Sunday, March 14, 2010

GVK One


I was travelling two weeks ago on my second official trip to Hyderabad since Nov. 2009 and was naturally intrigued by this imposing structure, rightly called GVK ONE. This Mall which has been in the making since 2005, finally opened for business in full-swing during late last year. Spread over 625,000 sft across four floors and two levels of basement parking that could collectively accomodate over 700 cars and 500 two wheelers, this is by far the largest Mall in the central part of Hyderabad and would remain so for some time to come. The promoter, as the name goes is none other than the GVK Group – leaders in Infrastructure and Power business in India, who manage various TAJ hotels in the city and also operate the Mumbai Airport and recently bought a controlling stake in Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL). I am told that the name of the mall is known to be based on two reasons – one, that it is the address of the Mall on the Banjara Hills and the other being that this is the first Mall project of the group. The location itself is stunning - bang in the middle of the most affluent locality in the city, where according to a survey made a couple of years ago by the Group, the average household annual income among residents is over INR 5 lakhs. From the choice of the paint on the exterior and interior walls to the floor tiles, everything has been done to perfection and the most important nuance is the lighting on the ceiling of the atrium – that is formed as the letters G.V.K.


The anchors include Shoppers Stop, INOX Cinemas and the city’s first Hard Rock Café (there was one within the International Departures of the swanky Hyderabad Airport that is managed by the rival GMR Group, but that was shut down some time ago due to low patronage). There are several other vanilla stores in Retail and F&B which include Calvin Klein, Benetton, Esprit, Bossini, Pepe, Mango, a local Jeweler, Café Coffee Day, Juice Booster, etc. The biggest attraction is a wonderful aquarium that is placed in the main atrium on the Upper Ground which attracts a number of curious visitors – young in age and by heart, and there is a customary photo that is taken alongside (something that we Indians love, irrespective of where we are – at places of worship to shopping centers!).


The mall has a lower ground floor which is on the level of the road as the road enters through the Banjara Hills and then an Upper Ground Floor as the road goes up. Interestingly, both floors have awesome visibility from outside and this helps the Mall developer to lease both floors at attractive rates. And for the Brands, needless to say gives good visibility. This is increasingly seen in India across various Malls of late. Soon, this would become more a fashion, than a natural gradient of the road – hope it is not another scam like the CAM in some cases…


Shoppers Stop is spread over 60,000 sft across two floors from the ground – this is the third outlet for the business in Hyderabad city based on encouraging trends – the city’s shoppers are quite trendy and fashion conscious and contrary to the rather shy image that they carry, people actually shop for colorful stuff – from apparel to accessories, furniture to cars. Incidentally, over 60% of those who shop at Shoppers Stop are members of the privilege program “First Citizen”, the largest retail loyalty program in the country. This could be a big driver of footfalls into this mall, time will prove though. Hard Rock Café, the cult pub and restaurant is located on the Upper Ground, but with a direct access – that means, you don’t have to get into the Mall to enter the place, quite common world over. INOX, spread over 40,000 sft with six screens, is tucked away on the top floors – a straight forward approach on the elevator on any floor would take you to the cinema. There is a large food court serving local as well as national and international delicacies and seems to picking pace among shoppers and visitors.


What I am surprised though is the circulation – very plain and simple. Each floor plate is not more than 40,000 sft and starts and ends in the same place. As one enters, you could walk on the left side or right and just keep walking. Every 5 meters, there is an entry to a shop and every 50 meters there is a breaking point. For all the brouhaha that was created, the layout seemed too simple. I am not a believer in complicated walkthroughs within the mall, but this one is just too simple. Also, adjacency planning between the brands could have been better. There is almost no logic to my mind why certain brands are placed next to each other. In Mall Management, one of the most important focus areas is to place the brands correctly, as much as possible. There has to be a value-addition from every placement – the most popular ones in the corners and the just-popular ones on the way, so shoppers walk as much as possible and are invited into the smaller ones. In India, the trend is reverse – the most popular ones, especially apparel and sports brands want to occupy the entry points! All said and done, what I liked best was the placement of our café – yes, Café Coffee Day is located right at the entrance with an independent access. This is the second café within a 2 sq. km radius in Hyd. (compared to many such in other cities like Bangalore, Mumbai & Delhi).


Overall, I believe it is a good package for the retail-starved Hyderabad – beyond the stand alone Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle stores and Hyderabad Central in Begumpet, there is pretty much nothing for shoppers in the centre of the city. InOrbit at Cyberabad is yet to gain steam, until which am sure GVK One will attract more onlookers and some serious shoppers. Good luck to the team that’s running the show.

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