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Realty companies join the run of luxury malls

Real estate players are tired of being mall rats. So, it's luxury malls that are now hogging the limelight. After DLF and UB Group's foray into the luxury retail segment, other players such as Parsvnath, Ansal API and MBD Group are firming up plans for niche luxury malls in metro cities.

Besides housing top-of-the-line luxury brands such as Armani, Mont Blanc, Gucci, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuitton, the malls will also have features such as amphitheatres, opera shows, in-shop dining and rooftop helipads to attract the uber-rich.

Real estate major Parsvnath Developers plans to build luxury malls in the top metro cities. Parsvnath chairman Pradeep Jain confirmed the development to ET. "We will announce plans this financial year and are looking only at metros. There is a pressing need for luxury malls in capital cities and their demand is huge.

Moreover, luxury retailers are also keen to enter India through a tie-up. The timing is just right for luxury malls in India." Agrees Kunal Banerji, president, marketing, Ansal API, "We do have luxury malls on our agenda. With the burgeoning economy, it is quite clear that such niche malls do have a strong market in India. We have already announced a project in Greater Noida and eventually we will look at markets like Mumbai and Delhi as well."

Earlier, five-star hotels were home to luxury brands, both hospitality and luxury brands are now moving to mall. MBD Group is coming up with a luxury mall, Zephyr, which will also have a Protected content luxury hotel in Bangalore. Some of the key features of the mall will be wine cellars, art auctions, fashion previews, opera, in-shop dining (a la in-room dining concept of five-star hotels) and outdoor theatre. The mall will be operational by the end of Protected content .

The group is also looking at developing luxury malls in Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. "The long-term success of luxury malls will depend on the kind of pre and post-shopping experience that they provide and not just on luxury brands that they house," says Sonica Malhotra, executive director, MBD Group. The mall will have luxury automobile players such as Porsche, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini.

According to industry estimates, for a standard mall, the cost of construction is around Rs 2,200 and that of interiors is Rs 1, Protected content square foot. On the other hand, for a luxury mall the cost of construction is Rs 2,800 per square foot and that of interiors Rs 3,500 per sq ft, almost double of a standard mall.

India's largest real estate developer DLF, which rolled out its plans of luxury mall, Emporio, almost two-and-a-half years back, is bullish about the luxury retail market in India. "Luxury brands have good potential in India. The product has to be one that offers a mix reflective of class, economic status and ambience.

We will be looking at metros and super metros in the near future to build more such luxury one-stop destinations with the best names in the market," asserts Rajeev Talwar, group executive director, DLF. UB Group's luxury mall, The Collection, located in UB city in Bangalore, is scheduled to start operations this year. It will house brands such as Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Canali, Rolex, Omega, Dunhill, Mont Blanc, Zegna, Gucci and Kimaya.

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