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India Retail Forum 2007: The tale of modernising Indian retail

Author | Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy & Rishi Vora | Thursday, Sep 06,2007 10:18 AM

India Retail Forum 2007: The tale of modernising Indian retail

Day 2 of India Retail Forum 2007 presented an opportunity for the Indian retail industry to look and deliberate in detail on this growing market. The panel discussions covered a wide range of topics ranging from emerging retail spaces to political issues, lack of skilled manpower to entry strategies for global retail players.

The morning session began with a breakfast workshop on effective implementation of IT that saw the participation of representatives from some of the leading retail chains and regional retailers.

The National Retail Deliberation Presentations gave the eminent panel an opportunity to table their concerns and issues arising in the industry. Political issues and lack of skilled manpower in the Indian retail industry emerged as the biggest issues for which solutions were deliberated upon.

In her presentation on the Indian retail market, Ireena Vittal, Principal, McKinsey & Co, compared the market with similar markets in Brazil, China, the US and France. Talking about benefits from the industry, she said, “There will be benefits like direct and indirect unemployment, increased taxes for the government and decreased prices for the consumers.” Explaining further on the shopper profiles in the country, Vittal also observed that India would be a market of million small transactions.

B S Nagesh, MD, Shoppers’ Stop, talked about the need for modernising the organised retail sector. “By 2010, I don’t think many foreign retailers will be in India; but by 2020, there will be a lot of foreign retailers entering through franchising and licensing models,” he said.

R Subramanian, MD, the Subhiksha chain, noted the need for focusing on 2008-09 instead of 2015 for development in the space, and also pointed out the problems of MRP prevailing in the industry. Agreeing on the issue, Sumantra Banerjeee, President and CEO, Retail Group, RPG Enterprises, presented his views on the growth and profitability of retail in India. Commenting on the HR issues facing the retail industry, Sanjay Jog, HR Head, The Future Group, said that the core was to how to migrate from the frontline to management. Bijou Kurien, President, Reliance Retail, gave an overview of the modern retail industry in India along with the present ground realities and future opportunities.

The post-lunch session saw speakers discuss on topics like ‘How to Minimise Cost While Creating Retail Designs’ and deliberated on ways to reach the widespread masses by opening retail points at crucial locations. It also saw a presentation by Tim Hall, MD, L&H, UK, who took the delegates through the journey of the retail industry since the early 1900s. Hall explained the journey of retail as he cited examples of how Mark and Spencer as a brand had evolved since its inception.

In a panel discussion on ‘Entry Strategy for Global Retail Players,’ speakers like Ajay Kaul, CEO, Domino’s; Peter Baker, CEO, H&B Stores (Dabur); Bijou Kurien, President and Chief Executive, Lifestyle, Reliance Retail; Purvin Patel, RadhaKrishna Foodland Fresh; and Salil Chaturvedi, Director, Provogue and Prozone, discussed the entry level challenges that global retail CEOs could face while investing in the Indian market.

The panel concluded that coping with huge Indian diversity was the biggest challenge. Other challenges that were discussed by the panelists included supply chain management and real estate. Discussing on the emerging retail spaces, a seven-member panel talked about the scope of increasing retail spaces within the premises of airports, railway stations, petrol pumps, hospitals, education institutions, post offices, banks and rural communities.

S Shriram, Manager, Commercial Centre, BIAL, explained that 15 per cent of passengers were family members, and that there was an opportunity for marketers to open more shops within the airport premises. While S Samant, CGM, Department of Post, GOI, revealed his departments’ plans to commercialise their space for retail activities, Suraj Chaudhry, ED, HPCL, explained how his company had utilised its petrol pump space for providing a mix of services to the consumers. Film director Prakash Jha, who owns a number of retail shops in Bihar and Jharkhand, explained the scope of retail in rural areas, particularly in these two states.

Also see:

India Retail Forum 2007: ‘Customers are the best teachers, they will take care of you in the long run’

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