Kolkata, Aug 6 (CalcuttaTube/IBNS): Forum Projects, a Kolkata-based developer, unveiled on Friday an upmarket shopping destination – Forum Courtyard – as an extension to the existing Forum shopping mall.
Courtyard adds 3 storeys or over 40,000 square feet of shopping space that stars high end international brands like Mango, Aldo, Promod, Boggi, Alcott, Inglot and more, to the city’s first mall that opened in 2003.
Forum Projects Managing Director Rahul Saraf said, “Back then, organised retail was very nascent. Panatloons was a two-store establishment at most in 2003. Things have changed today.”
He said the Forum mall was a bit of a vengeance project.
“One of the prime topics of discussion between me and my friends used to be is Kolkata a dying city or dead city? Apparently because we had no malls,” said Saraf.
“So we came up with the city’s first shopping mall. We had to convince a lot of people and brands that yes, there was market in Kolkata and people are looking for place to hang out, shop and eat,” he said.
He further said, “As we were the first in the city to dive into this, there were a lot of things that we didn’t realise back then. Forum, we later realised, had a humongous shortage of car parking.”
The new multi-level parking facility has 6 levels of parking space bringing the total parking capacity of the mall to over 450 cars he said.
“We feel there is a need to rejuvenate and reposition the retail business in the city, and Courtyard caters to that need,” he said.
“I don’t like to go to malls on weekends. It’s like a fair. Loudspeakers blaring and everything. I think there are people who don’t enjoy such an experience. Courtyard is for them,” Saraf said.
“People’s lifestyles and affordability has gone up. They don’t go to malls for better looking tiles, granites and glass. They need better brands and premium services,” he adds.
Forum has also invested heavily in making the mall hi-tech by introducing state of the art software solutions for consumer data collection.
“The moment a customer enters the mall, we can track him. We can see which stores he goes to, how much he spends. Everything. This data is shared with our store owners. It helps us improve,” informs Saraf.
With Courtyard, the company is also stepping into a new domain, that of its own retail division and taking up franchises of brands like Puma and Tie Rack.
“Also, we are introducing Trezo. It’s a concept store run by us in which designers can rent racks for 3 months or more. It means they don’t have to manage the retail and we don’t have to make the clothes,” asserted Saraf.
He says the company is taking the retail division quite seriously and hopes to occupy 10 to 15 percent of floor space in the upcoming malls they open.
The group has also laid out ambitious plans for eastern India with over 3.7 million square feet of retail space under construction that includes malls in Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Bhubaneswar and Howrah.
To make its presence felt, the group is laying emphasis on Industrial and Tier 3 towns with 2 million square feet of mixed-use development by 2012 and 3.5 million thereafter.
“On a different note, we are also coming up with Kolkata’s first million-square-feet-mall along the E M Bypass, called the PC Chandra. It’s a close 800-crore Rupees investment,” he said.
“And then there is Atmosphere, a luxury condominium along the Bypass again. I can tell we might have projects where we have invested way more, but this is going to be the big one,” he announced.