Reliance Industries (RIL) kicked off its ambitious Rs 25,000-crore retail venture - Reliance Fresh - with the launching of the first set of 11 pilot stores in Hyderabad on Friday. The company intends to have its presence in five more cities in Andhra Pradesh including Vijayawada, Tirupati, Warangal, Visakhapatnam and Guntur by the end of this year.
"Our plan is to open more stores across different geographies, and eventually have a pan-India footprint by 2010-11. Based on the customers' feedback from the first set of pilot stores in Hyderabad, which would help the company fine tune its offerings, we plan to expand to top 70 cities across the country in the next 18 to 24 months," Raghu Pillai, president and CEO (operations & strategy) of Reliance Retail, said here today.
The first of several formats from Reliance Retail, these pilot stores, with an average area of between 2,000 sq.ft and 4,000 sq.ft each, will have fresh fruits and vegetables, staples, groceries, fresh juice bars and dairy products. Besides, they will have a separate enclosure and supply-chain for non-vegetarian products.
Five years down the line, Reliance Fresh brand of stores will have its presence in 784 urban towns and 6,000-odd rural mandi towns, covering over 100 million sq.ft of retail space backed by a 68-strong distribution network. The company expects to garners sales to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore by then, Pillai said, adding these stores would provide direct employment to 5 lakh young Indians and indirect job opportunities to a million people. "We plan to train students and housewives in customer care and quality services for part-time jobs," he said.
Stating that the retail venture was not aimed at having a monopoly in the Indian retail sector, unlike RIL's other ventures, Pillai said the company's strategy was to have a share coming out of a growing market. Pegging the Indian retail industry at $300 billion, which was mostly enjoyed by kirana merchants and cart vendors, he said that the company was contemplating partnering small-scale traders at a later stage by setting up separate outlets wherein the traders could purchase groceries and other products from them.