The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bouyant note in mall meet

Calcutta is only seeing the tip of the iceberg at the moment and government cooperation can lead to a plethora of retail malls coming up in the city in the next few years, according to most of the top players in the sector. The country’s leading retailers, who gathered to exchange ideas at the two-day CII summit on retail in the city that ended on Thursday, left on a buoyant note.

“I believe there will be a lot more malls in Calcutta soon, as the cycle has just started. We are coming to Calcutta in a big way in two of the city’s largest mall developments. I am sure others will follow suit if the state government addresses the three vexatious issues of property tax, stamp duty and infrastructure promptly,” said Ravi C. Raheja, supremo of Shoppers’ Stop Limited and real estate major K. Raheja Corp.

The need for a concerted government initiative to boost real estate and organised retail was stressed by Surajit Roy, commercial director of Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Roy made his presentation on the Janak Place mall development experiment in “unfashionable” West Delhi during the concluding technical session of the meet — ‘Real estate for retail industry’.

“We made a success out of a liability, knocking on the doors of all major retailers, without any ego issues. Initially, we found it virtually impossible to sell anything outside South Delhi, but eventually, the message went through and we have also kept our post-disposal commitments, which all state authorities should ensure to inspire confidence among retailers,” Roy told the audience. DDA is now developing a 10-lakh-sq-ft mall in Saket to house the cream of the country’s retail.

Earlier, on Wednesday, KSA Technopak managing director Arvind Singhal, giving an overview of the retail sector in the country, advised players to “anticipate global competition and device India-specific formats” to carry their business forward. The total consumer spend in the country was Rs 12,50,000 crore in 2000-01 and is projected to grow to Rs 18,00,000 crore by 2005-06, according to Singhal. “West Bengal is now poised to account for a sizeable chunk of this pie,” he said.

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