MAN MOHAN BAGREE ON SOUTH CITY MALL — THEN & NOW
“When South City Mall opened in 2008, it was a tough time getting big brands to Calcutta because they were not ready. Yet we successfully opened with brands like Marks & Spencer, Guess, Next, Accessorize, Planet Retail and Rocia.
Today, Calcutta is in sixth position for most brands (behind Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune). But now, a US apparel and footwear brand like Timberland has opened its second country outlet in Calcutta at South City. In the past too, major brands such as Marks & Spencer, Guess, Next and Aftershock, were brought to the city by South City Mall as their third or fourth country outlets.
I feel Calcutta is still not ready for a lot of brands in terms of shopping power and mindset. It’s not a forward city like Delhi where people change their wardrobe every 15 days. And the ‘party people’ of the city travel so often that they shop outside. So our brief to a new client is to stock their shop with trendy basics initially. For example, even the merchandise of Forever New, though it is party and evening-wear, is subtle as compared to its collection in Delhi or Mumbai.
How do we decide which brand to bring in? After understanding what retail requires. And retail requires aspiration. Unless a customer aspires, he won’t move. For example, a Bata customer, after a while, might like to upgrade to a Rocia or a Metro. So the right mix of brands is important for the customer to upgrade. Which is why a five-year-strong brand at the mall needs to be promoted but at the same time we have to get a new crowd into the mall with entry-level brands.
The brand that Calcutta is asking for now? Zara (fashion brand for men, women and children)! And, they’re eager to come here. We’ll have to wait and watch.”