice President and Mall Head at DLF Promenade. It took a lot of effort to position the mall as the fashion destination of Delhi and one of the admired shopping malls in the city. Now, I have taken up the role of Mall Head at the upcoming largest destination of the country, DLF Mall of India (Noida), where I am heading the leasing and mall management division of the mall project. I am also responsible for marketing and operations.
Mall culture in India hasn't been a big hit. What are your views on this?
Contrary to this, we feel that it is the right time for the mall culture to grow. With FDI in retail stepping in the country, the market has been bullish. The existing mall properties have been showing good growth and there is a lot of potential for upcoming malls. The real estate and retail segment have gained momentum. There is going to be a considerable flow of investment from foreign countries which will increase the investment power and therefore, will help sustain the growth of mall business in the country. The business is evolving at a faster pace and the developers are giving a lot of importance not only to the choice of brands but also to the kind of technology and the initiatives they are engaging in. Today, the mall developers are taking a lot of interest in architecture, design and technology used in the construction and operations. The malls in tier I cities have been successfully operational and the focus is now shifting to tier II and II cities as the markets have a lot of potential.
Do you think franchising as a mode of business expansion for various brands has worked in the favour of malls?
Yes, many times, the franchising mode for brands has also worked for the malls. If the franchisee understands the business of the brand and how is it run in the malls, it definitely brings in the revenue to the property and add to the footfalls.
Where do you see the 'mall trend' five years down the line? Which region in the country is showing maximum potential for more malls?
With FDI in retail and many international brands planning to make their debut in India, the future of mall business looks positive in the country. This would benefit large retailers like DLF as well as consumers, who can expect prices to come down by 10-15% in large format stores. Retail giants will play a significant role in improving supply and distribution systems in the country with economies of scale, superior expertise and trained staff. The churn in the country's retail sector has ushered in the multi-brand, all-under-one-roof concept as well as specialty malls as a viable option. As an estimated figure, the average size of new malls is expected to rise by 2.5 times to touch one million sq ft by 2017. DLF Mall of India is the first of its kind venture into the million sq ft concept.
How do you view the competition between malls and high streets? Which trend (of high street shopping or mall shopping) do you think will be on the rise in the near future?
The future of retailing is going to be in malls for any product across the country. Lately, there has been a change in the shopping culture of consumers. The trend of big malls (also called million sq. ft. mall) is catching up across the country. Malls have evolved as per consumers' needs and have become the new destination for shopping. Today, a mall is an extension of a person's lifestyle and is a one-stop destination for consumers who have the disposable income but do not have the time to explore various market places for their requirements and leisure.
How important are the roles of anchor stores and food court for a mall?
Both anchor stores and food court are essential for a mall to be successfully operational. The anchor stores create a distinct positioning of the mall property and draw a larger catchment. Food courts, on the other hand provide stickiness of the audience at the mall i.e. the audience stays much longer at the food courts than other stores and places. Food court is a melting pot for all office societies and the mall should have a well-managed, large food court that provides a variety of eating options in a hygienic environment and at reasonable prices.
Share with us the distribution of space of your mall vis-à-vis different sectors.
The franchising mode for brands has also worked for the malls. If the franchisee understands the business of the brand and how is it run in the malls, it definitely brings in the revenue to the property and add to the footfalls.