From 0.4 million sq ft of retail space in 2008 to almost 4 million sq ft spread across five shopping malls a decade later, DLF Shopping Malls has come a long way ahead. It has now set its sights at doubling this number in the next five to six years. Pushpa Bector, vice president and head, DLF Shopping Malls, tells Vandana Ramnani of Moneycontrol that the company has a turnover of over Rs 3000 crore in sales and plans to grow by 12 percent year-on-year. It is also hoping to expand within Delhi-NCR as that is ‘where the consumption is’ but is evaluating a holiday resort space outside the national Capital.
Tell us about DLF Shopping Malls’ expansion plans?
We are capable of inorganic acquisitions and going across. We have developed a scalable model now. At this point in time, we are ready to expand. However, we do believe that Delhi NCR has the highest consumption for retail at this point in time and hence our focus is going to be Delhi NCR. Fortunately, we have the right land bank in Delhi NCR. We have a mall in Chandigarh that is now operational. We are evaluating a retail spaces outside Delhi – a holiday resort town being the first one.
How many sq ft of space are you targeting by 2024?
Currently we have 4 million sq ft of retail space spread across five retail properties. We hope to plan to definitely double this. We are looking at 8 million sq ft in the next five to six years.
Our current investment for Mall of India is about Rs 2,000 crore. How much we intend investing in our retail assets, depends from property to property as each property has its unique construction requirements – one cannot follow a cookie cutter approach. Having said that, in order to expand the retail portfolio, we would definitely want to double it with three four properties and we are definitely looking at a 200 percent increase over this.
Any plans for taking the Mall of India brand to other cities?
It is thought that is there in our mind. If the right model and the right location comes our way, we are open to the idea. But it has to be a strategically right location.
Why are you planning to expand in a market where consolidation of retail spaces is the norm?
There have also been reports that organised retail is growing at 18 percent to 19 percent. We are seeing consumption growing. We are witnessing that malls spaces give stable income. We went through cycles of demonetisation, introduction of GST etc but we did not notice fluctuating sales.
Are you looking at making changes to the tenant mix?
Currently, we have about 630 brands. We plan growing this bouquet to over 1,000 brands in the next five year because consumption is growing across our properties. In Mall of India, it is growing by 19-20 percent. In mature properties such as Promenade, it is growing by about 12 percent, which is healthy. We believe that there is growth in the retail segment and the maximum energy is in the shopping malls segment, especially the premium segment.
How are you planning to meet the challenge of e-commerce?
We have already made a start in the digitisation space. We believe that it is important for malls to be not just a physical space, they should come alive on our mobile phones, they should be interactive spaces. We have adopted a three-pronged approach in this direction. One is a basic vanilla approach – we have made sure there is free WiFi across all our properties. This helps us engage with consumers directly. The second step is consumer analytics. This helps us understand the consumer journey within our properties. And the third approach is through the app route. We have launched Lukout app.
Alongside the e-commerce space what appeals the most to consumers are the offers they get. We have empowered store managers to be able to give offers on the Lukout platform on their own. Through this app, consumers will find newer offers each time and that would help them plan their shopping better, which is what an e-commerce space does. Here we are doing it in the brick-and-mortar space and there is more energy. Our digitization efforts will certainly get people back into the malls rather them stay at home.
Tell us about your plans to scale up brands — are you looking at enhancing the presence of international brands over local ones?
We have seen both local and international brands grow. The bouquet of true blue Indian players is over 30 to 35 percent. In the Food and Beverages space, it is the Indian brands that are doing phenomenally well. They account for almost 20 percent. There are very few international brands that are successful in this space. Most of these F and B brands are primarily entrepreneurial in nature. Having said that, international fashion anchors are on the growth trajectory. Our focus is to get more private label fashion brands rather than department stores.
Your views on the new e-commerce policy
Our view is that the government through this policy is trying to create a level-playing field. It would ensure that a consumer does not go shopping only because of the discounts available. Discounts have to be given with responsibility. That is the thought process and to ensure that the smaller players are not squashed in the bargain. I believe this will have a positive impact in rationalising the market. Otherwise people were only buying because of discounts and that may not be a healthy thing.