more than two years,” said Bhatija. Inorbit Pune currently has an occupancy of 80%, although two anchor tenants and other tenants are still working on opening their stores after the mall caught fire in May this year.
As vacancies rise, some malls have been forced to shut shop. Pune's Jewel Square Mall — despite housing international brands like French Connection, Forever New and Mango — closed down late last year. The mall is now being renovated and being turned into a corporate space. The 125,000 square feet mall was located in Koregaon area of Pune, which is considered to be one of the most upmarket areas in Pune.
Given that brands like Mango, Promod and Guess have had to close some of their stores in city malls, some like Ishanya have also started utilising free space for hosting fairs and exhibitions. More could follow. Two recently constructed malls, Amanora and Seasons Mall, which opened opposite each other in the Magarpatta area of Pune over the past year, are doing badly with developers clearly having overestimated demand.
“They are situated in an area which has a low catchment and given consumption levels the space should have ideally been about 3,50,000 square feet,” said Pioneer Property's Sundaram.
Retail sector experts say that poor management by Pune's mall developers have left tenants, especially anchor tenants, reluctant to take up more space.
Ajit Joshi, chief executive officer, Inifiniti Retail, which runs the Croma chain of stores, said that some developers were clueless about the business. “We got requests to be anchor tenant, which we cannot be since we are a speciality store. We are now careful about where we set up stores,” explained Joshi. The company had to close two stores in the city's malls.