Spanning across its journey of more than three decades, the Merlin Group is now well poised to push its boundaries. It has established a steady footing in the national market and is looking to expand internationally. It’s presence now spans across Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Pune, Chennai as well as Colombo. It started its retail journey in 2007 with the Homeland Mall in Kolkata. Standing out from other malls in Kolkata, the Homeland Mall showcases and focuses on a wide range of home making and home decorative products - housing more than150 retail outlets specialising in those items.
Speaking about their focus on the city of Pune for various upcoming residential as well as commercial projects, Saket Mohta, Managing Director, Merlin Group stated, “I view Pune as a market growing at an enormous pace. Pune is connected to Mumbai by roadways and to almost every metro city in India through air and these are the two major reasons why the city is growing at an enormous pace. Today, Pune is not just the city that hosts IT companies, educational institutions and the automotive industry, it has moved forward to becoming a hometown for almost 7 million people.”
The focus on Pune makes strong economic sense because the city has a vibrant young population who are in the right age bracket for buying properties. The late IT industry boom in Pune makes it an even more viable market for prominent real estate players like the Merlin Group. The group’s Navyangan township project in West Pune, combining the best of the both worlds and offering an expansive green cover is a true gateway to luxury living.
The group has also put a strong foot forward in the international market with projects in Singapore and Colombo. Talking about the Columbo project, Saket Mohta informed BE, “The project in Colombo was offered to us by one of our associates in Colombo. Firstly, the project is located close to the Presidential Bungalow which is a very hi-end area in Colombo, Sri Lanka. When we saw the land, we realised that we could make an iconic structure that will dominate the skyline and stand out. We grabbed the opportunity and decided to make one luxurious iconic structure. The shape of the building is quite dynamic and we selected renowned architect Moshe Safdie to do the planning.”
The experience of working in Colombo was quite challenging for the group. A lot of workers had to be taken from India and a lot of raw materials had to be sourced from India as well. Mohta added, “Language was a barrier and we had to hire locals to translate. Additionally, when the project was near completion, sales was a major challenge and we had to hire and train a local sales team.”
The project was a success. It received massive traction from the country’s affluent classes and could also attract the attention of its expatriate population. According to Mohta, “Building such an iconic structure is challenging and it takes time. There were periods when the market was down but we strived to meet our completion date and, in the end, the project was a success. Learning from those experiences in Columbo, we are now better placed to explore international markets.”
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