Even as Covid-19 raged on, Brigade Enterprises’ residential business bounced back, recording its highest-ever yearly sales of 4.6 million sq ft (MSF) in FY21, aided by pent-up demand and favourable market dynamics. Brigade’s executive director Pavitra Shankar told Rishi Ranjan Kala the developer will focus on the increasing contribution of Hyderabad and Chennai to at least 40% of its overall residential portfolio. Edited excerpts:
How would you analyse Brigade’s performance in the last 12-18 months?
In terms of sales, Brigade recorded its highest ever yearly sales of 4.6 MSF in FY21 in the residential space. Our business, like many others, had to adapt overnight to the situation and rethink business processes that could help sustain the brand. Big learning has been that we need to ramp up our investment in technology and business processes to reduce impact from future disruptions.
What are your launch plans in residential for FY22?
In Q1 FY22, we ended with 0.76 MSF of new bookings. We launched 12 new projects including phases in larger townships, adding to almost 4 MSF through our flagship sales event — Brigade Showcase. While our primary focus will continue to be Bengaluru, going forward, we will aim to expand the contribution of Hyderabad and Chennai to at least 40% of our overall portfolio. While we had previously communicated a launch pipeline of almost 2 MSF for the next four quarters (of FY22), we have already surpassed that number in Q2, thanks to 12 launches in Brigade Showcase in August 2021.
What are your plans for office and retail in FY22?
In Q1 FY22, we did about 1 lakh sq ft of new leases. We have concluded lease renewals of around 2 lakh sq ft in Q4 FY21 and concluded lease agreements of 3.45 lakh sq ft in Brigade Southfield and finalised lease of 1.77 lakh sq ft in Brigade Senate. These have been taken up by Fortune 500 firms. As of date our high probability pipeline constituting large, medium and small tenant enquiries is around 1 MSF feet in Brigade Tech Gardens, Bengaluru; WTC Chennai and Brigade International Financial Centre, GIFT City, Gujarat. We have three operational malls in Bengaluru under the Orion Malls brand. Although severely hit by the state’s lockdown, recovery was quick after the reopening of malls in July 2021. Almost 1.80 lakh sq ft is freshly leased and under fit-out which is 14% of the gross total area leasable across all our malls. These retailers are scheduled to open in favour by end of Q3 FY22.
What are your plans for the WTC brand?
We hold a WTC licence for five markets – Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad and Trivandrum. The first three are marquee office SEZ properties that are already operational. We have shortlisted land for WTC Trivandrum and are looking for the right target property in Hyderabad. There can be only one WTC per economic zone, so having the licence of a quality Class A development only furthers the desirability of the location and project for prospective tenants.
You are largely in South India, with GIFT city being an exception. Do you have any plans for expanding to other parts of India?
We are currently focused on Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, and Hyderabad and GIFT city, and will look at expanding to other markets at an appropriate time. We are scaling up our presence in Chennai and Hyderabad specifically. This will take focus for the next couple of years.
Covid-19 has altered consumer behaviour significantly. What has been your experience?
The key trend is that customers continue their preference for completed inventories and larger units. There is high demand for homes priced between `50 lakh-1 crore, especially from larger players. Post lifting of the nationwide lockdown, customers preferred completed or nearing completion homes so that they could move in as quickly as possible. They also preferred going for an extra bedroom or study area, due to WFH, online school, and requirement for individual areas in a shared space. The focus on large outdoor spaces and the desire for integrated townships has also increased. At the upper end of the segment, we see demand for villas or second homes.
How has Brigade made use of digital avenues?
Our forward acceptance of IT solutions about sales and marketing equipped us to withstand the pressure of lockdowns. Customers can avail virtual interactive walkthroughs, schedule site visits and even book properties online. From experience, however, we have noticed that while customers are comfortable doing the initial part of buying process online, they prefer physical inspection of the property before signing on the dotted line. We also used technology to improve the post-sales experience concerning faster documentation, customer portal, and online payments.