“India is nowhere near recession,” said Home Minister P Chidambaram just last month, but going by the rate at which big branded stores are shutting shops in malls across Delhi, a different picture seems to emerge.
Sample this: While Guess, Kipling and Portland have closed down in Westgate Mall, stores like Dockers, Colour Plus, Latin Quarters, Entra, Derhy, Om Book Store, Moon River and even big designers like Ashish Soni and Vikram Phadnis have shut shop in MGF Metropolitan mall (Saket).
Grapevine has it that VNC, Bossini, Next, Calvin Klien Jeans and Springfields are next. Malls are not the only sufferers — American design label Ed Hardy, which opened its first store in Connaught Place in March 2008, has already shut down.
Storeowners claimed high rentals in the malls was the culprits.
Dhruv Bogra, business head retail, VF Arvind Brands (which manages Kipling), said, “We were incurring loss at our store in Westgate Mall, which we chose to close down. This does not impact our long-term plans for Kipling in India. We are willing to exercise flexibility wherever the landlord of the property is willing to align rentals to the new market reality.”
Another storeowner at the Great India Place, Noida, said on condition of anonymity, “The mall owners have such rigid rules that it is impossible to market your product. If we pay around Rs 2-5 lakh as rental and don’t make profit, then its better to leave.”
Designer Leena Singh of Ashima Leena, whose store Alias in MGF Metropolitan mall is empty with only mannequins said, “I am pondering over whether to stay or stop operations. The store did well initially, but the footfall is decreasing and we see no future of this mall in years to come.”
Amit Bhatia, the owner of Archies in MGF Metropolitan Mall, is upset with the management of the mall. He said, “The management here is so difficult. They have no marketing skills to promote the mall or stores.”
Mall managers of Great India Place, MGF Metropolitan and Westgate Mall, however, said the shut downs were stray instances. Refusing to be quoted, they confirmed the closure of stores like Guess but attributed it to renovation, etc.