The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The address: Camac Street or Elgin Road
The arsenal: Something for everyone – shopping and showbiz, food and fashion
The goal: Footfall
The competition: Cut-throat

Here’s a view of the retail battlegrounds in the heart of the city. Which side are you on'

Camac Street (Abanindranath Tagore Sarani)

It was historically one of the lowest-priced areas of the city, with extended bustees and a large coolie population. Till the Park Street razzmatazz started to spill over and the Birlas built Industry House. For the past few years, new-age destinations have gone into overdrive and 22 Camac Street (left) — with a Sunday footfall of 10,000-plus — defines this stretch.


Pantaloons: The 56,000-sq ft second city outlet of Kishore Biyani’s family store chain has rewritten shopping rules in town. With garments, sundry other items and even provisions at the Food Bazaar, it records a 20 per cent compounded sales growth every year.

Westside: Quiet and classy, the Tata store has its own loyal band of rack raiders.

Vardaan: This is a perennial favourite for unbranded shopping, from ethnicwear to shoes, cosmetics to phuchkas.

Exclusive Lines: The designer watch boutique has recorded over 300 per cent growth in business since its launch in 1999. “Camac Street is a serious shopping destination and we have conversions upwards of 90 per cent,” declares proprietor Manish Dalmiya.

Cams Corner & Tanishq: Among the earliest retail players, the electronic goods showroom and the designer watches-cum-jewellery stop next door, are hugely popular.

Don’t forget: Style Spa, Beautility, Toys Kemp, Bata, Nokia Priority, Lee Cooper, Computer Exchange, Bancafe...


Grain of Salt: The 25,000-sq ft fusion-food fine-dining complex, one of the biggest world cuisine stops in the country located on the fifth level of 22 Camac Street, has achieved an annual growth of 15 per cent since it opened in 2001, with celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor at the helm.

Pizza Hut: Spread across 5,450 sq ft and seating over 150 diners, the global fast-food major’s first foray into Calcutta (at 22 Camac Street) has given the city pan pizzas to chew on.

Malgudi Junction: Besides the regular dose of dosa, idly and vadas, dig into the spicy Bisibille rice or the Blast Dosa. Thalis ranging from Rs 45 to Rs 75 are fast movers.

Coffee Pai: The cosy coffee shop with pricing to suit your pocket and mine. Recommended: Parathas, chilli cheese toast, grilled sandwich and Mud-Pie.

Don’t forget: Bombay Shiv Sagar, Café Bollywood, Seventh Heaven...


Shisha: The city’s sole hookah bar is a preferred rendezvous for today’s hip and happening. The 15 different flavours of aromatic drags, the 21 varieties of imported Scotch, the Mediterranean theme and pulsating DJ beats make it an exotic night nest.


Camac Street gets ready to welcome Fort Knox -— a sparkling multi-level jewellery mall — with a 12,500-sq ft F&B outlet by Bunty Sethi and gang.


Buyout: Rs 5,000 to 6,000 per sq ft on an average, going up to Rs 10,000 for prime ground-floor space

Rentals: Rs 60-80 per sq ft per month, going up to Rs 100 for prime ground-floor space

Elgin Road (Lala Lajpat Rai Sarani)

It was always a highly prized, tranquil residential area and many Calcuttans probably got to know the name of the road the night Netaji escaped. Those who walked the quiet corridor, often referred to it as Elegant Road that housed eminent lawyers, doctors and the sahibs. Now, it’s all about snazzy decor, waxed and squeaky-clean floors, polite staff, cheerful displays, right merchandising and streamlined processes — to provide total consumer satisfaction and retention. Forum (right), the fulcrum, records weekly walk-ins in excess of 75,000.


Shoppers’ Stop: The four-level, 45,000-sq ft anchor inside the lifestyle mall Forum boasts around 300 brands under one roof, with a Habib’s and a Barista thrown in. Says B.S. Nagesh, managing director & CEO: “The Calcutta customer is aware and at the same time, emotional. Our in-store ambience, product-mix and level of service have been created to address both these facets.”


Crossword: The Rs 40-crore national bookstore chain has 16,000 sq ft of books, music, movies and gifts. Housing more than 70,000 books over two levels, the store has a sharp focus on kids with bright and cheerful interiors. “We provide a platform to the community to meet and share ideas, and listen to writers and thinkers,” says R. Sriram, CEO and managing director, Crossword Bookstores Ltd.

Sony World: Sanjay Goenka, who opened his 3,000-sq ft Sony showroom on Elgin Road in 1999, had foreseen the “immense retail potential” the wealthy residential catchments, easy access and educational institutions in the vicinity offered. “Our sales have spiralled 60 per cent, and with Park Street and Camac Street both getting increasingly congested, Elgin Road will see intensive growth, at least over the next five years,” feels Goenka.

C3 The Market Place: Calcutta’s “first big-format organised supermarket chain” hit town with the 6,100-sq ft outlet at Lee Residency, offering over 25,000 stock-keeping units under one roof. Open 15 hours a day, 365 days a year, with Kookie Jar and Balaram’s counters.

Don’t Forget: Archies, Little India, Gokul’s...


Oh! Calcutta: The 125-seater, 5,000-sq ft Anjan Chatterjee signature restaurant on the fourth level of Forum is “a celebration of Calcutta’s cuisine” bringing back on the table many lost dishes of the city. “Moving out of the Park Street-Camac Street zone and creating food destinations further south makes good business sense. The entertainment zone in the city is definitely shifting,” says Chatterjee.

Star Struck: The 3,350-sq ft, 68-seater multi-cuisine fine-dining restaurant in Forum feeds largely on the INOX crowd. “We are now doing around 300 covers on weekends, but footfalls will change to a steadier pattern once we open the lounge,” says proprietor Bunty Sethi.

Burp!: The 10,000 sq ft, 215-seater multi-cuisine food court at Forum has developed into a major draw for movie-goers and shoppers alike. The 14 outlets record a combined monthly footfall in excess of 60,000 and the pre-paid smart card is a huge hit.

Caffeine: This 1,700-sq ft 85-cover resto-café gets diverse walk-ins, from school and college students to quick-bite execs to after-dinner coffee freaks. “INOX and Forum drive a lot of traffic into our café and on weekends, we are doing around 200-220 covers,” says Rajdeep Ghoshal of Caffeine.

Don’t forget: Baskin Robbins, Amorettos...


INOX: Since Calcutta’s first four-screen multiplex with stadium seating for 1,015 unveiled itself at Forum, it has changed the way people watch movies in the city of Ray. The myriad mix of reclining seats with cup-holder armrests, Christie’s projectors and Harkness screens, Dolby Digital EX 3-way surround sound with JBL speakers, flexi-pricing and computerised ticketing has fired the imagination of the movie buff and engineered a paradigm shift in the entertainment industry. The impact is manifest in the average footfall -- 2,000-2,500 on weekdays and 3,500-4,000 on weekends. The Refuel sip ’n’ bite counter is also a huge hit.


Buyout: Rs 4,000 to 6,000 per sq ft on an average, going up to Rs 8,000 for prime ground-floor space

Rentals: Rs 60-80 per sq ft per month, going up to Rs 100 for prime ground-floor space

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