As the country gears up to deal with a mall explosion over the next few years, existing mall owners are already looking for key differentiating factors where they can leverage their strengths. Not surprisingly, food has emerged as one of the key focus areas.
Yogesh Samat, chief executive officer, Inorbit Malls, says the food court at the mall is being extended to roughly 75,000-80,000 sq foot. "We are looking at offering a different experience at our malls, and food is an important part of it," Samat points out.
It is estimated that about a third of the people visiting malls spend only at the foodcourt. Thus it makes sense paying more attention to this part of the business.
The Delhi-based MBD group's Neopolis too is working at ensuring that the food court at the malls they are planning goes beyond the standard format seen these days.
"The foodcourts will have a 5-star coffee shop kind of an ambience. Moreover, it will have a experience and ambience different from the rest of the mall," says Sonica Malhotra, executive director, MBD group.
The group is also planning to set up a chain of independent foodcourts under the name 'Gigabyte' in Mumbai and Bangalore, which will dish out a variety of cuisines. It will be set up in a 30,000 sq foot area.
Inorbit, meanwhile, is looking at introducing lounge chairs in the new extension area to move away from the cafeteria format.
"We already offer a number of exclusive dining options like Nando's and Thai Lotus which also have outlets elsewhere," says Samat. "Our foodcourt also has the largest retail mix in terms of brands."He adds that the company would continue to focus on the foodcourts in the upcoming properties as well. Inorbit plans on opening another 7-8 malls over the next few years. The mall already offers free Wi-fi connectivity, which again works in increasing customer loyalty.