Atop a high rise

Atop a high rise

Brigade Group worked against odds when it started in 1986 and today, has established business across diversified real estate verticals in residential, commercial office spaces, retail and hospitality.  Over the next five to seven years, it aims to develop nearly 40 million square feet of space across all its verticals

S. MEERA

It was the pre-liberalisation and pre-IT boom days when people were still conservative in their aspirations. MR Jaishankar, founder and CMD, Brigade Group, came from a reputed family of coffee planters from the hill town of Chikmagalur, Karnataka and was looking to diversify. He had the vision to identify the then nascent industry of property development as a sunrise sector and the development potential of Bengaluru city, which was supported by his market research.

During that period, property developers were infamous for neglecting quality and focusing on short-term gains and totally lacking in long-term vision.

Brigade Towers, the very first Brigade project launched by Jaishankar in 1987, was an ambitious 14-storey office complex, where well-known architects and structural consultants were engaged to see it off the ground. It became the tallest building built by a private developer in Bengaluru.

Brigade commissioned a communication plan that pioneered the use of professionally designed project literature and launched an all-India marketing and advertising campaign, thereby setting a precedent for the industry. Incidentally, Brigade was the first property developer to release an advertisement in India Today, in 1986, making Brigade Towers not just a successful office development but also a marketing success.

Breaking past mental barriers

Realising the dormant demand for residential apartments in Bengaluru, which was coupled with aversion to the idea of apartment-living as people were used to independent houses, Brigade released a manifesto called The Brigade Promise. This assured buyers of only free-hold and clear-title properties, full clearances from statutory authorities, architectural and engineering excellence and a delivery time that was better than the industry norm. The rest, as they say, is history and slowly but surely, Brigade has contributed significantly to the progress of real estate developmentand changing the landscape of Bengaluru.

In 2000, Brigade became an ISO 9001-2000 certified organisation, among the first property developers to achieve this in the country and certainly the first real estate developer in South India. Delivering on promise through unflinching commitment towards quality, be it through products, processes, people and performance has always made our efforts more productive, explains Vishal Mirchandani, CEO, Brigade Commercial and Retail.

Unity in diversity

The flagship company, Brigade Enterprises, began by developing residential and commercial properties in Bengaluru and today has expanded its operations to many other cities in south India like Chennai, Hyderabad, Mangalore, Chikmagalur and Kochi apart from having a strong presence in Bengaluru and Mysore. Its residential portfolio now includes apartments, penthouses, villas, premium residences, luxury apartments and value homes in various budget ranges.  Brigade has also pioneered integrated enclaves in Bengaluru, which has grown from 20 acre enclaves developed earlier, to 40 acres and now a 130 acre mixed use enclave at Devenahalli.

The IT boom that first proved beneficial to the city also provided opportunities across sectors. Brigade entered hospitality and retail businesses apart from focusing on strengthening its existing leadership position in the residential and office space sectors. It has developed Grade A commercial properties such as the World Trade Center in Bangalore, Software and IT parks, SEZs and standalone offices. Brigade’s retail portfolio includes the Orion Mall, exclusive shopping areas in star hotels and other retail formats that complement its developments.

Brigade Hospitality Services, a 100 per cent subsidiary, pioneered the concept of serviced apartments in the city in 2004. Today, Brigade has in its portfolio, 5-star hotels – including the Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, Grand Mercure, recreational clubs and convention centres in Bengaluru and other cities of South India. The hospitality business also runs catering services and an event management business and has recently launched the High Ultra lounge bar atop the World Trade Center at Brigade Gateway.

The company has also partnered with Sporting Edge, a venture founded by Steve Waugh, the Australian cricket legend and philanthropist, to give Bengaluru a better future in sports in its upcoming township Brigade Orchards. The aim is to provide world-class sports facilities and expert coaching to enable children and budding sportspersons achieve their potential across sport categories including cricket, swimming, tennis, football and athletics.

In 2003, Brigade Foundation, a not-for-profit trust, which focuses on education was founded and now runs three schools in different parts of the city.

“Our journey for the future will ensure that each of these business verticals turn into strategically dominating ventures and achieve stakeholder objectives,” says Mirchandani.

Contributors to success

The company has built a large and varied portfolio of residential projects covering villas, luxury apartments, mid-market homes and affordable housing. Mirchandani stresses that tracking and catering to changing customer lifestyles and expectations, growing in vision and capability, adhering to international trends in architecture and design, facing and overcoming environmental challenges and adopting technological advancement relevant to the construction industry have all contributed to Brigade’s growth.

“Continuous research has ensured that we have a real understanding of changing worldwide trends in architecture, design and construction. We have travelled to the U.S., Europe, South-east Asia and the Middle-East to study the changing face of urban architecture on a first-hand basis. We have visited different cities in India to become familiar with our own environment as well. Customer surveys and feedback analysis put us in touch with customer aspirations and preferences. These are the main ingredients which we engineer to deliver benchmark developments” he adds.

Over the 27 years, Brigade has taken many initiatives to contribute to society such as planting over 25,000 trees, constructing roads and re-developing parks and playgrounds in the vicinity of its properties. It is now in the process of starting India’s first experiential music museum in Bangalore.

Overcoming challenges

A dip in business sentiments and inflationary pressures on commodities and finance are two great challenges plaguing the economy today. There is a crying need to scale up the available infrastructure to keep pace with the growing population and the demands of a developing economy. Statutory approvals get delayed and processes need simplification for improved efficiency in project management.

“Consistent availability of a reliable and skilled work force remains a challenge and we need to work towards implementing alternative construction methods to reduce our dependence on an expanded work force,” points out Mirchandani. “To that effect, we have implemented a new technology of construction called Precast concrete technology in our township of Brigade Orchards which optimises the use of resources such as labour, material and other auxiliary works,” he adds.

Appropriate clear-title land availability and the cost of land acquisition is increasingly making development activity more challenging. “In many of our projects, we partner with land owners through a joint development to develop new and large projects,” explains Mirchandani.

Leapfrogging Over Years

From a team of five people in 1986, Brigade, which is listed on the NSE and BSE, currently employs over a 1,000. It has delivered more than 20 million square feet of developed space across business verticals. It is present in seven cities in south India.

From residential and office spaces, Brigade now has shopping malls, stand alone retail formats, convenience retail, hotels in 4/5 star and 3-star categories, serviced apartments, recreational clubs, convention centres and recently introduced catering services and event management and a world class lounge bar. The core business of residential development has expanded to include villas, luxury apartments, mid-market homes, affordable housing and homes for the retired along with an office space business which now comprises SEZ and non-SEZ developments for large companies and for small entrepreneurial ventures. Brigade Foundation runs three Brigade Schools in Bengaluru and has around 2,000 students in its fold.

The group has strategic relations with international hospitality groups like Starwood Group, IHG and Accor. Many of the Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Siemens, ABB and more are its customers in the office space business apart from knowledge leaders like Mckinsey, Ernst & Young, PwC and KPMG.

“Our retail business enjoys a strong association with important international and national retailers like Zara, Debenhams, Mango, McDonalds and we are poised for healthy expansion in this space,” says Mirchandani.

Brigade group follows the principle of “profitable growth” and at the same time it believes in being a quality-conscious company. “Hence while we are now on the threshold of crossing revenues of Rs. 1,000 crore, we continue to create benchmark development across our verticals and have lined up more than 40 million square feet of development over the next five to seven years which we believe will place us in a dominant position in each of our business verticals,” he says.

From “For a better quality of life”, the Brigade Group has changed its motto to “Upgrade to Brigade”, reflecting the group’s direction and focus on connecting with the changing needs of the market and maintaining its strong focus on quality.


Snapshot 

Brigade Enterprises Ltd

Founded in: 1986

Funding: Listed company

Focus: Across real estate verticals including residential, commercial office spaces, retail and hospitality


WHAT NEXT FOR BRIGADE GROUP 

The Group aims to strengthen its leadership status in its various business verticals and further enhance the quality of life for its customers. 

It plans to deliver 40 million square feet in 5-7 years, which is under various stages of execution across residential, office space, hospitality and retail businesses.

The Group’s retail and commercial business will contribute around 8 to 10 million square feet of space across the various cities of South India

Its hospitality business has already signed an MoU with the world renowned IHG to set up ten Holiday Inn Express hotels across south India