We wanted to replicate Singapore's Orchard Street, says Phoenix Mills director Gayatri Ruia

Success Quotient is a weekly feature that appears every Friday on Firstpost, which looks at the pains and joys en route to success for a head honcho -  a CEO, MD or an entrepreneur. The column looks at the ideas that helped launch a company, its highs and lows and future plans.

Phoenix Mills, now known as High Street Phoenix was a 'destination' envisaged by the Ruias when they found the going tough to run the mills located there earlier. A new business rose from the ruins of the old, retaining the structure along with its iconic chimney, and turned the then quiet street into a high-end shopping destination. Gayatri Ruia -- one half of the dynamic duo with her husband Atul Ruia of the Rs 1,450 crore Phoenix Mills -- is proud of her creation. Ruia, the director of Phoenix Mills, talks of how she and her husband made a success of a vision that was solely her husband’s and how the business shot up their stock within the family.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Did you always want to start off on your own?

Yes, I think I did. I found that I had too many varied interests. My parents were worried that I would become a Jack of all trades. They felt I should specialize in something if I wanted to make something of myself. I loved reading about architecture and design and studied to be an interior designer.  My education blends well with our business of real estate development.

 We wanted to replicate Singapores Orchard Street, says Phoenix Mills director Gayatri Ruia

Gayatri Ruia, Director, Phoenix Mills

You were quite young when you married Atul Ruia. Did you have dreams of starting a business then?

We married young. We had this traditional business of textile mills but it became unviable to continue with it. We, however, had an asset with the land on which the mills stood. We wanted to do something out-of-the-box and Atul came up with the idea of a mall. When we decided to start one, we met with resistance from the family. However, we believed in the dream and began with a bowling alley and a night club. We had to work very hard and be careful of every step we took and convince the family, too.

Did you have a blueprint of what the mall would be?

Atul had it. He wanted to replicate Orchard Street in Singapore here. There was a certain idea of magnitude of the transformation that would take place.  I certainly could not imagine Atul's vision even if I squinted! We were not sure of the outcome. There were no organized retail or malls in in Mumbai 15 years ago. There were old business streets like Kalbadevi road, for instance. We transformed Parel with High Street Phoenix. In that sense, we were the pioneers. The matured consumer has grown with us.

What, in your opinion, is the missing element in malls in India?

Most of the malls in the country are well designed. There is a lot of science and thought that goes into planning a mall. We have no public places in the country like libraries,  open parks or meeting places in the city or the country where people can meet up and relax.  Malls have fulfilled that need of the people. We have a thriving mall culture in India now. The quality of Indian customers is still evolving and has not fully matured yet..

What is your success mantra?

We believed in our product and did not give up. It is important to keep the same tempo of enthusiasm from the beginning through to the completion of a project. One must also ensure that the people working in the project share the same enthusiasm. Like any elite athlete who knows that only one out of the 8 runners can win the race and he/she is that winner, an entrepreneur should believe that he will emerge a winner.

It is difficult to know everything about the business in great depth, but an entrepreneur should keep himself updated about the business, its development and also about changes in the field he is working. The specialists and the experts that he has employed can help to some extent but the decision is the entrepreneur's call only. In a  business like ours, it is important to remember that we are service providers. It is our business to see that the customer is happy with the retail experience.

Which is your favourite place at Phoenix Mills ?

I only shop at the Palladium as I get everything I want from here.. I like to visit all our stores. I believe it is a great place to shop from a consumer point of view as there is a great variety of goods available here-- be it shoes, rackets, apparel or white goods.

What are your hobbies?

I like to read, both fiction and non fiction.  I am currently reading Niall Fergusson’s Empire about how a tiny island like Britain was able to rule most of the known world. I also like baking. I am not a great cook but I love making cakes.

Updated Date: Feb 02, 2015 12:27:48 IST