Mall Report & More

TBH, we are now beginning to wonder if we are living in a reality show of one natural challenge after the other, be it blasts, floods or the now familiar threat of coronavirus.  

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Discounted revenues for malls

Although aviation, oil and tourism are the obvious hits in this crisis, looks like malls aren’t particularly unscathed. In it’s analysis of India’s top 10 malls, CRISIL concluded that revenue was set to halve this fiscal year. Although they collectively have a Rs. 4,200 Crore debt, with a high debt service coverage ratio they are in fairly safe water. But, the story for smaller malls could be very different. Retails stores within malls also saw a staggering 77% de-growth in the month of June with their high-street counter parts often doing better for being outdoor and more convenient with a single swoop in and out.

Weren’t the malls supposed to reopen? Well, yes but their dine-in restaurants, multiplexes and food courts which contribute to 22% of the revenues remain shut. Also, most states are following different protocols with Maharashtra allowing the reopen only as recently as yesterday, 5th August. Even with that, there are hiccups. On Monday, Ahmedabad’s biggest mall “Ahmedabad One” was sealed for blatant disregard of the “new normal” norms.

 Let’s innovate: Some malls have turned this situation on it’s head by coming up with new ways to integrate hygiene and social distancing. Oberoi mall in Mumbai has installed sensor-based sanitiser stands for constant cleaning at baggage scanners and escalator belts. Some malls in Pune are going all UV to disinfect shopping bags. DLF though has taken the plunge to digitise for a contactless food court experience with digital menus, pre-ordering, table booking and digital feedback. Very few tigers out there who will not change their stripes in this crisis.

Indian Smartphone market all buzzed up

While earlier considered to be Weapons of Mass Distraction, in today’s wfh age they are almost considered an essential item. Although, coronavirus saw supply side disruptions for the industry, demand is expected to continue being robust with a forecast of about 40% recovery expected in the second half of the year. Add to this the fact that the top smartphone players in budget and premium categories are Chinese and you got yourself a high intensity market to watch out.

Playing on the difference between Korean and Chinese: Chinese brands were hit by supply chain disruptions as well as the wave of negative sentiment against the country. Although Xiaomi continues to lead the overall market with a 29% share and One Plus still rules the premium segment, overall Chinese brands lost 9% market share. Samsung lapped up this animosity and saw it’s share rise from 16% to 26% within one quarter. Another looming giant competitor waiting in the wings is the Google-Jio partnership which aims to make a cheap Made-for-India phone.

Blurring boundaries: Although One Plus turned out to be a topper in the premium phone category, at the time that it was launched it created waves as an affordable power packed option to iPhone. With every series, the prices also kept touching new heights. With One Plus Nord though, the smartphone maker is back to make it’s mark in the affordable segment as well. Considering shrinking incomes due to the pandemic leading to a 32% volume drop in the premium segment in June 2020, the timing is well done.

Corporate secret theft has a new tongue twister name

In one of the most high-profile cases of two tech giants, Uber and Google, slugging it out in court with hefty figures being thrown around, Anthony Levandowski is a name cropping up incessantly.

What’s the saga behind this? This tale can come across juicier than the murkiest corporate Netflix show you can look for. Anthony Levandowski, a brilliant engineer joined Google in 2009 and helped set up their self driving unit or Waymo. In 2016, Levandowski started his own outfit called Otto which attempted self-driven haulage trucks. Seeing the quick turnaround, Uber’s ear perked up and they bought Otto for a few hundred millions. Google sued Uber and the two settled the suit for around $245 Million, with Uber firing Levandowski in the process for apparent non-cooperation. Then Google came after Levandowski. 

Now what? On Monday, a court sentenced Levandowski to 18 months imprisonment, starting once the Coronavirus threat is mostly out of the picture. Of the 33 charges alleged by Google, Levandowksi has admitted guilt to one. However, he also filed for bankruptcy claiming assets worth $100 Million which would be insufficient to pay the $179 Million fine imposed. The latest twist? Not content with a three and a half year long legal battle, Levandowski is learnt to have sued Uber with charges that could run up to $4 Billion.

IN SNIPPETS

Income tax scrutiny reduces: Income tax returns chosen for scrutiny have come down from 0.55 in assessment year 2017-18 to 0.25 in AY 2018-19. While the absolute numbers were not released, the total returns filed had shown an increase in AY 2018-19.

Season 3 of Chinese app ban in India: Much like a student who remembers little changes to be made in the assignment after submission, the government added even more Chinese apps to the banned list. This time, they include apps by phone company Xiaomi and the search engine Baidu.

Telecom tie-ups still flavour of the season: Bharti Airtel and Amazon Web Services have come together for a multi-year strategic collaboration agreement (SCA) to offer cloud services to SME clients in India. This is in addition to their existing partnership with Google Cloud.

Beirut port blast: Atleast 100 people were killed and almost 4000 injured in a massive blast at Beirut port where the explosion could be heard over a 10 km radius. Official reasons suspect 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate kept in storage for over 6 years, to be the culprit. On the other hand, Donald Trump had no qualms stirring the pot to confidently label it as an attack.

Blessing or curse for Clorox? One of the superheros in this crisis have been the Clorox wipes, helpful to disinfect any surface. Their popularity showed in their absence from retail stores soon enough. Now, the company says supply will remain iffy for the rest of 2020.

MARKET PULSE

While the indices remained mostly flat, it was one of the rare days when Sensex and Nifty sported different colours.

Gold seems to have missed out on the memo to keep prices real. It set a new benchmark on Wednesday again when it crossed the Rs. 55000/10 gram threshold. Resultantly, imports dropped by 24% YoY in July.

WILD CARD

With heavy rains and super fast winds, the rain in Mumbai broke several records and went into several places unannounced. In the meantime, some fishes found themselves swimming in very different spots, namely Mumbai local train tracks.  

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