Starstruck: Mall Owners Relocate others for Starbucks

Brands that are being shunted to less attractive locations to accommodate the coffee chain are not amused

A joke doing the rounds on Twitter these days is that the wait outside Mumbai’s first Starbucks coffee outlet at Horniman Circle is so long that a smart alec has started selling tea to those standing in the queue.

Starbucks Coffee Logo

Starbucks Coffee Logo

This kind of consumer frenzy is music to the ear of mall owners in India’s big cities. Sensing a huge opportunity, many of them are offering the American coffee chain preferred locations within their malls, sometimes even at the cost of relocating a brand that is already present at the location.

It’s not as if the mall owners are expecting premium charges. They just want Starbucks as an anchor tenant as such iconic brands can bring home the much desired footfalls; and also inspire other quality labels to set up shop in their malls.

Starbucks had said that it plans to open 50 stores by the end of the year in Delhi and Mumbai. That plan may or may not materialise, but the coffee retailer surely is on the fast track to sign up new spaces. “For some international iconic brands, mall developers will be willing to bend backwards as they can improve the tenant mix,” says Jaideep Wahi, director, retail agency at Cushman & Wakefield India, a property advisory firm that helps companies such as Starbucks find store space.

The Ambience group has signed up Starbucks for two of its malls in Gurgaon and Vasant Kunj in the capital. At the Gurgaon mall, a brand that was on the ground floor is being relocated to another part of the mall to accommodate the coffee house.

“I am relocating a brand for Starbucks as we wanted to give them an indoor-outdoor combination,” says Deepti Goel, head of leasing at Ambience. Starbucks is negotiating for space at another mall in south Delhi. Arjun Sharma, the director of Select Citywalk mall in Saket says he would love to move brands around for the iconic brand. “It’s a relevant brand. It’s a great brand. We always seek marquee brands to improve our tenant mix,” he said.

Another developer in Mumbai, requesting anonymity, said he was even willing to compensate an existing store operator if he vacates his current location.
A Tata Starbucks spokesperson declined to comment on queries sent by ET.

The enthusiasm to put up Starbucks has caused heartburn among a few brands that have been asked to relocate. “We were asked to move to a less-attractive location within the mall, even though the mall owner agreed to give us favourable terms. But it still can’t make up for losing a premium location,” says a manager with an apparel brand, who did not wish to be identified for risk of antagonising the mall owner.

Future Group to build wholesale markets

Agre Developers, a Future Group company, formerly known as Future Mall Management, has struck a deal with Bangalore-based developer the Sattva Group to build a wholesale trading market on the lines of Dubai’s Dragon Mart and China’s Yiwu wholesale market. This is the first of the eight businessto-business (B2B) markets that the company is planning to start across major cities in the course of the next few years. These trading hubs will stock general merchandise, IT peripherals, hardware products along with other commodities typically spread across a 5-10 acre space. The BSE listed-company will also be getting into the infra-logistics and retail infrastructure business. 

Kishore Biyani had merged his real-estate business with Kolkata-based developer Sumit Dabriwala into Agre Developers to strengthen the retail major’s foothold in the realty space. The retail to financial services group runs stores like Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar.
Sumit Dabriwala, MD, Agre Developers, told TOI, that the strategy for the company going forward will be to tie-up with strategic partners to facilitate the opening of these tradings hubs and also to build infra-logistics across the country. Agre Developers will work in tandem with Future Supply Chain, the logistics and supply chain vertical of the group, on the infra-logistics business.
“Even as the demand of logistics in the country expands, supply of good quality logistics infrastructure is extremely low. This is where we will work with Future Supply Chain and also with other logistics companies,” Dabriwala said.
The company will look to plough about Rs 500 crore of equity across the three formats and is evaluating the possibility of inviting strategic partners into each of these businesses. The total outlay on the three business verticals will be around Rs.3500 crore over the next five years, said Dabriwala.
“While the wholesale trading and the infra-logistics business will be in partnership with another entity, the retail infrastructure vertical of the company will be operated independently.
“On the retail infrastructure side, the mandate is to play a bigger role which will start right from spotting the location of the mall to designing the mall, determining the tenant mix, sub-leasing the mall and managing it over the life cycle of the transaction,” Dabriwala pointed out.
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