“Large Mixed-use Retail Schemes” are the Most-Desired Style of Projects in Indian Real-estate space | ET Retail

Malls in India and elsewhere are increasingly becoming #LifestyleDestinations, posing challenges for #MallDesigners, as they need to create retail properties that engage, are cost efficient and sustainable…From mixed-use developments to family entertainment centres (#FEC) to streets and squares–such as those in Dubai–mall designers are constantly trying to innovate with #RetailFormats…Head and director of UK-based mall design firm, spoke on the latest trends in mall design…The company has designed #ShoppingCentres, in India such as DLF Place in Saket, Delhi, Phoenix Mills in Mumbai and Pacific Mall, also in the National Capital Region(#NCR)..!! 

Going by your experience of designing malls in India and abroad, what are the latest trends internationally that define shopping complex properties today?

The latest trends which we are seeing reflect the changing Global #RetailLandscape…#Consumer Demands are shifting because of the growth of #e-commerce, and designers must now create retail developments which entice shoppers beyond shopping. Creating a retail environment that is as much about leisure, as it is about retail, is essential..

Retail environments need to be in tune with and fully embrace developing lifestyle choices. Visitors should be able to enjoy a much broader experience, rather than be limited to simply shopping alone. Benoy is seeing many more mixed-use developments, which incorporate retail alongside other elements such as residential and commercial offices. These can become iconic structures that also encourage a variety of activities in the shape of leisure offers, entertainment and dining, and which ultimately create a destination. Any great mall design should also be flexible and adaptable so that it can compete with future competition, which employ the most advanced technology.

What kind of retail format has the highest demand in India, according to you– kiosks, speciality retail formats, large size formats etc.

The larger mixed-use retail schemes are the most desired style of projects in India at the present, but there is not a prevalent style or format for retail. Our schemes illustrate a mix of unit types, creating a balanced retail offer. Moreover, because India is so large and diverse, it is hard to define one style of retail design which will be successful and attractive to all areas of the country.

Always approaches India as a continent rather than a country due to the sheer magnitude of the market…The firm understands that what works well in one city may not necessarily translate to another in terms of look, feel and scale. As a country with a wide range of people, finance and consumerism, it is imperative to understand who the regional client is. As designers, Benoy is also very mindful of the natural surroundings and the history of the city.

When it comes to controlling costs of mall construction and design, how can a mall developer cut down on the expense of designing a mall yet make it more consumer friendly?

In other parts of the world, there is a defined trend towards retail developments that are either enclosed malls with natural ventilation strategies or which are open to the environment. Both allow the developer to reduce initial capital expenditure and ongoing running costs, particularly where mechanical conditioning is concerned. Of course, these strategies are not applicable in all parts of the world, yet even in Dubai, a part of the world with an aggressive environment during its summer months, there is a new wave of ground breaking open street developments – streets and squares, if you like – that are setting new benchmarks in sustainable developments. So in parts of India with a benign climate, such strategies should have a role to play.

Also seeing an emphasis of simplification of development so that the nature of the construction is cost efficient. That is not to say that developments should be visually bland or banal, rather that the architectural solution hides an efficiency of construction.

What is the contribution of the mall developer when it comes to facilitating a mall design and construction? Do you think Indian mall developers are up to the mark in that respect ?

Is seeing a wide variety of retail developments across all parts of the Indian retail scene. Of course, like elsewhere in the world, not all projects are world class, but there is a fast developing industry which is devouring new ideas and strategies.

In this, the developer is key. Despite the importance of the statutory authorities, the developer controls the funding, design and construction streams like the conductor of an orchestra. Their role is crucial in setting the tone and direction for any project.

Which international trends that have been extremely popular can be adopted in India according to you?

India is becoming an extremely popular market for foreign companies because of the opportunities on offer…This has led to a highly competitive environment, which is fantastic for driving growth but does highlight the need to have an established brand that sets you apart from your competitors. The recent global downturn has led to developers spending more wisely and they are becoming more selective about the partners they identify as bringing the most value to developments. As designers, it is essential that we offer beautiful schemes that are commercially viable.

Internationally, the rise in dining as an important component of any development has been well documented and it is an important trend that will define the nature of Indian retail developments over the coming years. Out will go standard, run-of-the-mill food courts to be replaced by higher-quality food villages and individual restaurants – dining will be an important anchor..

What are some of the top observations on Indian shoppers according to your psychographic studies?

As an #EmergingMarket, India has the advantage of being able to look to other countries and evaluate what works well. India, therefore, has become a platform for some of the most ambitious designs currently being actioned and offers one of the most exciting retail environments…

Shopping in India is therefore no longer a requirement, rather a choice – a leisure activity – has observed that Indian shoppers take great pleasure in the social aspects of “#RetailTherapy”…Whether Indian shoppers are couples, groups of young people or families, the social aspect of shopping is important and will continue to become more important over the coming years…!!

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