Overall “Mall vacancy in India”,maintains status-quo at 14.5% | Realty Plus

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s latest Retail reports, the overall #MallVacancy, levels across the top eight India cities remained stagnant at 14.47% in Q2 2014, which was recorded around 0.4 percentage points lower compared to Q1 2014…Amongst the top eight cities, Pune witnessed sharpest decline of 2.5 percentage points due to healthy leasing activity and no new mall supply. Ahmedabad, Chennai and Bengaluru also recorded drops of 0.4 percentage point each due to moderate demand for quality mall spaces from apparels and food and beverages (#F&B) retailers…Hyderabad witnessed a rise of 1.1%, in mall vacancy in the same period.

Q2 2014 saw the addition of 370,000 sq ft of new mall space, which was similar to that received in the previous quarter. The supply comprised of 250,000 sq ft in one mall in NCR and the residual 120,000 sq ft in an operational mall in Kolkata. As many as six new malls planned for Q2 2014 witnessed the deferment to the second half of the year, which together accounted for 2.33 million square feet (msf)…

While three malls measuring 700,000 sf in total were delayed in Bengaluru due to approval delays, slower construction pace in tandem with low leasing led to deferment of one mall each in NCR, Pune and Hyderabad, measuring 700,000 sf, 430,000 sf and 500,000 sf respectively.

Sanjay Dutt, Executive Managing Director, South Asia Cushman & Wakefield, said, “The retail and retail real estate markets are still going through a period of uncertainty. Currently, we are witnessing stagnation in the demand-supply dynamics as mall supply is being deferred and existing vacancies remain more or less stable. Whilst everyone is aware of the huge potential that exists for organised retail in India and domestic and international retailers are keen to expand their presence in the country, they are awaiting the conducive conditions to do so. The real estate sector has been maturing to provide better quality spaces and adopting best practices to cater to retailers needs. However, macroeconomic conditions and not just the sentiments need to improve further to encourage consumer spending and the government needs to address the uncertainty that exists with respect to its policy stand on FDI in retail. The RIET’s for commercial properties post successful listings, would potentially open up for shopping center portfolio listings, giving much needed exit route to the developers & investors. This would encourage shopping centre developers to create much needed quality organized retail space at locations that matter. The overall infrastructure to support retail trade such as transportation and logistics too need to improve substantially for the sector to kick in to its next phase of growth.”

According to C&W, mall rentals remained stable across most cities except Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune where a few micro markets depicted rental variations. In Bengaluru, the sharpest rental decline of 13% was noticed in Mysore Road where lower trade densities impacted rentals adversely. Similarly, Cunningham Road in Bengaluru also witnessed lower demand leading to a 10% dip in rentals. On the other hand, Goregaon in Mumbai witnessed a 10% increase in mall rentals due to healthy demand from retailers. In Pune, Hadapsar also witnessed a positive trend in leasing leading to a 9% uptick in mall rentals. In Chennai, almost all mall micro markets witnessed a rental decline from the last quarter due to weakening demand. The sharpest rental dip of 9% came in Chennai-Western where lack of new mall supply hampered retailer demand for this location. Mall rentals in Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata remained stable.

In Pune, JM Road witnessed the highest rental appreciation of 9% due to high demand from fashion and lifestyle retailers. Vashi in Mumbai also witnessed similar rental appreciation due to high interest from apparels and F&B retailers. In Chennai, lack of optimum sized retail spaces led to a 7% decline in main street rentals. Anna Nagar 2nd Avenue in Chennai also witnessed a 7% dip in rentals from last quarter as ongoing infrastructure projects curtailed footfalls. All main streets in NCR, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kolkata recorded stable rentals during this quarter. Vittal Mallaya Road in Bengaluru witnessed a 4% rental drop in wake of dearth of optimum-sized retail spaces and already high rentals commanded by this established main street.

During H1 2014, Bengaluru witnessed no new mall supply; this was primarily owing to the delay in approvals, which led to the deferment of upcoming supply. Meanwhile, the city mall vacancy level registered a dip of 0.4 percentage point and was noted at 7.1% towards the end of Q2 2014 due to the absence of new mall supply and moderate demand from apparels, F&B, footwear and electronics retailers. Although most locations in main streets and mall micro markets recorded stable rental trend this quarter, select main streets and mall micro-markets registered a drop in rentals. Whilst Cunningham Road and Mysore Road mall micro markets witnessed a decline of 10-13% in rentals in the wake of weak trading activity; Bannerghatta Road mall micro market recorded a drop of 3% in order to keep rentals competitive and attract newer brands. Main streets of Brigade Road and Vittal Mallya Road observed a drop of 3-4% in rentals due to limited availability of options with optimum sized floor plates. Going forward, Cunningham Road and Mysore Road mall micro markets may experience further downward pressure on rentals. On the other hand, established main streets such as Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, New BEL Road, Kamanahalli Road and Koramangala 80 Feet Road may witness an upward rental bias owing to healthy enquiries from apparels, F&B, electronics and jewelry brands.

In H1 2014, Chennai did not witness any new shopping malls becoming operational and this led to a marginal decline of 0.4 percentage points in vacancy, which was recorded at 5.9% at the end of this quarter. Cautious sentiments and limited transactions led to a dip in mall rentals across all micro markets. Chennai-Western saw the sharpest decline with a 9% drop owing to the ongoing infrastructure projects, which curtailed footfalls and demand. Amongst main streets, strong demand from jewelry retailers for Usman Road- North and Usman Road- South led to a 4% rental appreciation for these locations. However, no availability of optimum sized floor plates in Cathedral Road-R.K. Salai led to a 7% rental dip for this micro market. Enquiries from jewelry retailers for select main streets near CBD remain high but Anna Nagar-2nd Avenue may witness a negative rental bias due to lack of demand caused by the ongoing metro work. Paucity of quality mall space and low demand may lead to stagnant vacancy levels and rental decline across most micro markets.

The mall stock in Hyderabad remained stable in Q2 2014, with 500,000 sf mall space deferred to the next quarter. Q2 2014 witnessed a rise in vacancy by 1.1 percentage points and was noted at 8.22%. Established main streets such as Himayathnagar, Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Kukatpally witnessed an increase in demand from retailers, belonging to apparels, footwear and F&B categories. In the interim, enquiry level for electronic and apparels brands increased in peripheral locations such as Attapur and Kothapet. Whilst mall and main street rentals remained stable, next quarter the city is likely to witness infusion of 500,000 sf of mall space in Kukatpally micro market, which will put a downward pressure on the rentals.

Kolkata witnessed 120,000 sf of mall supply during the first half of 2014 and the overall city mall vacancy increased marginally by 0.07 percentage points. Limited transactions and moderate demand for retail space was recorded. Owing to lack of availability of quality retail space on main streets, malls witnessed more demand compared to main streets. Central and East locations continued to see majority of the leasing activity in both malls and main streets owing to churn and ready catchment. The first half of 2014 witnessed leasing activity predominantly from the apparels segment but rentals remained stable in both main streets and malls.

The first half of 2014 did not witness the opening of any new malls in Mumbai. Despite no new supply, churn in malls led to overall mall vacancies increasing marginally by 0.06 percentage points to 15.4%. During Q2, healthy demand led to mall rentals at Goregaon and Vashi appreciating 10% and 5% respectively while high vacancy levels in malls in Bhandup resulted in developers reducing rentals by 5% to attract retailers. Limited churn kept mall rentals stable in all other locations of the city. Main streets in Mumbai witnessed vibrant leasing activity with domestic and foreign retailers in the apparels and F&B segments actively expanding their presence at locations like Vashi, Lower Parel, Andheri and Linking Road. Owing to high footfall and thriving retail demand in Vashi, strong interest of retailers led to rentals appreciating by 9%. Mall rentals at select locations such as Lower Parel and Malad could appreciate due to higher demand for quality space. Main streets are also expected to witness improved leasing activity in the coming months. Increasing demand for space in main street locations such as Linking Road, Borivali and Thane could lead to increase in rental values.

Delhi-NCR witnessed one new shopping mall measuring 250,000 sf become operational with 60% occupancy levels in H1 2014. Amidst moderate interest among retailers to foray into new and emerging locations, developers continued with slow pace of construction deferring completion of malls. During Q2 2014, overall mall vacancy was recorded at 13.5%, which is 0.06 percentage points higher due to the influx of new mall space. With balanced demand supply conditions, rentals remained stable across all mall locations.

 

“Building a Luxury-Brand Image” in a Digital World | INSEAD

Luxury Managers often see #DigitalMedia, as a threat, worrying that mass appeal will take power away from the #Brand. But digital channels offer powerful connections with customers and closer integration with their ecosystems.

“Hermès has no desire to become “masstige” (a mass producer of prestige goods) said the company’s CEO Patrick Thomas in 2009, despite two-year waiting lists for its famous Birkin or Kelly handbags at the time. The luxury brand maintained that it did not want to dilute the brand image and compromise on quality in the interest of short-term profits…

Such a dilemma is par for the course in Luxury and is also applicable to the digital presence of the companies in the industry: How to maintain demand and a big customer base while remaining exclusive? This is all the more important as #DigitalChannels, “expose” brands regardless of whether they want to or not, through the hundreds of thousands of press articles, comments and pictures that are posted daily about #LuxuryBrands…If Brands do not embrace digital media, they risk being shut out of conversations about their products..

Hermès has resisted selling any of its “core”, highly sought-after collections online, and the company emphasises that its brand website is more of a channel for consumers to explore the world of Hermès, from its seasonal inspiration, to its heritage, art and museum collaborations and exhibitions. The same is seen on the company’s Facebook page…#Hermès, has also embraced the mobile app channel but only with their Silk Knots app that educates consumers on how to vary their scarf tying techniques.

Since digital attracts a much younger demographic not necessarily seen in physical stores yet, educating customers and other stakeholders about the brand’s DNA and what it seeks to represent is central to building the future generation of customers whose spending power will increase with age. Such approaches also entice them to the exclusivity of the store. To successfully engage people on digital channels while maintaining “distance” from the mass market, brands must answer two key questions: first, how to coordinate offline and online efforts to offer the best multichannel experience? And second, how to build an exclusive image online?

How to marry Bricks and Clicks ?

Luxury and fashion brands built their brand promise through a unique in-store environment and intimate personalised service that they can hardly transfer to the online world. So how should luxury brands marry bricks with clicks? Critics within the industry are often opposed to bringing clicks to bricks, arguing that the former endangers the later by cannibalising sales and potentially threatening the brand image by making the brand more accessible through online channels and social media.

While these dangers exist, deserting digital media would be even more problematic and would leave room for rivals to build awareness and competition, and prevent the brand from actively engaging with customers and responding to critics. In fact, brands that have been very successful so far have focused on maximising the synergies and complementarities with physical stores..

For instance, multi label boutiques like Lane Crawford and Neiman Marcus that have long started their #E-commerce sites, do encourage and enable customers to pick up their e-purchases in store, or visit a store for exchanges or refunds. It is a way to drive double footfall and traffic both online and offline. The key differentiating factor of luxury brands is and will remain the store experience and customer service, hence many luxury brands feel that a consumer needs to ultimately walk into a store to experience this, in order to gain “true” customer loyalty in the long-term. In sum, digital engagement should be seen as a way to leverage an additional consumer touch point, rather than jeopardising existing sales.

Second, inherent to the notion of luxury is that it supposes to create a distance between the brand and its customers  to create the dream…But this is in direct contradiction to the notion that social media and digital channels connect people with one another and lower the barriers to entry.

How to build a Prestigious Image?

The power of image relates to how a brand can increase its brand awareness and value by embracing and leveraging different digital channels to reach consumers.  It is further complicated when different consumer groups choose different digital channels.  Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs, certain brands have compartmentalised their reach differently. This gives consumers the choice of which platform to be engaged with depending on which resonates most strongly with their lifestyle and desires, and also gives the opportunity for brands to intelligently use browsing data in order to more effectively target specific demographics.

The Burberry Facebook page for example, is very product driven, and lists many smaller accessory pick up items like wallets, clutches, sunglasses, versus their higher end exotic lines. It also features more of the brand’s music influences, which is not seen on its Twitter and Instagram accounts. The company’s Instagram account is much more “backstage” driven, with scenes of London; behind the scenes photo shoots; and live pictures from runway shows. This appeals to the slightly more visual and artistic customer who craves instant gratification from staying updated and plugged in real-time. The Mulberry blog, or journal is much more lifestyle-driven, and posts much less product, but more on styling influences, travel stories, events and even food recipes.

By giving people the opportunity to give their own representation of brands online, the Digital Revolution has led to much more fragmented, bottom-up, multifaceted #BrandBuilding…In turn, this requires that #LuxuryCompanies step up and strategically engage in image building with #Customers, and use digital platforms as a springboard for engagement and sales…