Benzer Group To Foray Into Retail Malls

Mumbai: | Updated: Nov 14 2002, 05:30am hrs
In a strategic move, the Rs 200-crore Benzer Group of companies is planning to foray into the retail mall segment for the first time. With this move, the group plans to set up its first retail mall called Center One with three lakh sqft capacity at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, at an investment of Rs 40 crore by mid-2003.

Says Benzer Department Stores Pvt Ltd managing director Hemang Savla: Centre One will be owned by the Benzer Group, and managed by the groups 100 per cent subsidiary called Fashion Lifestyles (India) Ltd, which is in the business of mall development and management with Center OneVashi being its first project.

After setting up its first mall at Vashi, the company is also looking at the possibilities of expanding the number of Center One malls at select Western suburbs in Mumbai. With the move, we hope our overall sales turnover to grow by an additional 10 per cent by 2003-04 end. In fact, the break-even is expected to come in the next five to seven years of operations, informs Mr Savla.

Spread across four floors with 90 outlets, Centre One mall will also include 15,000 sqft space for food court, a 5,000 sqft video game parlour, pool tables, music and book store and a specially designed creche for toddlers. In addition, the mall will provide frequently needed services such as travel desk, laundry collection desk, ATMs, key maker, florist, beauty salon, photo studio and specialty tailor, adds Mr Savla.

According to Mr Savla, the retail mall has been conceptualised by US-based design house RTKL and constructed by UK-based Trafalgar House. The interiors have been designed by Khurshed Vazir and Associates. To invest Rs 40 crore on this project, we have sourced 40 per cent of the funds from internal accruals and the remaining 60 per cent from Bank of India and Bank of Baroda. In fact, space in the mall is available on a lease basis, informs Mr Savla.

On the companys foray into the retail mall concept, Mr Savla explains that the Benzer Group has been in retailing for the last 20 years and has seen the market evolve. The concept of a destination providing complete proposition to families has been on the agenda for quite some time.

But what made the company choose Vashi in New Mumbai Replies Mr Savla: The group has been eyeing developments in this area and realised that the complete belt starting from Panvel right up to Ghatkopar was highly under-penetrated as far as organised avenues for shopping, food and entertainment were concerned.

The target audience for the mall will be Sec A & B class with the age group 0 to 60 and household income of Rs 10,000 and above, adds Mr Savla.

In order to create awareness about Center One, the group has earmarked an additional Rs 1.5 crore for hosting ground promotions and mass media advertising.