Sunday, July 25, 2021

Interaction-Ravi Menon, Chairman, Sobha Ltd

SOBHA epitomises "Passion at Work" in totality


Founded in 1995, with a vision to change the way people perceive quality, Sobha Limited has completed 111 real estate projects and 278 contractual projects in 25 cities and 13 states across India. RAVI MENON, CHAIRMAN, SOBHA LTD, responded to queries from CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on the concept of integrated amenities and its foray into aspirational housing.


Could you tell us about your company background and the areas of the real estate business in which you are focused? Briefly talk of your organisation’s philosophy and the values you bring into the construction business?

Sobha Limited, a Rs.25 billion company, is one of the largest and the only backward integrated real estate player in the country.

Headquartered in Bangalore, SOBHA is primarily focused on residential and contractual projects. Our residential projects include presidential apartments, villas, row houses, luxury and super luxury apartments, plotted development along with amenities such as clubhouses, swimming pools and shopping complexes. The Company lays a strong emphasis on environmental management, water harvesting and high safety standards. On the Contracts side, we have constructed a wide variety of structures for corporates including office complex, convention centres, software development blocks, multiplex theatres, hostel facilities, guest houses, food courts, restaurants, research centres and club houses. Some of SOBHA's prestigious corporate clients include Infosys, Taj Group, Dell, HP, Timken, Biocon, Institute of Public Enterprises (IPE), Bosch, Hotel Leela Ventures and others. As of March 31st 2016, we have completed 111 real estate projects and 278 contractual projects covering a consolidated area of about 81.64 million square feet of area with a footprint in 25 cities and 13 states across India. The backward integration model is one of the key competitive strengths of SOBHA. This literally means that the Company has all the competencies and in-house resources to deliver a project from conceptualisation to completion. Backward integration includes an interiors division, a metal works and glazing factory, and a concrete products factory. The Company has also diversified into retail business with spring mattresses under the brand name 'Sobha Restoplus'. More than 27 variants of mattresses are produced by the mattress division on state-of-the-art machinery of American and European pedigree. SOBHA epitomises "Passion at Work" in totality. It guides us towards creating products of international quality and workmanship. Further, it helps us to be transparent in all our dealings, achieve perfection in all that we do and adhere to timeliness strictly. We are committed and immensely passionate at what we do and how we do it.



Could you provide brief details about the important landmarks you have completed – name, size, features, geographical areas of operation, special features, people involved in design and architecture, investments – ongoing and future projects?

SOBHA has achieved a handful of milestones in the recent past. We have launched ‘Sobha Dream Acres’, first of its kind under a new segment - ‘Sobha Dream Series’ at Balagere, Bengaluru. This project is a unique residential development to cater to the aspirations of salaried professionals who prefer premium quality compact luxury homes replete with world-class amenities. It comprises of 1 BHK and 2 BHK units with super built-up area (SBA) ranging from 650 to 1000 and to 1,200 square feet, with approximately 7,000 units, when fully completed. The project will have abundant green space for sports and recreational facilities as also natural lighting and ventilation. A unique feature of this project which makes it different from our other projects is the use of cutting-edge integrated precast technology, employing best-in-class machinery imported from Germany and Italy installed at the project site.

In addition, SOBHA has forayed into the commercial segment (retail space leasing) with the launch of 'Sobha City Mall' in Thrissur, Kerala. The mall offers best-in- class retail and entertainment experience for the customers. Sprawled over five acres, 'Sobha City Mall' has a built up area of approximately 4,50,000 sq. ft., comprising of three floors of shopping space along with a basement for car parking. This is designed to offer an array of retail, entertainment and recreation options with a 6 screen multiplex, restaurants, food court and a gaming arcade.

‘Sobha City’ township where the mall is situated, comprises of 720 apartments, of which 432 are 3BHK, 288 are 4BHK, 48 villas and 4 exclusive bungalows. It is a unique development in Thrissur and one of the best examples of sustainable design. The township development is uniquely designed on central place theory and has a man-made lake of 6.5 acres which functionally is a rain water harvesting tank, fulfilling the water requirement of the entire development. 



Give us an understanding of your focus on green – with successful case studies – and tell us of the use of best practices/top quality construction material in your projects?

We have implemented the concept of Value Engineering (VE) in one of our new high-rise building projects - Sobha Indraprastha. For this, we have conducted a detailed study on the technology and its usage. The study has helped us in understanding the ways to reduce carbon footprints in manufacturing of concrete products. Moreover, VE has helped in lowering the cement composition in every cubic meter of concrete, mitigating the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere and has resulted in lot of operational cost savings.

The best green practices are followed in all our properties. An ample open space and greenery are also ensured in all the properties. Sobha Silicon Oasis, for example, has a 4.5 acre central forest area which is meant to host a plethora of natural recreational activities for the young and the old alike. Solar heating facilities are also provided in the projects to promote sustainability concept.

SOBHA contributes to the environment by using eco-friendly products like GGBS (Ground granulated blast furnace slag) at precast plants at Jigani, Bengaluru for manufacturing Concrete blocks and paver units. Moreover, GGBS is being used

in one of our landmark projects - Sobha Indraprastha, near Gopalpura, (close to Majestic) in Bengaluru which is, by far, one of the tallest buildings constructed at Bengaluru with 34 floors! At this project, 55000 cubic metres of concrete was produced with 50 per cent replacement of ordinary Portland cement with GGBS.



Tell us of the difference made by your organisation in the crowded real estate business?

SOBHA is a brand renowned for quality workmanship and timely delivery of all its projects. To do so, the Company adopted a unique Backward Integration model and began strengthening it internally by setting up related manufacturing units. Today, SOBHA is the only real estate player in the country to have a full-fledged Backward Integration model. The model is not just our key competitive strength but also our fundamental differentiator. We have all the key competencies and in-house resources to deliver a project from conceptualization to completion.

In addition, SOBHA has an in-house precast facility situated at its project site in Bengaluru. This offers world-class machinery and technology that enables unmatched quality and speed of construction. The facility has a capacity to cater to 10 million sq. ft. of construction in less than four years. It allows modular structures to be constructed with production of walls, slabs, columns, beams, staircases and sunshade elements. Presently it caters to the company’s distinctive project, ‘Sobha Dream Acres’, under its new segment in housing - ‘Sobha Dream Series’ in Balagere, Bengaluru.



With India looking to achieve housing for all by 2022 what is your organisation planning to do in the area of affordability?

SOBHA has ventured into 650 sqft to 1200 sqft segment, a new growth vertical through the launch of ‘Sobha Dream Acres’ falling under ‘Sobha Dream Series’ umbrella. We call it aspirational housing catering to low and mid-income segment and targeted at salaried professionals who aspire to own compact luxury units.



What are your expectations from the government in terms of easing the doing business atmosphere in the country?

Government has done a good job in supporting the construction sector specifically real estate. FDI restrictions have been removed. Foreign funds can now be brought of any amount and for any project size. Additionally, Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) has been removed from Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). These are important steps towards boosting investments in the sector.

The recent advent of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act will help the sector further by bringing more transparency and weeding out non-serious operators. It mandates 70 per cent of the funds collected from a particular project to be parked in an escrow account which needs to be utilized for its construction. Additionally, the Act lays that developers need to complete the project on time otherwise they will have to face legal proceedings. We now expect the government to simplify the statutory approval process and introduce a single window clearing system.



Tell us of the plans of your organisation, investments and outlook for the business in future?

Fiscal 2016 has in many ways set the stage for the next phase of development in the real estate sector. A significant transformation awaits the sector with the RERA becoming a reality. The Act will help in bringing greater transparency and professionalism which will be beneficial for both end users and long-term players. We look forward with greater optimism and are committed to build international quality products with focus on delivery excellence.

Leave a Comment

Email Address
(will not be published)