This issue is coming after a gap of one year. The April issue could not be released due to the 2nd wave of the pandemic and the connected lockdown.
People’s perceptions and attitudes toward life and work have changed a lot over the last 17 months. People and businesses who were able to adapt to the fast changes encountered, have flourished. Those who could not, have unfortunately perished. The impact of the 2nd wave was quite severe on the personal lives of millions of Indians. More than 32 million people contracted the Wuhan Virus and unfortunately, 430 thousand people have died in our country. Worldwide figures: 207 million affected & nearly 4.4 million people have passed away.
The numbers are only growing by the day, even though multiple vaccines are available. For 7,800 million people to be vaccinated twice, it can take another year or two. Luckily, more than 500 million Indians have been administered at least one dose of the vaccine. As a result, if there is a third wave of the virus, the impact is likely to be less severe than the earlier 2 waves. Only time will tell. But, as individuals, one needs to strictly follow all precautions as recommended by the health authorities for their own good.
During these uncertain times, Brigade was able to sail through the troubled waters reasonably well. While our Hospitality and Retail segments were badly affected, the Residential real estate business performed remarkably well by posting the highest sales since the inception of the Group in October 1986. Office leasing sentiments are also affected quite a bit, although the Indian software sector has had exceptional times due to their sheer resilience and ability to keep up their commitments to clients.
The concept of life and work has also undergone tremendous change. Work From Home (WFH) in the financial and technology sectors is a shining example of success, wherever remote working is possible. E-commerce has made life convenient to the technologically savvy population. It has already revolutionised the retail shopping sector. It will have a big impact in the years ahead on the traditional ‘Kirana’ stores and even Shopping Malls. Lockdowns to contain COVID-19 have reinforced the importance of owning a ‘roof over one’s head’, that too a comfortable, spacious one. With reduced expenditure & increased personal savings due to lockdowns, and real estate developers coming up with attractive price & payment schemes, the affordability factor has increased at all levels, resulting in improved demand for housing. This has been the saving grace for developers. Even with all the challenges faced during the last 17 months, we have been able to complete 15 projects with an area of 12.40 million square feet, including our marquee project, World Trade Center (WTC) Chennai. During the same period, we launched 14 projects with an area of 11.30 million square feet including Brigade Citadel in Hyderabad, and Brigade Residences at WTC Chennai.
A feather in the cap is the recognition by the international body, Great Place to Work Institute in association with the Economic Times, for the 11th year in a row - placing Brigade amongst the Top 100 Best Places to Work in the Country - the only real estate developer in the country to receive such an honour. Despite inadequate support to business and industry by the Central & State Government, the Indian Corporate Sector has shown a lot of resilience, thereby presumably, helping wipe out the 7.5% negative GDP of 2020. Good monsoon across the country, in general, has played its part. But the concerns of MSME sectors and small businesses remain. This means by the end of March 2022, India’s financial position may get back to March 2020 status. With the loss of 2 valuable years of growth, it would be a miracle of sorts if our country can reach the targeted GDP of 5 trillion USD by 2024-25. Reaching the USD 5-7 trillion mark is essential for the country. This will ensure that per capita income goes up to USD 4-5k from the present USD 2k. Only when the per capita income goes beyond USD 4-5k, can the MIG population hope to have good disposable income, which in turn will give a boost for the next stage of growth. This would be very similar to what happened in China over the last 20 years. The Central Government has taken up several structural reforms during the past couple of years to help the Indian industry grow and at the same time supporting the farmers and the poorer sections of the society. One hopes these structural reforms will start yielding results soon. Stock indices of BSE & NSE have gone through the roof on this expectation. FII & SIP fund inflows have added fuel to the fire.
With this hope, as we enter the 75th year of Independence, we can expect ‘Tomorrow to be brighter than Today’.
Wishing our readers good health and safety.
—Jaishankar CMD, Brigade.
The Completion of Brigade Gateway Residential Block is a major milestone achieved. While significant completion has happened, the snag rectification of individual apartments and overall fine tuning is a challenging process, requiring great care and patience. The Brigade Gateway campus is looking better and better as it moves towards total completion. The Brigade School will open in June 2010. The Galaxy Club should open in a couple of months. WTC Bangalore, Orion Mall and Sheraton Bangalore Hotel are also getting ready. As far as I know, Brigade Gateway is the most integrated enclave in an urban centre anywhere in the world! The total integration of residential with offices, retail, hotel, medical, educational and recreational facilities within the city, is unprecedented. The convenience of living in such an environment will truly be a great experience.
While the Indian economy has shown stability, it is getting affected by the shaky European economy. Mounting debt in Greece, Portugal, Spain and even Italy has started creating a ripple effect. I hope the governments in EU countries won’t let another 2008 kind of situation happen.
Central and State Budgets of 2010 have come and gone without giving any relief on applicability of multiple taxes to the same real estate transaction. India could be the only country with the dubious distinction of treating purchase of a property under construction from a developer as: firstly, ‘transfer of property’ attracting stamp duty; secondly, as Sale of Goods under VAT rules; and, to make matters worse, as a Service under the Central Government Service Tax Rules. The desire to get revenue has made the authorities/law makers blind, with the result, citizens have to live with this unfair tax treatment.
Brigade Group is trying to launch a number of new projects in all segments and categories—residential, office, retail and hospitality. But the procedures and the need to meet more and more rules and get permissions is making the process very cumbersome and time consuming…resulting in an increase in overhead costs, which negatively impacts on the product price.
Our Mercure Homestead Residences will soon be rebranded as ‘Grand Mercure’ (a higher rated brand of Accor Hotels worldwide). Our Mercure property recently received an award—from the globally recognised Hospitality Consultants, HVS—for Best New Hotel in South Asia in the Serviced Apartment category! To cap this, the Ministry of Tourism has also given a 5-star rating for Mercure Homestead Residences.
It is heartening to get recognized again by the well-known Realty Plus magazine as the Best Regional Developer (Residential) in 2010 for the Southern Region. So also by Construction Source India as the Best Developer in Residential Infrastructure.
In the next few months, Brigade will concentrate on total completion of its many projects which are in final stages and sale/lease of balance stock of residential, office and retail units—apart from making persistent efforts to create new stock quickly. I look forward to continued support and patronage from our clients for our new launches.