Written By Varuni Khosla
NEW DELHI: Black Friday sale is catching up in India, with a spectrum of brands betting on the US ‘shopping day’ to lure discount-hungry consumers to make that impulsive purchase they’d been resisting.
Many brands and retailers both offline and online, including H&M, Myntra, Shoppers Stop, Canali and RealMe are offering up to 50% discount on select products across their range for three days.
At Palladium Mall in Mumbai, Reliance Brands-owned Canali, Salvatore Ferragamo, Emporio Armani, Brooks Brothers and Hugo Boss are offering up to 40% discount, while Aldo Shoes is giving flat 50% off. H&M is offering 20% off on everything on sale, industry insiders said.
Many firms including beauty brands The Body Shop, Kiko Milano and Forest Essentials, and clothing companies Gap, Ajio and Myntra have put together quick shopping offers, while some such as Shoppers Stop are running a countdown on their website. Being Human is offering flat 25% discount.
Black Friday, or the Friday after the Thanksgiving Day in the US, is regarded as the beginning of Christmas shopping season there. Many stores offer huge discounts and open very early, some even at midnight or the previous evening.
Indian marketers offering Black Friday deals is part of their efforts to reduce their dependence on the Dussehra and Diwali shopping peak that used to account for 50-70% of the year’s sales, said Devangshu Dutta, CEO at consulting firm Third Eyesight. “With modern retail distribution channels and high fixed costs, companies want to flatten out these peak seasons as much as possible,” he said. To do this, retailers create many events around which customer footfalls are induced to push slow moving .
“The Indian consumer has become smart and has by and large figured out what the discount pattern is and delays their purchases till then,” Dutta said. “While retailers and brands blame consumers for being price sensitive, they themselves create these events.”
Some marketers consider Black Friday a “business occasion” to acquire new customers while some others use the occasion to push fresh merchandise sales before winter sales kick in around December 20.
“As a retailer we look at this business occasion to acquire new customers since deals are irresistible,” said Tushar Ved, president of Major Brands that operated international brands such as Bath and Body Works, Aldo, La Senza and Promod in the country.
Pushpa Bector, executive director at DLF Shopping Malls, said some brands in the company’s malls in Delhi-NCR and Chandigarh have seen 15-20% upward swing in sales during Black Friday. “We have seen a good response for a couple of years and the concept is here to stay,” she said.
Poor Diwali performance and increasing competition from ecommerce platforms that are always offering some or the other discounts, too, are pushing offline retailers and brands to look for a reason to go on sale, experts said.
“Some companies want to liquidate their winter stock which is possibly 6-12 months old,” said Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO at the popular Select Citywalk Mall in Delhi. “Since India has no concept of outlet malls where brands can recover their money, they discount nearly 70% of their stock in this sale,” he said.
“It’s like a herd mentality and no brand wants to lose out, even though less than two weeks from now winter sales kick in,” Sharma said.
There is usually some mystery around Black Friday offers in the US as many brands don’t reveal them till the last minute.
“In India, too, we have witnessed much enthusiasm for Black Friday,” said Abhishek Bhattacharya, country director at Kiko Milano India. “We give an open hand to the customer to choose any product and we expect the sales to grow 4x along with acquiring new customers base.”
One retailer said even those brands that had no plans to offer any special deal are forced into it because every other brand is offering some or the other scheme.
Himself vegetarian, Jaipuria’s RJ Corp is banking on the KFC franchise game to bring in big business over the next decade
Written By MANU BALACHANDRAN
Ravi Jaipuria, Chairman, RJ Corp
Image: Amit Verma
Ravi Kant Jaipuria has always been a vegetarian. It’s been the family tradition, and Jaipuria didn’t want to deviate from that. At his palatial home in tony Lutyens’ Delhi, where he hosts legendary Holi parties, Jaipuria never serves non-vegetarian food.
But business and personal sentiments are poles apart, and nobody knows it better than the 64-year-old. That’s why, two decades ago, he set out to serve non-vegetarian food to millions of Indians, much to the disdain of his father. Today, his company Devyani International owns nearly 400, or 70 percent of, KFC outlets in India.
“Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing,” says Jaipuria. “I don’t know. My father was very proud of me except for this. I was very close to my father, so I don’t feel great about it.”
Despite the remorse, Jaipuria is also well aware that the next phase of growth for his business empire will come from selling fried chicken to Indians. So, apart from planning an IPO for Devyani International next year, Jaipuria is busy plotting strategies to increase the number of stores across the country, from highways to malls. “The growth is going to be unprecedented. We are already talking about opening between 50 and 100 restaurants a year in India. So, to open another three to four hundred KFC outlets over the next few years isn’t something out of the blue,” Jaipuria says.
Already, in June, Jaipuria bought out 61 stores from Yum! Brands, KFC’s parent company. “KFC is going to be our lead brand,” he reiterates. Besides, his Devyani International also owns franchise rights for the pizza chain Pizza Hut, and coffeehouse Costa Coffee. Jaipuria claims to own over 420 Pizza Hut outlets, nearly 80 percent of the number in the country. Besides him, Sapphire Foods remains the only other franchisee for KFC and Pizza Hut in India. The group also has proprietorship of other food outlets, including popular south Indian fast food chain Vaango and Foodie’s Bar, the lounge.
The billionaire’s big bet on KFC also comes at a time when he has already scaled up his beverage business, which forms the foundation of his business empire. Varun Beverages, owned by RJ Corp, is PepsiCo’s largest bottler in India, controlling 94 percent of all the bottling for the cola major. Varun is also PepsiCo’s second biggest bottler globally, and, this year, Jaipuria has bought out the bottling franchise rights for the southern and western Indian markets from PepsiCo, in a deal worth nearly `2,000 crore. With that, Jaipuria controls over 90 percent of PepsiCo’s bottling business in India.
“As far as the Indian market for Pepsi goes, it is well set right now,” says Jaipuria, who presides over the $1.7 billion RJ Corp and is ranked 53 on the 2019 Forbes India Rich List, rising 22 spots from last year. His business empire which he runs through RJ Corp includes carbonated beverages, ice-cream, fast food, schools, real estate, retail, and health care.
“God has been kind,” Jaipuria says about being on the Rich List. Yet, had it not been for a personal tragedy three decades ago, fate would perhaps have charted a different path.
The Jaipuria family is among the pioneers in the cola bottling business. Ravi’s father, Chunni Lal Jaipuria, and his uncle Mahavir Prasad Jaipuria were textile traders and, in the 1960s, Chunni Lal became a franchisee for bottling Coca-Cola in the country. However, with Coke exiting in 1977, the family shifted to Thums Up. Jaipuria, meanwhile, went to study in New York, and eventually settled down in Montreal.
“I lived there for about 12 years,” Jaipuria says. “As a kid, I enjoyed the western part of the world. I got married and settled down. I was quite happy, and things were going well until the Kanishka bombing in 1985.” Jaipuria’s wife was on board Air India flight 182 that exploded mid-air due to bombs planted by Canadian Sikh militants, killing over 300 passengers.
With a young daughter and son to look after, Jaipuria shifted base to India in 1987. His father, meanwhile, split the bottling business between his three brothers, with Jaipuria getting the Agra plant. He continued to bottle for Thums Up, while also dabbling in an apparel export business.
In 1991, as India embarked upon a new economic policy, and Pepsi decided to foray into India, Jaipuria knew he had to move on from Thums Up. “I think the trigger was that Thums Up had about 40 or 50 bottlers. Our territory and the growth opportunity was limited,” he says. Pepsi, with its international presence and financial muscle, made sense for Jaipuria in his quest to expand the business.
The rest is history. After winning franchise rights for the central Uttar Pradesh (UP) territory, Varun Beverages, named after Jaipuria’s son, expanded to Rajasthan and western UP. “We had a good team and were always able to do well wherever we went,” he says. Since then, Jaipuria believes that Varun Beverages has acquired a new territory every year or every alternate year, and in the process ramped up its plant count to 36. “We practically own between 93 percent and 94 percent of Pepsi’s India bottling business,” Jaipuria says.
Today, he has expanded Varun Beverages to five other countries including Morocco, Zimbabwe, and Nepal. “It’s a great business,” Jaipuria says. “We are doing extremely well and to get additional territories is not easy. You have to pay a huge price. But Pepsi has been very supportive. We have grown the market for them. It’s a two-way partnership.”
This year, Jaipuria intends to consolidate the business, especially since he bought out newer territories, and in the process added 11 more plants. Jaipuria paid the entire cost through a mix of internal accruals and a qualified institutional placement. “As you grow old, you also become a little averse to taking on debt,” he says.
While Jaipuria kept expanding his beverage venture, an opportunity had turned up in the fast food business. In 1997, he took on the franchise rights for Yum! Brands, then part of PepsiCo restaurants, that included KFC and Pizza Hut. Through Devyani International, named after his daughter, Jaipuria began to scale up the restaurant business and today has over 900 restaurants under its umbrella. However, that foray came at a cost: Disapproval from his vegetarian father. “I could never convince him. He was never happy with it. I made him meet the chairman of Yum! and the only thing he said was I wish he could sell it and give the money to charity,” Jaipuria says.
But, even the strain at home couldn’t stop him. “For me, it was a business. I said as long as I am continuing with my tradition and not doing it myself, how does it matter,” Jaipuria says. Today, however, he would have taken a different route, had the opportunity come along. “I mean if I had crossed 64 years of my life without doing this business, then maybe I would have crossed the remaining without doing it,” he says.
Jaipuria is clear about the direction Devyani will take over the next years. Apart from the proposed IPO, it is busy renting entire food courts at malls, instead of just focussing on a few shops, to accommodate all its brands. “And if the mall says they want a different brand too, we will take the franchise for that,” Jaipuria says. That apart, he sees a massive potential in the highways space, where there is a severe shortage of food and refreshment options.
But even as he goes about expanding other brands, KFC remains Jaipuria’s trump card. “If you look at KFC, it is the only brand with no competition. You look at burgers, McDonald’s has Burger King or Carl’s Jr, Pizza Hut has Dominos’ or Pizza Express. But KFC has no competition.” He cites the example of China, where until 15 years ago, there were about 400 outlets, whereas today it is opening 600 to 700 outlets a year. Jaipuria also sees huge potential in emerging markets like Nigeria, where he holds the franchise rights for KFC.
“There is definitely an underlying growth trend that is driven by a change in lifestyles, and an increasing orientation to brands and standardisation of experience,” says Devangshu Dutta, the chief executive of consultancy firm, Third Eyesight. “A QSR [quick service restaurant] meal could be a regular feature for younger consumers who don’t cook regularly at home, or consumers who are travelling for work or leisure, and that means there is a steady growth of QSRs.”
Besides Devyani and Varun, Jaipuria is also looking to expand his fledgling medical business: Diagno Labs, a medical diagnostics venture, and Cryoviva, a stem cell storage business largely set up due to his proximity to Naresh Trehan, the founder of Medanta. Jaipuria claims Cryoviva has been quite successful in Thailand and Singapore. “We are number one in Thailand and number two in Singapore,” he says.
While he had also dabbled in the retail store category, by setting up J Mart, he shut that down. “We didn’t have the expertise,” Jaipuria admits. However, he continues to bet on the ice cream and dairy category, where he operates the Cream Bell brand, both in India and abroad. “It’s done extremely well for us,” Jaipuria says.
But, has the economic slowdown affected him? “Of course not,” says Jaipuria. He reasons out that the past year has been a fabulous one for the group. “We have seen one of the fastest growth phases after a long time,” says Jaipuria. Much of that, he believes, is due to an improving electrification across India. “The power situation is improving in many rural parts of the country,” says Jaipuria. “For example, in UP there used to be no power supply for 16 to 18 hours. You can’t sell a warm soft drink. Now that there is power, it is helping us penetrate deeper.”
He also sees a potential in the vast untapped market that comes with low consumption of soft drinks in the country. India’s soft drinks consumption stood at 44 bottles per capita in 2016, significantly lower than US, where the per-capita consumption is 1,496 bottles, according to a report by Varun Beverages. In Mexico, the consumption was 1,489 bottles per capita while in developing markets such as Brazil, it stood at 537 bottles.
“There’s only one way to go, and that is up,” Jaipuria says. Along the way, having become Pepsi’s largest bottler, Jaipuria has also managed to rewrite their agreements, allowing Varun Beverages a better say in the running of the cola company. “Now we are running the country, so they have to listen to us. If I’m not happy about something. I won’t launch it,” Jaipuria says. As for Varun Beverages, he sees a tripling of revenue over the next five years. “If you look at Varun Beverages’ history, we have tripled the top line and the bottom line every five years. I’m going to try and do that again.”
In FY2019, Varun Beverages had revenue of ₹3,862 crore, while net profits rose to ₹332 crore compared to ₹235 crore the previous year. Since the company went public in 2016, Varun Beverages has also more than doubled its market capitalisation that stood at ₹18,375 crore in October 2019.
As for Devyani, the targets are pretty clear. “When you look at soft drinks, the growth is organic. In the food business, particularly KFC, if I’m able to open another hundred outlets every year, the old and the new stores will grow at the same time,” Jaipuria says.
Experts agree that Jaipuria is on the right track. “The market is overall significantly under-penetrated by QSR chains,” says Dutta of Third Eyesight. “Growth is an outcome of a combination of factors: Growing demand aggregation in more centres, improved connectivity that makes logistics and management significantly easier, and improved electrification that helps maintain temperature control, vital for product quality, consistency and avoiding waste. The growth of highways and rest-stops will help increase QSR outlets, and the share of QSR chains in the market. Given India’s diversity of tastes and cuisines, a mix of formats, brands and menus will be a favourable factor for the Jaipuria group.”
So, where does Jaipuria want to take RJ Corp from here? “We are not going to get into any new business for the time,” he says. “We are going to grow our existing business. We’ll look at a few other countries to expand for Pepsi. As for the food business, we’re not looking at too many countries as such, because there is still huge growth potential in India.”
All that means is Jaipuria has no plans to hang up his boots anytime soon. But he will not move at a breakneck speed either. Every year, he takes a week or two off for a spa to relax. “I think I want to take it easy,” he says. “I’m travelling for 20 days a month. I’m going to slow down and I am also grooming my son. In the next few years he should be able to take care of the business.”
As for setting targets, though, Jaipuria has one more. “My birthday is coming up next month. I want to lose a few kilos before that.”
Simran Lal and Raul Rai’s Nicobar stands with a distinct identity among home-grown fashion and lifestyle labels through a blend of Indian sensibilities with functional aesthetic.
Written By DEBOJYOTI GHOSH
Simran Lal and Raul Rai, founders, Nicobar.
When Simran Lal and Raul Rai—co-founders of the fashion and lifestyle brand Nicobar—celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary recently, the two had a rather insightful chat. “Simran asked me to rate how the past 12 years have been. My reaction was, let’s keep it upbeat,” Rai says with a laugh.
“She [Simran] wanted both of us to point out 12 things that stand out in our minds in the past years as a couple and why. And how we would like our next 12 years to be like together. I said it’s a bit of a risky plan,” Rai laughingly admits, but he is fully aware that even on a professional level, the husband-wife duo maintains a similar approach: long-term perspective. In the past three-and-a-half years, the couple has built Nicobar with a distinct identity among home-grown fashion and lifestyle labels, blending Indian sensibilities with functional aesthetic. The New Delhi-based brand has actively engaged with local artisans and the larger design community to build a contemporary product line across fashion, home, and travel accessories.
Harper’s Bazaar India editor Nonita Kalra says the brand embodies the contemporary aesthetic of India. “It is rooted in heritage, but is in equal parts playful and hyper creative. Your classics come with a twist. It is all these things that work in its favour. Plus its pricing is just aspirational enough to know you are getting top quality,” says Kalra. Today, Nicobar has 15 stores across the country, including four pop-up stores [temporary storefront space] in New Delhi and an active online platform contributing 25% to its total sales. The business also has a strong overseas presence, shipping merchandise to more than 200 countries.
Rai is clear about building the brand and scaling up. “In my view, Nicobar will be more than 10x-20x its size over time, but it could happen either in five years or 10 years. I am in no hurry,” says the 50-year-old co-founder and CEO. Rai does not disclose the financials of the company, but he reveals that the company does about 250 orders a day across categories, with an average order value in the range of ₹6,000-₹7,000. It typically sells about 800-900 products a day, including all its stores and the online platform.
Nicobar store at Chanakya Mall, Delhi.
Each of Nicobar’s stores reflects the brand’s aesthetic: minimal, simple, and modern.
According to financial documents filed with the Registrar of Companies, Nicobar Design Pvt. Ltd recorded a loss of ₹3.2 crore, while its total revenue stood at ₹7.2 crore for the period between June 5, 2017, and March 31, 2018. However, Nicobar is aiming to break-even during the October-December quarter this year. “We will generate money. We want to grow it profitably. We have had profitable months in the past,” says Rai, pointing out that it takes ₹50 crore-₹75 crore over a period of about five years to build a business of this nature.
Nicobar was launched under the Lal family-owned entity Eicher Goodearth Pvt. Ltd, which also owns retail chain Good Earth, one of India’s most successful luxury lifestyle brands. Good Earth was founded by Lal’s mother Anita Lal over two decades ago.
The Lal family’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1948 when Goodearth Company was set up by Lal’s grandfather (Man Mohan Lal) to sell and service imported tractors. He later partnered with German firm Eicher to venture into tractor manufacturing. In the 1960s, her father Vikram Lal joined the family business and in the early 1980s it was named Eicher Goodearth. The billionaire Lal family owns automobile company Eicher Motors Limited (EML), the maker of popular motorcycle brand Royal Enfield.
Eicher Motors nearly sold off Enfield because of its mounting losses until Lal’s brother Siddhartha Lal turned around the company’s flagship motorcycle business in the late 1990s when he was in his twenties. For FY19, EML posted a net profit of ₹2,203 crore on a revenue of ₹9,797 crore from the motorcycle business alone. Despite Lal’s enviable business lineage, she says she never saw herself as an entrepreneur. “I stumbled upon it and since then have tried to learn and grow,” Lal says. “But today I do see myself as a creative entrepreneur.
After finishing a master’s in art history at Bangalore University, she did a product development course at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and joined her mother’s venture in 2002. She worked in different capacities, streamlining the supply chain and merchandising operations of the retail business, before becoming the CEO. Today, Good Earth has 10 stores across the country and retail partnerships in Turkey’s Ankara, Singapore, and China with a presence across the fashion, home, and wellness categories. Rai learnt the fundamentals of business during his days in investment banking and private equity. The Harvard Business School graduate’s stints at Goldman Sachs and General Atlantic in New York and London taught him the importance of mentorship, culture, and long-term focus.
Nicobar store at Chanakya Mall, Delhi.
When the couple was planning Nicobar, the challenge was to create a signature different from Good Earth for it. It was a busy time for Lal. She was running Good Earth and “was launching Nicobar simultaneously”. “Good Earth… was the culmination of all the years of learning. Then of course came Nicobar with all its madness as a startup with large dreams. It was a time of growth, change, and multitasking. Apart from co-founding it, I was the creative director of the brand which was very energising,” says the 48-year-old.
Today, Lal has her hands full as she juggles her work commitments across brands. Last year, Good Earth launched Paro, its sub-brand focussing on well-being and personal care. Paro is set to open a wellness retreat in the Himalayas soon. Despite being from the same stable, industry experts say Good Earth and Nicobar look nothing like each other. “If you didn’t know they have the same background it would be impossible to say that they have anything in common,” adds Kalra. Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, concurs. “Nicobar has a different position from Good Earth because the product profile is quite distinct. A consumer isn’t concerned about whether brands have common ownership and, if so, whether they should look alike or different.” Dutta feels each brand needs to ensure that it is distinctive, relevant to its target consumer group, and consistent in its brand attributes, be it product, pricing, store ambience, service, or communication.
Today, each of Nicobar’s stores reflects the brand’s aesthetic: minimal, simple, and modern. While it is headquartered in South Delhi’s Chattarpur, it opened its first store spread over an area of 2,000 sq. ft. in March 2016 in Mumbai’s artsy Kala Ghoda area that houses galleries, cafes, boutiques, and designer stores in renovated heritage buildings.
The India diaspora across the world is a potential catchment…the challenge here is to workout the systems and logistics to ensure timely availability and service at a reasonable cost.
The brand’s flagship 2,700-sq. ft. store is located in The Chanakya, a luxury mall in New Delhi. While the investment in setting up a store varies based on the location, rentals, and others factors, Rai explains that a store with a size of about 1,500 sq. ft. would cost between `50 lakh and `1 crore. The couple laid the groundwork for Nicobar a year and a half prior to the launch of its first store. It started putting together a team from 2014. Rai and Lal spent the first three months meeting candidates to get the right team. After 250 meetings, nine were hired.
Aparna Chandra, design head (clothing) at Nicobar, says when Lal and Rai met her to discuss her joining the team, they said they were trying to create a brand that would be spearheaded by conscious design and constant improvement. “The brief was to create beautiful, functional pieces. When they asked if I would do Nicobar, I said yes almost immediately. Their style sensibility and ethos was right up my alley: simple, clean, relaxed. I knew that they were the ones I wanted to do this with,” says Chandra.
Besides Chandra, the core team includes Divya Kapoor, design head for the travel vertical, and Arya Nerker, who heads design for the home segment. Kapoor has worked with British home-furnishings retailer Cath Kidston and London’s Selfridges prior to Nicobar; Nerker has spent a considerable part of her career as a brand and home designer for Good Earth. Nicobar is mindful of its sourcing, using more of sustainable fabrics and materials such as organic cotton, bamboo, and tencel (cellulose fibre found in wood pulp). Currently, its warehouses are 85% plastic-free. The company is looking to double its footprint over the next two-three years, adding four-five stores a year. It is also not ruling out international expansion. “We always wanted to create a culture and a brand for the long term. Rooted in India, yet globally relevant,” says Rai.
Dutta points out that Indian brands tend to get pushed into niches but as the number of customers that are both discerning and have the ability to spend grow, home-grown brands will get better traction to scale. “The Indian diaspora across the world is a potential catchment, especially through online platforms and apps. The challenge here is to work out the systems and logistics to ensure timely availability and service at a reasonable cost,” he says.
Being around each other all day long has only helped strengthen the bond between the entrepreneurial couple. “There is huge trust and respect. That is the foundation.” For many, bringing work home is a huge no-no. In Lal and Rai’s case, there’s no escaping it. “Since we are spouses, the danger is to carry home issues from work. We do that sometimes and it gets stressful,” says Lal. “However, for the most part we have managed quite well.”
This story was originally published in the November 2019 issue of the magazine.
Written By Rasul Bailay
NEW DELHI: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, will visit India in January when he is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During his visit he will kick off the US retailer’s annual event around small and medium enterprises, which are perceived to be hurt by deep-pocketed ecommerce companies.
The world’s largest online retailer is said to be worried about the changing ecommerce rules in India, where the Seattle-based company has invested more than $5 billion and created one of its largest foreign subsidiaries.
Bezos comes calling amid protests by a group of small traders against foreign-funded ecommerce companies. The Amazon founder is expected to highlight that it is generating jobs in India and empowering SMEs and other small businesses, according to two people familiar with the matter. He will also raise aspects such as stable business environment and policy continuity for foreign companies, they said.
“We do not have any plans to share at present for this,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed response to a questionnaire regarding Bezos’ upcoming visit.
The outcry against ecommerce companies escalated after the Diwali festive season, when small traders accused Flipkart and Amazon of “unfair business practices” and violation of foreign direct investment rules. They blamed the predatory pricing strategies of the two foreign-owned marketplaces for a slump in traditional retail business during Diwali.
Flipkart and Amazon generated combined sales of Rs. 31,000 crore ($4.3 billion) during the 15-day festival period in October, according to a report by Red Seer Consulting.
The government has been stepping up its scrutiny of Amazon and its India rival Flipkart over their compliance with India’s foreign direct investment laws for ecommerce marketplaces.
The commerce ministry had asked Amazon and Flipkart to furnish details including their shareholding, subsidiaries, business structure and information on their top sellers and their tax details.
Amazon and Flipkart have responded to the questions raised by the government and maintain that they are in full compliance with FDI legislation.
“It is a huge distraction for us,” a senior ecommerce executive said, asking not to be identified. Amazon has reasons to be nervous. The US giant considers India its fastest-growing market with a potential to reach $10 billion in gross merchandise value and outpace the UK, Germany and Japan as its largest overseas subsidiary. In October, Amazon pumped in Rs. 2,800 crore into the flagship Amazon, in marketplace after injecting Rs. 9,450 crore in the unit last year.
So far, Amazon has invested more than $5 billion in India. “The various twists and turns in policies and caveats over the years have created ambiguity and room for interpretation as to what is allowed under the ambit of foreign investment,” said Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight.
“If any foreign-owned or foreigninvested entity is operating in the fuzzy zones of policy and law, there is bound to be concern. ‘Interpretation’ is a double-edged sword — on the plus-side it can give businesses strategy flexibility, but the downside is that government officials can also interpret it strictly.”
In October, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon had written to Modi, seeking certainty and a predictable business environment in India.
Last year, Walmart had purchased Flipkart, India’s largest ecommerce entity, for $16 billion, bringing the US adversaries to a direct fight over market share in the nation’s burgeoning online retailing market.
Following Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart, India amended the FDI rules for online marketplaces in December, plugging many holes that Amazon and Flipkart are alleged to have misused. Opponents of foreign-funded ecommerce accuse both the global titans of virtually running inventory-led ecommerce, which India bars.
The legislation called Press Note 2 restricted bulk purchases by any vendor from any entity or group company of marketplace to 25%. The rules banned any financial affiliate of the marketplace operator from selling on such platforms. These changes came as blows to Amazon and Flipkart as they either sold through partner entities or through independent vendors that sourced directly from wholesale units related to the FDI-funded
By 2022, the company hopes to have 2,000 operational stores. Interestingly, two thirds of these will be located in the tier III, IV, V and VI towns, in the smaller retail format — The Mini Raymond Shop.
Written By Venkata Susmita Biswas
Merchandising in the smaller stores will veer towards affordable price points.
Raymond recently demerged its lifestyle business comprising branded apparel, branded textile and garmenting from its other businesses namely, FMCG, realty, auto components, and tools and hardware, to “unlock the potential of its textile and apparel business”.
The company has been trying to make the nearly-100-year-old brand more relevant to younger consumers. Apart from launching a ready-to-wear range, shoes, accessories and a premium service called Raymond Made to Measure over the last five years, Raymond has recently added ethnic wear and athleisure to its offerings.
The company has been rapidly expanding its retail footprint, claiming to open “nearly one store a day”. “We have doubled our retail footprint in the last five years, going from just 750 stores in 2014 to 1,500 stores today,” says Sanjay Behl, CEO – lifestyle business, Raymond.