Theme malls for gold and electronic goods to come up in Chennai

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CROWDED BUT POPULAR: Ritche Street behind Anna Sala in Chennaii. Photo: K. Pichumani
CROWDED BUT POPULAR: Ritche Street behind Anna Sala in Chennaii. Photo: K. Pichumani

Sandhya Soman

High rentals prevent local business houses from setting up shop at the malls

CHENNAI: Chennai is all set to have two exclusive malls one for gold and another for electronic goods with the thrust on theme and specialisation.

The idea is to bring air-conditioned comfort to consumers, so Usman Road and Ritchie Street can heave a sigh of relief.

All that's gold is coming to Prasanth Real Gold Tower on North Usman Road.

Tipped to be the first gold mall, the towering 10-storey structure will house not just retailers and wholesalers but bullion traders as well.

Besides the comfort of the air-conditioned ambience, promoters say this specialised shopping centre will have all the `mall effects' from chic cafeterias to a convention centre.

According to the Marketing Manager of Real Value Promoters, P. Ashok, the place will open in the next couple of months.

On Anna Salai, another theme mall complete with Chinese-style overhanging roof with upturned eaves and a Chinese restaurant will open in mid July.

Says M. Mohamed Ismail, one of the promoters from the Shanaya Group, "VGP Digital China Square spread over 40,000 square feet will have at least 60 to 100 shops selling only electronic goods, their peripherals and electrical items."

The three-storeyed structure, a Rs.100-crore joint venture of VGP and Singapore-based Shanaya Groups, is being touted as an alternative to shopping for electronic goods at the "congested and crowded Ritchie Street."

As with the gold mall, the comparatively high rentals are preventing many of the local business houses from making a beeline to the China Square.

Says Mr. Ashok, "The rent is higher. But, our target is jewellers from outside, mostly Mumbai and Delhi, though we will have south Indian players with traditional jewellery. Even then, there are not many takers from Chennai."

As for the China Square, Mr. Ismail says nearly 10 locals have approached them for setting up shop. "We are also talking to a big player in electronic products that has presence in India and abroad," he adds. However, it is going to be difficult to wean away the loyal and informed customers of the scores of shops in Ritchie Street and Usman Road: such as software professional Abhinav. K, who is happy to browse for hours shops on the winding lanes of Ritchie Street.

"I will go to a mall only if there is a sufficient cost benefit," he says. A. Akthar Hussain of Challenger Computer says, "Clients who come to us know what they want.

They have everything on their fingertips rates, technology... Display does not matter," he says.

Malls will have takers only if there are parking facilities.

However, Mr. Ashok says he is confident about the success of the concept. "We will have floors dedicated to branded jewellery and dress jewellery as well as your traditional gold. Our target will be the increasing number of young professionals in the city with money, and who like lifestyle products... not the stuff bought by their parents."




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