Lulu Group, the UAE based retail conglomerate has signed MoUs with the Tamil Nadu state government to set up a mall and hyper market in the State. During the recent visit of Mr. MK Stalin, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu State to the Gulf countries, the understanding was formalised in the presence of dignitaries. The move is expected to drive fresh employment to over 5,000 people in the Retail sector through direct employment in stores, restaurants and multiplex within the Mall.
The USD 8 bn LuLu Group first entered Kerala in 2013 with it’s flagship mall that also houses its Hypermarket which is popular in the Middle East, especially among the scores of Indians who work in the region. Followed by a huge success in the home state with two properties in Kochi and Thrissur, the group has recently opened its shopping centres at Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore. While the opening up of a centre in Tamil Nadu was obvious, both entities seem to have sought good PR mileage with the CM’s visit to Abu Dhabi. The company operates 230 stores & shopping centres in 22 countries worldwide with a retail footprint of over 1.60 mn sq ft and employs over 57,000 people according to its website. The Group is also setting malls in various parts of India, from UP to Gujarat.
Other than in Chennai, there are only two cities which have name worthy Malls in the state. The Brookfield Mall in Coimbatore, which is a little over a decade old remains the go-to place while the Prozone Mall remains far off, geographically and psychologically to the residents of the town. Satyam Cinemas (now owned by PVR) operates at the former while Inox cinemas operates at the latter. Madurai, on the other hand has a name-sake that is Vishal d’Mall. But the centre remains a neighbourhood centre at best with Inox drawing crowds all year through, except for the past 2 years. The shops are too small and the mix remains redundant to current times.
Chennai on the other had boasts of half a dozen big malls, while Whitefield area of Bangalore alone has 6 malls, ironically. While the Spencers Plaza in the erstwhile Madras was one of the first Malls to come up in India, the conservative nature of consumers in the city has not given enough confidence to domestic & international Mall developers to build mega structures in the state’s capital. India’s pride that is Prestige Developers, who’s malls are a runaway success in every location has perhaps one of the lowest performing centres in Chennai, which also came up a decade back. Express Avenue Mall which houses H&M, Hamleys, Marks & Spencer’s, Starbucks among others remains the city’s favourite due to its central location while Phoenix Market City in the suburban area is a hit among migrants who work in Chennai.
The Marina Mall which opened to much fanfare in early 2019 has failed to take off due to the ongoing pandemic, but is bound to rebound coming summer. The mall is located at the fag end of OMR which is the hotbed of the IT Industry and has an estimated population of over 10 lakh households within a 10 sq km radius. This is also the centre where Inox Insignia debuted. With films like RRR and the upcoming season flooded with movies, audience will be spoilt for choice to watch their favourite matinee idols on the big screen, with an enchanting experience.
LuLu Mall could come up with its centre in ECR or OMR for these are the only areas where large land parcels are available. The discerning population of consumers who wish to shop, dine and entertain also live alongside these areas, propelling future consumption. It would be interesting to note the footprint that LuLu spans in the next 2-3 years, assuming the construction and leasing would take as much time.