In a country with a burgeoning middle class, for whom entertainment means a day out with family, malls have come to play an important role in the way people spend quality time. But as consumer tastes and needs evolve, Indians get greater overseas exposure and ecommerce gains momentum, the business of malls has come to face its own set of challenges. It is not surprising to see some of the earliest malls wear a deserted look, despite being located in the heart of the city. The old formula of ‘great location and a big anchor store means a successful mall’ is now being turned on its head as some of the leading names regularly redraw their strategies to remain relevant in an ever-evolving space.
Welcome to the world of Indian malls, where making predictions about profitability and success is as risky as predicting where the stock market will be three years hence. Today, mall owners have begun realising that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success. This is what Forbes India’s reporters, who fanned out across the country, speaking to a number of leading mall owners, real estate players and mall management consultants, gathered while putting together the cover story. The only constant for mall owners in these changing times is the need to reinvent and reinvest, and review the retail mix in their properties. Old and tested formulas like selling of retail space at malls is now making way for lease deals. And one thing is getting clear: Mall owners cannot be in a hurry to make money. This business needs patient capital.
In line with the focus on the retail sector, this issue also brings you how one of the country’s biggest retailers, Kishore Biyani’s Future Group, is reworking its strategy with an emphasis on analytics to tell him what his consumers really want. Biyani’s ambitious target: To get his one crore regular customers to shop for Rs 1 lakh a year, bringing him revenues of Rs 1 lakh crore. As Biyani tells Assistant Editor Samar Srivastava, by 2020, he wants to transform his Future Group into a technology company, one that is more about analytics than retail.
We also bring you Asia’s Power Business Women for 2015. This list of 50 outstanding women has six from India, three of whom, not surprisingly, are bankers—State Bank of India’s Arundhati Bhattacharya, ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank’s Shikha Sharma. Interestingly, all three of them have featured on the cover of this magazine during the course of the last few years.