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Women, kids only; malls take the specialist tack

24-July-2004
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Women, kids only; malls take the specialist tack

The Indian mall scene is shifting gears. Sample this: With over 300 malls in the making over the next few years, South-based real estate house Prestige Group is bolstering its mall business with an innovative approach on positioning.

It has embarked on two new projects in Bangalore - to offer a mall experience to factory outlets of prominent brands, and another delivering the same but exclusively for women and children.

The factory outlet mall will be located en route to Whitefield, almost 9 km from the airport.

The 3.5 lakh sq ft project, The Forum Retail Park, is being marketed as "real estate solutions to working capital management", while the gender-specific Prestige Eva, located on Brigade Road in the central business district, is being positioned as a "lingering space" for women and will be much smaller in scale with over 70,000 sq ft area.

Mr Suresh Singaravelu, Head of The Forum, the banner for Prestige's mall business, says success of the malls in the days to come "will depend on the content they carry". Prestige, with the latest projects, wants to break away from the clutter of "general content" malls.

Earlier this year, the real estate group unveiled its first mall named `The Forum' at Koramangala in Bangalore, which has been acclaimed as being among the better managed and more successful projects in the country's nascent mall culture.

The Forum Retail Park is spurred by the emergence of factory outlets dotting Bangalore's retailing skyline. The mall plans to bring together multi-brand, multi-product factory outlets, which are now scattered at the various outposts of the city, under one roof with a value-experience equation.

The project with entertainment and parking space will be implemented keeping in mind the occupancy viability of the factory outlets that work on wafer-thin margins, Mr Singaravelu said.

"We have got good initial response from the brands, and we would like to ensure that they come in with occupancy plans for at least five years," he adds.

Prestige has already talked to brands such as Levi's, Reebok, SF Jeans and Scullers on the possibility of their opening women's-only stores for its Eva project. It is also eyeing names such as L'Oreal or Kaya as anchor tenants.

The project, targeted at the age-group "between one to whatever", will have separate levels for kids and "hedonistic categories" to induce an emotional pull in the women.

Mr Singaravelu says the terrace could be used on a timeshare basis for activities appealing to the gender, and parking space will be strictly for women. Prestige, which is sharpening its mall management skills, is also working on `relevantly different positioning ideas' for its other projects scheduled at a later date.

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