Raymond Realty, a wholly owned subsidiary of textile major Raymond Ltd, launched its first project at Thane in 2019. The real estate firm has since taken on more projects - all of them in Mumbai. In an interview, Raymond CMD Gautam Hari Singhania explained why the real-estate company continues to remain Mumbai-focused and why he isn't interested in developing luxury properties right now. Edited excerpts:
Raymond has historically been known for textiles and apparels even though it has diversified along the way. What are the key engines propelling you today?
In our group, basically the two biggest lines will be the lifestyle business and our real estate business. Presently the split is this for the nine months ending December last year: Raymond Realty was Rs 826 crore, and for the Lifestyle business, the aggregated revenue for nine months ending December was Rs 4,828 crore.
Also read: Raymond's heart of the market approach
Where will you focus and zoom in on geographically for realty?
It's Mumbai-focused. We have signed a JDA (joint development arrangement) and we're getting into more of those. The JDA is the way forward because if India has to be built, you need good quality builders. We have demonstrated that with our first project; which we delivered two years ahead of the RERA timeline. In the second phase, we are well ahead of our timeline. So now we're looking at JDAs. As I see it, there are trillions of dollars' worth of redevelopment only in the city of Mumbai forget billions, and so we’re not looking to play outside of Mumbai.
How's the delivery pace so far?
We have 900 flats in the first three towers delivered. The total project size is 10 towers of TenX with 3,100 flats. Then two towers with 549 flats is the project size of Address by GS. Construction is in full swing for both the projects.
Tell us more about the latent potential in the city of Mumbai?
Just take the next building from where we are sitting here (JK Tower) in Warden Road, for example. It has 12 apartments, at around Rs 60 crore each here and around Rs 720 crore worth sales which is about $100 million. Ten buildings like this are worth a billion, so just redeveloping Sophia College Lane would technically be worth $4-5 billion which is unlike most other cities. I don't want to spread myself thin because I think in there is enough opportunity to meet my aspiration levels, today in Mumbai. I don't need to get out of here. If I get three or four good projects in Mumbai, I have my hands full. And you know a lot of people failed because they stretched themselves too wide. So you don't want to get yourself into a spiral.
Beyond shareholder value creation which you’ve talked about in the past, what are your core future goals?
Each business has their own, for example, real estate is how many projects can you take a year, and what kind of projects can you take in a year? If you're able to take the kind of projects that you plan, you will get the exponential growth you're looking for. If we look at lifestyle, it depends on each brand strategy. So, how do we want to introduce the distribution network for a new product, its niche business strategy and so on. So there's a five-year game plan for all of that.
Coming back to real estate, which segment are you looking to go deep in?
When we do real estate today in Thane, we're not building 4,000 square feet apartments… we're building 370 square feet to 545 with a 10 percent spread either way. That's the belly of the market. That's the aspirational level of middle-class India. That's why that’s a huge market.
That’s the same principle driving how Indian companies in many spheres are becoming the largest in the world. All of them are just huge companies, cement companies, telecom companies, textile companies, you name it, they've got to be the largest in the world, because you're catering to such a large market with such a large domestic volume.
In our real estate business, we have a tagline which is building India 123. One BHK, two BHK and 3BHK, and that's where the market is.
Given that you also operate a lifestyle business that has premium and super premium products will you also look at the same fundamentals for real estate and get into luxury?
But where is the turnover in that? If I have to build a project that will give me revenue of Rs 1,000 crore through sales over 10 years, then that is not my market. I'd rather take a million square feet, which is a project that is worth Rs 3,000 crore or more. Like I said, I am interested in building India right now.