ASIAN WALL STREET JOURNAL
HONGKONG, 6 AUGUST, 2001
Developers seek tenants for shopping malls
New Delhi 6 August
The swami in the shopping mall says you can find spirituality anywhere – even down the hall from a department store. This swami, Chaitanya Keerti, is a disciple of Osho, or “The Blessed One, on whom the Sky Showers Flowers.” Osho, who died 1990, once was known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the Rolls-Royce-collecting guru deported from the US for immigration fraud in 1985. His followers have other shops in their commune, but this is the first shop in a mall. Osho World in Delhi’s Ansal Plaza exists mostly to peddle what the swami says are 9000 hours of Osho lectures transcribed into 650 books.
Even though the country has more than one billion people and only three malls, there aren’t enough mall-type stores to go around – large chains such as department store Marks & Spencers or the Tommy Hilfger Clothes shops that bring people into malls everywhere else. The country has lots of stores – 12 million. But they are almost all mom-and-pop operations, the short of shops people can find easily in their own neighborhoods without a trek to the mall, because India is one of the world’s poorest nations – with an unusual blend of socialism and spirituality that discourages materialism – it has produced few nationwide retailers. And since the world’s second largest nation closed itself to most foreign investments for 40 years, there are no global chains such as US discount merchandiser Wai-Mart Stores Inc. which would be an upmarket, fashionable retailers in India, where an income of $ 1300 a year qualifies a family as middle class. The absence of global retailers makes India unique among the world’s largest nations. So Indian developers must scramble to find tenants for the 20 or more malls likely to appear in the next two years. They are part of an explosion in the $180 billion retailing business as the countries 200-million-strong middle class grows and prospers.
I don’t even have enough retailers to cater solely to the upper class or the middle class,” says Rajesh Jaggi, vice-president of development at the 30-store Crossroads mall in Mumbai. This means the mall has a fuzzy image in the absence of a specific target group. Two of five spaces in the mall’s tiny food court are empty, abandoned by a shop called ‘Alladin’ and a Mexican food stand named Kurry Krunch. If a mall has too many of the same types of stores, or stores that shoppers can find anywhere, it becomes hard to get them
to spend a lot of money there.—Dow Jones