15 November, 2009

Central realigns the city...

India's largest retailer, The Future Group opened its 2nd Bangalore Central Mall recently at JP Nagar. Until a few years a quiet residential locality, JP Nagar is famous for its various attractions such as the Hanuman Temple and Woodys restaurant. The 60 feet road is abuzz with a host of retailers over the past few years with Viveks (Electronics Retail) being one of the earliest occupants followed by Big Bazaar and many other stand alone restaurants and eateries. While residents in and around JP Nagar and Jaya Nagar frequented these places, the offering was not strong enough to keep the crowds engaged for long. This is where Central has done a great deal.

CENTRAL opened its first mall in May 2004 - THE reason why I moved from Madras to Bangalore. It was the first of its kind in the country then - a seamless mall that had the usually famous brands - regional, domestic and international, all sharing floor and (virtual) wall space - this was infact the highlight of the Mall. There were no seams or walls between the brands and billing was unified across the floor. So, unlike in regular malls, there was no need to visit various brand stores and end up multiple billings. It was more than a Department store whereas not the convential mall in terms of total floor area. Right from Day One, it was a superhit. The second Mall opened in Hyderabad in Oct. 04 and the third at Pune in early 2005. As of today, there are eleven malls across eight cities.

The new Central Mall, spread over 200,000 sqft has a frontage of almost 200 feet - along the main road and is a corner property. While the entry to the mall is from the main road, the exit which curves a bit finally leads into the adjacent road. There is adequate parking space for atleast 150+ cars and a equal number of two-wheelers in the two leves of basement. The ivory colored vitrified marble makes the floor appear bigger and larger than it is and so does the main atrium that goes upto the fourth floor. The toilets are spacious and tucked away in good corners leading shoppers across the various aisles. There are many anchors and mini-anchors - PVR being the leisure anchor, McDonalds for Food, Cafe Coffee Day for beverages and the spacious foodcourt and restaurants (that are yet to open) for multi-cusine F&B. These are sure to bring in regular footfalls to the mall. The ground floor has Ladies and childrens's sections along with the usual perfumes and jewelry categories. The toys section is quite sizeable and is sure to attract chidren and those at heart. The first floor houses ethnic wear for men, women and home - yes, there is a very attractive homewear collection which already seems to be a super hit. The Men's formal wear is also nicely tucked on one side and the spread of brands is wide and fresh.

The second floor is focussed on the Youth - the teens and tweens as I famously refer; those in their teens and twenties - a very important segment for most brands today. Reliance TimeOut that offers books and music is a surprise! Cafe Coffee Day is located next to the Customer Service area - great thinking by the Mall planners to keep those waiting for various services such as alterations, membership, etc. E-Zone on the other side showcases latest offering of electronics and home-needs. The third floor houses Home Town, the division of the Future Group that specializes on furniture and home needs. There is also a Food Bazaar that completes the family shopping offerring a wide variety of Grocery and household products. The fourth and fifth floors would have PVR Cinemas while the sixth floor would have food courts and restaurants. This is the only confusing bit - and challenging to bypass shoppers into the F&B  areas as also to redirect those who have watched movies into the food-court.

The building opposite to the Mall is BIG Bazaar. I was wondering how would it be to connect both the buildings - probably with a skywalk that cuts across the road. While this surely sounds exciting, it is as much impossible due to corporation rules and regulations. The Mall in general looks like Takashimaya or Isetan in Singapore with its wide alleys, choices and selections. A refreshing look on designs and images is visible all acorss the Mall with images that nicely depict the mood and reasons to shop. With these and more on offer, this Central Mall is sure to realign the centre point of the city. Over a period of time, it is not just the residents of neighboring areas such as JP Nagar (various phases), parts of Jaya Nagar, Koramangala and even Bannerghatta Road who would visit this mall, but even those from far-off places. The Second Bangalore Central,  Mall as the name suggests, would surely become central for shopping in this part of the city.

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