G. Ravikiran

While Big Bazar has already leased out an open site and started constructing a building on Bandar road, Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle are busy looking for suitable lands along Ring roadSince film viewing is a hobby for many in the region, mall owners are planning to add an element of multiplexes

VIJAYAWADA: From Shoppers Stop to Big Bazar, every big name among shopping malls is now eyeing Vijayawada as one of the most potential places for their future business expansions. Given the vast mass of floating population that this coastal city attracts every day, the retail giants are eager to arrive sooner than later.

While Big Bazar has already leased out an open site and started constructing a building on Bandar road, Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle are busy looking for suitable lands along Ring road. The buzz in business circles is that the mega shopping malls will give a new thrust to improve the overall profile of Vijayawada as a modern city. Traditionally called a trade and automobile hub, the city can hope to have another colourful phrase - a shopping hub.

Growing image

L. Rajasekhar, director of Lingamaneni Real Estates, says that the malls are mainly attracted to the city's growing image as a shopping destination for people coming from as far as Rajahmundry and Ongole. "Malls have conducted several surveys. They have discovered that the city has got 35 to 40 lakh floating population every month," he points out.

Lingamaneni Real Estates is currently holding talks with both Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle to lease out a vacant site located near Maris Stella College. A deal is going to be struck soon and it may take less than two years for either of the retail chains to commence business here.

Each of these malls will occupy over 1 lakh square ft of area, offering a whole range of brands and products in apparel, western outfits, designer wear, perfumes and accessories. Once the big names in retailing arrive, it will be a world of choice for the choosy consumer here.

Shoppers Stop has begun making business enquiries to identify a good place for setting up a hypermarket somewhere along the bypass road between Vijayawada and Guntur on National Highway - 5. This stretch has become an attractive proposition considering the fact that it is easily accessible to people from Guntur, Tenali and Vijayawada.

A hypermarket features mainly wholesale business of vegetables, chicken and other edible products at lesser price, targeting middle class and lower middle class populations.

Rahejas and Reliance have also made enquiries for setting up one-stop destinations for shoppers, entertainment seekers and highly-paid employees. Vijayawada is being considered a potential home for high-end consumers in future, given the talk about arrival of IT companies. A study says that 20 per cent of high-end customers visiting Hyderabad Lifestyle mall are from coastal districts.

Mr. Rajasekhar says that the contribution to the city's growth is quite huge from non-resident Indians (NRIs). About 40 per cent of NRIs from the State hail from Krishna and Guntur districts alone. As it is, a good number of these NRIs come to Vijayawada for shopping when they are visiting their native places.

Since film viewing is a hobby for many in the coastal region, the mall owners are planning to add an element of multiplexes by constructing mini theatres with about 200 seats.