How Will the Mall Business Be in A Post COVID-19 World?

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April 21, 2020: Retailers Association of India (RAI) hosted a Webinar titled ‘Malls in a Post COVID-19 Scenario: From Recovery to Revival’ on 21 April, as a part of its ongoing ‘Coping with COVID-19’ series. The panel comprised thought leaders from the mall and retail industries including Alok Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, Inox Leisure Ltd; Ashwin Puri, Co-Founder & CEO, Lake Shore India; Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls, a Blackstone company; Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants; Vishak Kumar, CEO, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle (MF&L), Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. (ABFRL). The panel was moderated by Anuj Kejriwal, MD & CEO, Anarock Retail Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

Anuj Kejriwal, MD & CEO, Anarock Retail Advisors opened the discussion with his remark, “The situation at hand needs a true partnership approach, hence, it is important that we are reasonable with our partners, collaborate across the supply chain, and involve our business models to face the time ahead. Today, we have an unknown devil amongst us but it is very important that we are prepared for what’s known to us.”

Alok Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, Inox Leisure Ltd. said, “We will have to live with this thing but I don’t think we will have to change the way we think dramatically. On opening, we will have to ensure that the intervals are staggered and that no two intervals coincide so that people don’t crowd in the lobbies. We will have to ensure that the food that is served is done by certified COVID-19 free employees and that the cutlery is absolutely hygienic.”

Co-Founder & CEO of Lake Shore India Ashwin Puri explained what businesses must keep in mind going forward, keeping the experience as a central theme, “If you’re building a commodity based business, then it’ll be consumed online. For you to win consumers now, you will have to focus on experience particularly for projects that are under development right now.”

“There’s a Chinese proverb that says when the winds of change blow, some people build walls, some build windmills. Over the last few weeks, we’ve built walls that have protected our partners, our employees and our assets. Now it’s time to think about how we can build windmills”, stated Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls, a Blackstone company.

Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants, a hospitality stalwart, said in a hopeful manner, “The entire retail ecosystem needs to survive another year. We need to try and preserve the value we have created. Try and let people gradually come back to us and achieve normalcy. The entire retail environment must come together and create true partnerships.”

“There is a new normal that will be created. There will be a different cost structure. It will take some time for demand to pick up and that will be the time that various brands can work on to demonstrate wellness, which could give a new kind of retail therapy to consumers,” quoted Vishak Kumar, CEO, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle (MF&L), Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. (ABFRL)