AHMEDABAD: Till a few years ago, Ahmedabad and Pune were considered to be ‘graveyards’ for malls in the country. But circumstances may change, says the state’s urban development department. Gujarat plans to resurrect retail businesses with its own Retail Trade Policy. The industries and mines department is co-ordinating with nine departments and trade bodies to formulate the policy.
The focus of the proposed policy will be to carve out ‘Retail and Entertainment Zones’ within Gujarat’s cities and towns, ensure conducive tax environment for retail businesses (single and multi-brand), relax laws relating to labour, and frame parking and building bye-laws to help set up large retail enterprises. The policy has also proposed the setting up of a regulatory framework for this sector.
The policy has even considered listing food and grocery businesses under “essential services” to protect them from closures during bandhs. It will be fourth state in India after Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra to formulate such a policy. Some of the suggestions included in the policy document are: provision to allow retail enterprises to remain open for 365 days, functioning between 5am and 11pm; and allowing them to remain open between 11pm and 5am for logistics and supply purposes.
To enhance the viability for retail centres, the policy plans to provide up to 50% additional FSI for development of retail and shopping centres over the base FSI.
“Many malls failed to take off in Ahmedabad and other cities as they failed to follow a retail grammar,” says a senior urban development department official. “Traditionally, builders sold shops in malls, without caring much for establishment maintenance. The footfalls plummeted massively.” He went on to say: “On the flip side, builder-owned malls like Alpha and Gulmohar in Ahmedabad and Inorbit in Vadodara thrive as they have leased out shops to a variety of retailers.” This way customers have access to a variety of shops selling different products, he said. Shops unable to do brisk business are politely asked to wind up and leave, he said. “The mall maintenance is the builders’ headache in such cases,” the official said.
The proposed retail policy has also mooted the plan to let women employees work up to 10pm, with safety measures in place. The policy’s draft promotes relaxation of labour laws under the Shops and Establishments Act with regard to working hours, work shifts, employment of part-time workers, and the maintenance of records.
Credits ET Realty