Slowdown effect: stores pull out of high-end malls

Reeling under high rents and with the economic slowdown turning shoppers conservative,many of the stores that had opened less than a year ago at Delhi’s newest malls — Select Citywalk and MGF Mall — are now shutting down.

Written by Leher Kala | New Delhi | Published: February 11, 2009 1:14:51 am

Reeling under high rents and with the economic slowdown turning shoppers conservative,many of the stores that had opened less than a year ago at Delhi’s newest malls — Select Citywalk and MGF Mall — are now shutting down.

In Select Citywalk,French lingerie brand Etam,Plus IT that stocks shoes and Pratap,a designer clothing brand,have closed their stores in the last month. Fcuk,another international clothing brand,is on the verge of downing shutters.

Plus IT,opened by the Delhi-based CTC Group,stocked Cavalli shoes in the range of Rs 10,000 to 40,000 a pair. It held a sale before closing down. Etam,a joint venture with the Future Group that entered India in May 2007 with aggressive plans of opening 40 stores across India,has completely pulled out of India.

“It’s a good mall but better for mass brands rather than our product,” says designer Rajesh Pratap. “Of course,the recession has a lot to do with low sales,” he adds.

Owners of stores on the second floor of Select City,dedicated to children,say they are the worst hit,with the least number of footfalls and walk-ins. “I had expected a better response,” says Namrata Dutt of 2feet located right next to the escalator. Dutt currently pays Rs 1 lakh per month for a 300 square feet space. She recently shut another outlet in Khan Market but continues with her store in the Santushti Shopping Complex.

The management of the mall,however,refutes the complaints of fewer footfalls. “We have 45,000 people walking in here every day. On Christmas,there were 1 lakh people,” says Harpreet Suri,the public relations officer of the mall. “Despite recession,we have many brands who continue to want space here,” he adds.

In a move to boost the confidence of the owners of the shops,the mall is working on a revenue-sharing model with them and marketing strategies like the flea market held every Wednesday.

The situation at the mall next door,MGF,appears grimmer. While restaurants Manre and Ai have renegotiated rents with the management to continue operations,designers Ashish Soni,Vikram Phadnis,Swapan & Seema and a home accessories store,Moonriver,are already shut. The remaining ones,too,are weighing their options. “We will wait till April. If sales don’t pick up by then,we will have to think hard because summer is dead for our business,” says Nainika Karan,of Gauri & Nainika.

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