mid-day 38th anniversary: How the Ashok Piramal Group decided to bring to India its first mall

Crossroads, now Brand Factory, at Tardeo
Crossroads, now Brand Factory, at Tardeo

If you were a '90s kid, to whom a mall was a place where cool American teenagers went to "hang" or "catch a movie" (thanks to Archies comics and Beverly Hills 90210), then Crossroads at Tardeo would have held a special place in your heart.

Eighteen years ago, the Ashok Piramal group changed the way we looked at shopping and entertainment by launching the country's first-ever mall. "When we conceptualised Crossroads, retailing was an unorganised sector, comprising only single product retail outlets. The concept of shopping, entertainment and dining under one roof was unheard of," says Vice President – Sales & Marketing, Peninsula Land Ltd., Anil Dwivedi. The group was aware of the steady increase in purchasing power of the upper middle class and the affluent segment. "We kept a tab on the changing needs of the consumer which led us to believe that good quality retail space of international standards showcasing global brands would be welcomed in South Mumbai," he says.

Being the first mover meant there was no precedent in the market. "We had to trust our instinct and understanding of retail, real estate and customer preferences. On the construction front, the challenge lay in refurbishing and converting existing structures," he explains, adding that the three existing buildings were then refurbished with the services of international architects and consultants. Apart from launching several international brands in the mall, they also introduced the concept of a food court within a shopping space. "The idea was to ensure that buyers spent as much time as possible on the premises."

While Tardeo, back then, wasn't the swanky neighbourhood it is now, with the tallest residential twin towers, the reason for opting for this location was its "aura". "I felt that this location could draw people in droves. It was an up and coming location back then and was also a commercial hub."

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