An Interview with Benu Sehgal, VP & Head, DLF Utilities Ltd.
In an interview with Franchise India, Benu Sehgal talks about the growth of e-commerce, the current trend in the restaurant industry and the mall gastronomy.
What is the reason that real estate is moving towards e-commerce?
There are many factors; it is like the people are becoming more computer savvy these days and the mobile have become smarter. And this is because the world is changing constantly. The trend which is available 50 years back was no longer available now. The values are different; the platforms are different from the earlier period. It is not that the people have moved, the entire business has moved to another platform there by breaking the walls of the shop.
People sitting in Gurgaon have a peak of the menu which is offered by the restaurants in Far East Delhi. So, the world of the shop has been broken and everything is available at your doorstep, on your table without facing any problem.
Real estate is about two things, the experience and the convenience. When the convenience is backed up the experience take it forward and when the experience is backed up the convenience take it forward.
How can one locate the right combination of High street, Malls & Food courts?
It always depends on what kind of outlet you are planning. If you are planning small kiosks where the kitchen size is smaller and you are not giving the experience but the taste to the clients, then I would suggest that go for the food court where small different types of cuisine is present where the group can enjoy the different cuisines at the same table. But if you are looking at some high-end experience where you want to concentrate on the same cuisine and give a better experience to your client then you can either be at a mall or in the high street. In a mall as regarding timings and charges which are very high but it depends where you have positioned your restaurant. If your restaurant is casual dining a mall is more appropriate but if your restaurant is fine-dining, I would recommend high street.
How do non-traditional locations for food service, such as hospitals, cinemas make decisions on restaurant tenancies?
It has become the necessity. When retentions happen, F&B become an integral part of planning. The hospitals become like malls. I no longer call a hospital a hospital now; it is mall which is meant for treatment of ailment. Food is an integral part; you cannot retain anybody if you cannot retain food. Most of the hospitals have certain restaurants because patients and their near ones spend the entire day on the facility. People from Middle East, Africa and the Far East come to India for treatment. So, the hospitals change their formats; they are no longer a traditional hospital but they are also looking at the convenience of the people who come from far-off places.
Talking about cinemas, when you plan a day out, distances and traffic have become so intense that when you plan a movie it has to be at a place where you can shop and eat. Wherever there is a good movie with good food, you move plan.
How do landlords view Restaurant tenants individually?
A property demands certain types of clientele. If it is a mall then the certain percentage of mall has to be food and beverage and some percentage has to be for fashion. When I am talking about mall developer, I have to allocate certain area to food and beverage because I cannot do without it and I would develop that property with restaurant in mind. I would have planned a space for kitchen, I would have a place for inlet and outlet of water; I would have place for air washer and a constant supply for fresh vegetables and fruits but this is keeping the mall aspect in mind.
Explain something about mall gastronomy?
As a developer I would like to have a small eatery plant at every 10 shops. Ideal situation would be when all the stations have a small coffee shop or a small QSR. Impulse food should be there at every 200 feet. Food not only gives you good revenue but also adds to the flavour of the mall and brings in stickiness. Not only does the area become alive but you also get a good aroma when you visit the mall that make people nibble at the food.
What is the current scenario of retail in India?
India has a very large population of young and as long as there would be people saying ‘I want & I want’, retail will be there. Only thing is one should identify the current trend of the market. The market is low that doesn’t mean you’ll die, as long as this population is there, I want, I desire will be there. The thing is you should know where to put your money and identify which business you should enter.
E-commerce is having great business over retail. Reason
The world is changing and I think that every retailer should become computer savvy and put their product online. You should identify the need and move forward. E-commerce would never take over retail but you should meet the demand of time.