Malls have a few things going for them that can’t be replicated online. For one, they afford customers the chance to see, touch and feel before buying, something that can’t be done through their computer or smartphone screens. Real-world shopping and entertainment experiences also deliver instant gratification. Queency Bhasin, CEO, The Grand Venice, talks about the need to create a differentiation factor as the key USP for the mall to survive in this digital age. She feels that a mall, when combined with a theme and an entertainment zone, becomes a social space for people to visit again and again.
The Grand Venice is modern India’s first mega tourist destination. The theme is Italy’s Venice City. We have the Dodges Palace, Italy and other tourist elements like Fountain D Trevi, Statue of Julius Caesar and the clock tower – all reminiscent of Italian architecture and its glory. On the inside, there are two canals complete with Gondola rides. The inside is a replica of Venice city architecture, including the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Tell us in detail about the promoters and management of The Grand Venice mall?
The mall is promoted by Bhasin Group, which was established in 1969 and boasts of an extremely diversified portfolio. The group started business operations with Bhasin Motors under the Chairmanship of J.S. Bhasin. It later got into the business of real estate and has since, grown into being one of the most trusted names in the sector. With a vision to create inspirational and aspiration living/ working/ retail spaces, the group has already carved quite a name for itself.What was the rationale and inspiration behind introducing the Venetian Theme based mall in India?
In land-locked cities there is great fascination for water canals and boating and in India no other mall has come up with such a concept. The other reason for introducing a Venetian theme in the mall was to showcase the beauty of Venice to Indian people, so even if because of time paucity or financial reasons they can’t go to Venice, they can at least enjoy its replica in the city.
Please elaborate on the features of the Venetian theme at the mall?
Venice is all about beautiful infrastructure, water bodies and Gondola ride and that’s what you will find inside this mall.
What is the total built-up area? Out of the total, what is the gross leasable area (GLA)?
Our total built up is 32 lakh sq.ft. and the GLA is 13 lakh sq.ft.
What is the occupancy percentage of the mall?
As of now, the mall is 25 per cent occupied but in the next 60 days there will be around 50 per cent occupancy.
What was the thought behind the location strategy - choosing Greater Noida?
Greater Noida is part of the tourist circuit on Golden Triangle. It is situated on the way to Agra and is supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure. The Golden Triangle is one of the fastest growing business hubs, commercial hubs and education hubs. This was an ideal choice.
Tell us about the catchment area of this mall?
We consider the complete population of Delhi NCR as well as tourists in the city as our catchment area. To be more specific, the floating student population of around 4 lakh in universities and colleges, which are located within 10 minutes distance from the mall. Our mall is the first touch point to a population of 4 lakh rural and nearest Tier II locations like Bulandshahr, Hathras, Mathura, Sikandrabad, and Aligarh. These regions have good disposable cash income and they do spend on the aspirational products.
What sort of footfalls are you receiving? Have you been successful in creating ‘The Grand Venice’ as a ‘destination mall’?
We are getting footfalls of 5,000 people every day and during weekends this goes up to 15,000.
Are you coming up with any other retail real estate project? If yes, how you plan to extend this concept in your other commercial projects?
Yes, we are coming up with another project called Festival City at Sector - 143 Noida. Festival City Noida will be India’s largest open air, high-street, retail project with over 1,500 retail shops affording us huge prospects to tap huge market. The project offers shops at very competitive and affordable prices. It is well planned and is being built with all modern amenities.
Which are the main anchor stores and key vanilla retailers in your mall?
Any new sign-ups?
What is the importance of food courts in new age malls? Tell us about your food court and the F&B brands present in your mall?
Nowadays, food courts act like an anchor for the mall. It plays a key role in driving footfalls to a mall, and is a mutually beneficial entity that works in tandem with the mall. The synergy in a food court provides add-on advantages to the mall and vice versa. The concept behind the food court was to complement the mall for dining options, using a format which is easily accessible, convenient and a crowd puller. We have Delhi NCR’s biggest fine dine food court – Terrazzo – with the seating capacity of 1,300+. Brands like Karim’s, Chicago Pizza, Moti Mahal, Grill Inn, Rolls King, Kulfiano and many more are part of our food court. From Kashmiri to Hyderabadi, Mughlai to street food, South Indian to Chinese, we have all sorts of cuisines at our food court.
What are the key amenities and facilities provided for shoppers?
We have the following services: - Information Desk - Lost & found - First aid - Washrooms for the differently-abled - 24 Hour on site security - Wheelchair accessibility and facility - Valet parking
Who is your multiplex partner; please elaborate a bit on the same?
We have a five-screen Cinepolis Multiplex in our mall. Cinépolis India is the first international exhibitor in the country and currently operates 265 screens. It is also one of the fastest growing multiplex chains in the country.
Tell us about the zoning at the Grand Venice Mall?
We have category wise zoning for hypermarket, departmental stores, apparel (women, men and kids), shoes, accessories, jewellery and watches, home décor, home furnishing, electronics and more. Apart from this, we have zoning for F&B, cinema and gaming.
How is the parking space designed?
We have 2,500+ car parking space spread over three levels.
Do you think there is enough land space for million plus sq. ft. malls in India? Can India as a market to sustain such malls?
Million sq.ft. malls are able to cater to entire families. These days people visit a mall for spending the entire day. They want to shop and be entertained. Large format malls are more successful as they have a large variety of activities and offers for the entire family. The presence of international and domestic brands – which requires a co-tenancy as well as like-minded brands – helps million sq.ft. malls.
How is it possible for mall owners to justify their investment and revenues, with the rise in inflation, increasing cost of living and growing cost of infrastructure?
In a lease model the rental tends to increase with footfalls/ sales per sq. ft. and in long term, this brings in the returns.
What do you think is the future of retail real estate in India?
The retail real estate sector will be organized and more disciplined in the future, in my opinion. Due to high population and increasing income levels, we forsee a robust demand in the future.