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Q&A: Rakesh Biyani, CEO, Retail, Future Group

'We are targeting the next generation'

Rakesh Biyani
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Many regard the as the pioneer of modern retail in India. But the Biyanis, the family behind the behemoth, are not content. They want more and innovative stores. , cousin to founder Kishore and chief executive of the retail operations, tells Priyanka Singh how the plans are unfolding. Edited excerpts:

How aggressive are you on niche stores?
Of late, we have developed niche stores like Headquarters for men’s formal wear, Ethnicity for women’s casual wear, and Planet Sports for sportswear. We keep coming with different concepts to give specialised and tailored products to suit different kinds of customers. In line with our focus on revamping the stores and shopping experience, we are also working on other concepts for selling.

You are mostly a big-city phenomenon. Would you spread into semi-urban and rural India?
Our focus would be on the top seven cities in India. We already have 10 stores in Delhi, 10 in Mumbai, and five in Kolkata. We have stores in Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Siliguri and Allahabad. We are opening 50 more stores, of which half would be in the metros and the rest in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. We are ready to open stores in all destinations where we feel there will be good acceptance and response. I guess the destination has still not arrived in semi-urban and rural India to that extent because of poor connectivity and infrastructure.

What kind of stores and locations are you are looking for as you expand?
Around 18 projects have taken off the ground and 12 still need to be signed. We are yet to identify 20-odd stores across India. We are looking at space of 25,000-30,000 sq ft each. We are open to the idea of standalone stores, high-street outlets, like we have in Connaught Place and South Extension in Delhi, and also malls. We target the young, high-spending customers with our renovated stores. These have to be in metros and Tier-II and III cities.

How different would these stores be from the earlier ones?
About 85 per cent of the products would be of the brand and the other 15 per cent from other licensed brands. We are targeting the next generation. We can nowadays see a lot more youngsters frequenting our stores. With the advent of the internet and other media, the consumer has become much more aware and choosy.

Our effort is to give them all contemporary global trends at the same time, under one roof and at the most affordable prices. With the decision to revamp the stores, the company aims to provide international shopping experience to customers. The creative and high-class interiors coupled with aesthetic ambience, will give our customers a great feel, apart from value for money.

Do you also plan to go overseas?
Not as of now. Our primary focus is the Indian markets. For the next five years, we are planning to expand our portfolio to about 100 Pantaloon stores, with renovated interiors and international shopping experience.

How much money has Future Group earmarked for the expansion?
In three-four years, the Group plans to open 50 more new Pantaloons’ stores in both metro and non-metro cities. The Future Group is, as always, prudent in its investment and the funds for these new stores will be part of the Rs 2,100-crore investments earmarked for the retail group’s expansion.

Is an acquisition or a tie-up on the cards?
Nothing has been decided or planned, as of now.

What are the financial projections for Pantaloon?
Pantaloon Retail India had posted a turnover of Rs 2,581.4 crore in the quarter ended September, as compared to Rs 1,954.2 crore last year. Net profit was Rs 42.8 crore, as against Rs 26.3 crore in the year-ago period. We are quite happy, seeing that we have been able to meet our customers’ fashion demand. We have done quite well during the festival time. As the festival season started late this time, the September quarter does not show those numbers. We expect 35-40 per cent growth by the end of December.

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