Ansal Plaza, Delhi’s first shopping mall, to get a makeover

  • Sohil Sehran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 01, 2016 12:27 IST
The mall, with its multi-brand outlets, food courts and air-conditioned, dust and noise-free environment, provided the perfect place for shoppers to come and relax. (S Burmaula/ Hindustan Times)

The management of Ansal Plaza is planning a grand re-launch of Delhi’s first mall in a hope to bring back shoppers to the centre that once used to buzz with activity.

“We have made an elaborate plan to re-launch it soon. A team is already working on it,” Monik Sharma, additional general manager of marketing and promotions at Ansal Plaza Mall Management Company Limited said.

The management had sent a letter to all incumbent outlet owners last year informing them about their plans of re-launching the mall. However, no deadline has been fixed yet.

Apart from infrastructural upgrade, the mall which in the heart of south Delhi is likely to get a swanky theatre to woo moviegoers too. The company is also mulling over tie-ups with agencies for branding for the purpose.

The mall, with its multi-brand outlets, food courts and air-conditioned, dust and noise-free environment, provided the perfect place for shoppers to come and relax. The corridors were always chock-a-block with people till 2007, so much so that at one point the management had to introduce an entry fee of Rs. 100 to deter non-serious shoppers.

Fast forward nine years and the large, swanky malls of Saket, Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar seem to have turned this once vibrant mall into a ghost town. Footfall has gone down drastically from thousands to a few hundred. Brands and outlets that had opened with the hope of luring consumers for some brisk business have either shut down altogether or shifted.

The handful of the proprietors that remain — people who owned outlets ranging from food stalls to liquor shops — said the mall slowly lost its charm because the management could not develop and promote the place as per the expectations of people.

The low footfall has not only hit business but it has also directly affected the maintenance of the mall’s fountains, lush green lawns and its major attraction ‘amphitheatre’— that can seat more than a 100 people and used to host musical evenings and a number of youth-oriented programmes every week.

During 2003, when the influx of visitors increased, the management started levying a charge of Rs 100 per person to ensure only serious shoppers entered. The entry fee was later adjusted against any product brought inside the mall. The entry fee now has become a tale of yesteryears.

“Today the footfall is so less that we barely get enough business to manage to pay our rents,” Arun Mehta, manager of jewellery showroom Sital Dass and Sons, said.

Mehta added that the food courts of the mall earlier used to be one of the prime reasons why shoppers were attracted towards it. But, slowly as other malls with cineplexes and food courts opened up, the crowd thinned and business went down.

Ansal Plaza has three blocks — A, B and C — that house as many as 90 small and big outlets. Some spaces inside the mall have been occupied for official purposes.

In August last year, a popular outlet, which was spread across an area of 39,000 square feet and housed multiple brands, closed its business in the mall. That outlet, surviving owners say, was one of their last hopes for them to get the ‘benefit of sale’.

“It is one of the finest buildings in Delhi where once can come have a good time with family and friends. Ansal Plaza needs to be revamped and re-launched again. That is the only way the crowds will start coming back here,” Babbu Bhasin, owner of Ozel Design, an outlet of luxury invitations, said.

Many visitors, like Baldev Singh, too felt that revamping the mall was the only way of restoring its lost glory.

“I have been coming here for the last four years. I have seen the number of shoppers going down steadily. HUDCO can revive the glory of this place by inviting people to perform at the amphitheatre and making an effort of maintaining the surroundings,” said Singh.

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