Were looking to deliver one mall every year

Written by Sohini Mitter | Updated: Feb 22 2011, 04:28am hrs
K Raheja Corporation operated retail development chain, Inorbit Mall, which has three properties in India, is on rapid expansion mode with the slated launch of three centres in the next two years. Kishore Bhatija, director & CEO, Inorbit, talks to FEs Sohini Mitter on the companys expansion plans, marketing strategies, award-winning social initiatives and challenges in retail development.

How have you planned your roll out of malls

Were looking at delivering at least one centre every year and 2 centres annually in the next couple of years. We exist in 3 locations today, at Malad, Vashi and Hyderabad. Our fourth centre will come up in March in Pune, the fifth at Whitefield in Bangalore during Diwali next year and another open-format centre in Pune by 2013. Depending upon the location and size of the centre, weve made an investment varying from Rs 200 to 300 crore per mall.

Inorbits expansion has mostly been in the tier I cities of south and west India. Why

Owing to the presence of our parent company in these areas, we've received great support in terms of acquisition of land, rentals, manpower and expertise when we rolled out malls. That helped us to determine the size of the mall and the nature of the catchment area. We're actively scouting for properties in tier II and III cities. When we get the correct patch of land at a good price, we'll build our malls there.

How does Inorbit break out from the clutter of malls

A very crucial part of mall operations is to provide a unique experience to the customer. Malls everywhere are housing same brands. It is ultimately the experience that counts. Inorbit tries to stand by its tagline of A million experiences. From the time that the customer steps into the campus, to the ease of parking, the convenience of going up the mall, the overall ambience and shopping comforts have to be taken care of. There has to be a certain novelty factor as well. Various events and promotions, live performances and social media marketing is what Inorbit does on a regular basis.

What are the challenges faced by retail developers

The biggest challenge is to get good land at a good price. Were in a very competitive environment while acquiring land.

There are people who want to put up a residential complex or a hotel or an IT park there. The construction cost and the gestation period of a mall are other challenges. It takes about 4 years to fully set up a centre and start operations. It takes nearly 12 months for the mall to get fully occupied.

The retailer needs another 6-9 months to settle down and understand the catchment he is catering to and the products his clients want. The business takes another 5-6 years to become cash-positive. It is a complex long-term process.

How do social initiatives aid retailers

Social initiatives allow retailers to engage with the customer. Through our community programs, we connect with 100 residential societies situated around our malls.

We have education programs for children. By interacting closely with customers, we know their perceptions and minute needs better.