It will be a convergence of shopping, entertainment and eating when Crossroads, the ambitious shopping mall, promoted by Piramal Holdings Ltd, is launched in Mumbai by mid-August. The world-class mall, spread out over an area of 1,50,000 sq ft, is located in the upmarket Haji Ali area in south Mumbai. Its glittering glass structure and the modern paraphernalia of retractable roof, car elevators, a video wall and a spacious atrium lend the desi venture a truly international look.
The Piramal group has its presence mainly in pharmaceuticals and textiles. It has regularly been in the news for its acuisitions and alliances in the pharma business. Crossroads is the group's first venture into the retail business.
Says Ajay Piramal, chairman of the group, "Crossroads is in keeping with the large destination format that is emerging in the Indian retail industry." Shopping and entertainment will take new meaning altogether when Crossroads pioneers the concept of "shoppertainment" to the consumer. "It is targeted at the family. It's more than just shopping. It will be a destination landmark for Mumbai."
Piramal, who feels that Crossroads will break even in about a year's time, does not rule out the idea of expanding to other Indian cities in the future. But for that, the company is more likely to go for joint ventures, either with foreign multinationals or Indian companies.
Piramal recognises that the business of developing and managing malls calls for a new generation of specialised management skills, integrating technology design and managerial input. Apart from its shopping arcades, Crossroads will offer venues for concerts, fashion shows and fun events. Of the entire area, as much as 60,000 sq ft have been devoted to the shopping arcade and about the same area for family entertainment.
According to the promoters, some of the most famous names in business, like Shyam Ahuja, Ensemble, Lacoste, Swarovski, L'Oreal, Zegma, Hallmark, Rohit Bal's, Ritu's and International Book Depot's Fountainhead, will have their outlets located at the mall. In addition, apparel franchise brands like Levi's, Planet Kids, Lee Cooper, Adidas, Reebok, Nike and Benetton will also have their own shops in the mall.
The recreation arcade, Jammin', is to spread over three floors covering a 20,000 sq ft area. It will have a bowling alley and facilities for games like bumping cars, virtual reality games and simulation games.
On the food front, the mall will have a huge food court offering six different types of cuisine, ranging from Chinese to Italian to Lebanese. In addition, there will be a huge McDonald's outlet. Piramal feels that the company's advantage in mall management comes from the team of professional managers with international experience in the business of managing malls, which the group has put together. The group will focus on mall management and maintenance and most of the operating units would be leased to the best-in-class businesses, which would in turn bring in their own specialised business skills and investments.
The Piramal group commissioned several management studies by McKinsey and Kurt Salmon Associates-Technopak, and consumer research studies by IMRB and Indica, before entering the mall management business. It has engaged Singapore-based DP Architects Pte, Mumbai-based Kapadia Associates Pvt Ltd, Structureflex of Australia, Afcons, Bo Steiber of Singapore, Tracy Turner Design of the US, Bose Corporation of US and Meinhardt Engineering of Singapore, for putting up Crossroads.
Piramal stresses that Crossroads is not targeted at the premium market. "At Crossroads, there will be something for everybody," is his opening line.