Terror hits retail biz, malls to beef up security

Written by Mona Mehta | Mumbai | Updated: Nov 29 2008, 06:42am hrs
Large shopping malls and retailers in Mumbai have witnessed a massive dent in business over the past two days, following the latest terror attack in the city. While retail outlets in South Mumbai remained closed through Thursday and Friday, many shopping malls in the suburbs registered meagre footfalls. Some retailers claimed that their businesses took a 50% hit.

The attacks in posh South Mumbai locations have made increasing the level of security vigilance the top agenda for mall developers. Sanjay Prabhu, general manager, InOrbit Mall told FE, "We plead the authorities to allow security personnel of large format retail malls and hypermarkets to stock and use guns like AK-47. Prevention is always better than cure. We are looking at increasing the presence of security personnel in our premises by 25-30%." He added that over the past two days, the mall has witnessed a 40-50% dip in footfall.

It may be noted that gunmen are generally present outside jewellery showrooms. Sadanand Pawar, president, Gitanjali Gems, said, "We are now looking at beefing up security measures and increasing the number of gunmen from one to two at every entry and exit point of our jewellery showrooms, apart from installing many close circuit cameras (CCTVs)."

Pawar said that due to the terror attacks, two of Gitanjali's stores, Hoop in Kemps Corner and Bezel in Linking Road, were shut for the past two days, and will continue remaining shut for "protection of the staff".

"Due to this, our business has definitely been affected," he added.

Kishore Biyani, chief executive officer, Future Group, told FE, "Security of the company is an internal concern. We want police authorities to allow security officials to stock and use guns, as adopting new security measures are a top priority now."

Future Group is focussing on expanding the base of security personnel and metal detectors at all its retail format stores, including hypermarkets.

Dharmesh Jain, managing director, Nirmal Lifestyle, said, "We are increasing the presence of security personnel on shop floors by 25%. We are also installing new technological metal detectors to face any possible attacks on malls in the future."

He also said that just expanding the base of metal detectors will not work. "The security personnel of large shopping malls, hypermarkets and retail outlets should be allowed to use AK-47 guns by police authorities. This is not the time to think, but act and agree to our proposals," he said.