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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI : Mumbai’s latest premium retail destination opens doors in Bandra Kurla Complex on Friday, with a first-of-its-kind rooftop drive-in theatre, 27 gourmet cuisine outlets, 72 top global and national brands, a spa and creche for pets, and a weekend open-air community market.

Designed by architects Ross Bonthorne and Andy Lampard and built over 10 acres, Jio World Drive marks Reliance Industries Ltd’s entry into the malls business.

The mall has a floating façade, and the mall space attempts to create a high-street ambience with skylights.

The interior design builds on the concept of merging the outdoors with indoors, and the premises are peppered with art installations and sculptures. The project is housed at Maker Maxity’s 17.5-acre space.

“With the opening of Jio World Drive, Bandra Kurla Complex is poised to be the new social centre of gravity in Mumbai. The precinct will set a new benchmark for curated experiences that one can expect from such retail avenues from across the globe, in the heart of Mumbai. Iconic offerings like the upcoming Jio Drive-in theatre will make this a must-visit destination," said Darshan Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Reliance Brands Ltd.

Reliance Brands Ltd was launched in 2007 to cater to the well-travelled and aspirational Indian consumers seeking premium foreign labels. Currently, it offers more than 30 international brands in luxury, bridge to luxury and high premium and high-street lifestyle segments such as Canali, Bally, Brooks Brothers and Bottega Veneta.

The mall will also house stores of several of Reliance Brands’ bridge-to-luxury brands such as Diesel, Replay, Hugo Boss, Emporio Armani and Paul Smith. Most of these brands will open their stores this month.

American furniture retailer West Elm, which has a franchise agreement with Reliance Brands, has a massive store at the mall.

Puneet Behal, senior vice-president at Reliance Brands, who oversees West Elm, said people are focusing on green zones to liven up home spaces.

There is a corner at the two-storied 9,000 sq. ft store with planters and succulents. It also has multifunctional furniture, such as a sofa-cum-bed or a coffee table with a pop-up work desk, targeting customers in a space-crunched city like Mumbai.

The country’s first rooftop drive-in cinema will have space for 290 cars and will be operated by PVR.

This will also mark the launch of PVR’s new cinema concept—Maison PVR—with six state-of-the-art multiplex theatres, a preview theatre and a separate entrance for VIP guests.

Another first at Jio World Drive will be FreshPik, Reliance’s new food and grocery concept store targeted at discerning urban customers.

The mall also has The Green Co-Op, a pet-friendly, open-air, pop-up weekend marketplace that will have new vendors every week.

This will allow indigenous artisanal brands to sell at the market as well as pop-up menus from home chefs and access to homegrown produce.

Harminder Sahni, founder of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors, said the new mall could well be the turning point in retail in India.

“It will be a lot like when DLF Emporio launched in Delhi in 2008; it changed the way the luxury goods were sold in India. And that was nearly 14 years ago. This mall is even bigger than that," said Sahni.

Bimal Sharma, head of retail at commercial real estate services company CBRE, said 2021 may see a change in the Indian retail segment as there is an increase in footfalls in malls and a shift in consumption patterns.

“Earlier, the customer was comfortable travelling to other countries to buy luxury goods. That has changed as health, and social distancing became a priority. A new development like this could help bridge that gap," he said.

“Customers’ expectations of a shopping experience at malls or individual stores have evolved. While brick-and-mortar retail will remain key going forward, store design and location strategy are likely to evolve in response to consumers’ changing expectations," he added.

Pratik Dalmia, who runs the Regalia Luxury, a luxury retail business and has brought some pricey watch brands into the country, said Mumbai most deserved this kind of retail venue.

“It is accessible from Mumbai international airport, which makes it very convenient. Besides, this may not affect the pre-existing Palladium and Phoenix malls as they cater to different sides of the city."

Jio World Drive said it follows international covid-19 guidelines and safety protocols and limits entry only to fully vaccinated customers who got their second shot 14 days earlier.

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