Customer demand should rebound strongly, possibly from the second quarter onwards, said Trent Chairman Noel N Tata, though he remained "cautiously optimistic" on the medium-term outlook.
With growth drivers such as favourable demographics, increasing per capita and disposable income, and growing consumption, India is expected to return to a strong growth trajectory, despite uncertainty over near-term outlook, he added.
Trent will continue to focus on building out differentiated brands and accelerating its reach through stores and digital platforms, said Tata in the latest annual report of Trent Ltd - the Tata Group's retail arm.
"While we cannot predict how quickly we will see the back of this crisis, there is a reason to believe that we will see a transition out of this pandemic phase. And when it does abate, customer demand should rebound strongly, possibly starting in the second quarter," he said.
Tata further said he is "confident" that the business has the "expertise and importantly the resilience to weather" this crisis.
After the second wave of the pandemic post-March 2021, Trent which operates stores such as Westside, Zudio, Utsa and Landmark were either temporarily shut or were operational, albeit with certain restrictions.
Additionally, the opening of 34 stores (Westside and Zudio) under fitouts were impacted in March and April 2021.
"Our expectation is for resumption of economic activity in phases and gradual return of normalcy over the next few months, as we experienced in 2020," Tata added.
The company expects certain of its prospective store locations to face temporary challenges in timely construction/ opening.
While talking about the retail industry, Trent said FY21 was a challenging year for Indian retail with extended and intermittent lockdowns.
"Nevertheless, the sector is seen to be poised for strong growth over the medium to long term," it said.
The key drivers for growth include growing urbanisation, participation of women in workforce, rising disposable income, discretionary spending along with increasing aspirations, fashion consciousness and brand awareness.
Trent further said e-commerce and the growing influence of social media due to wide availability of smartphones and high-speed internet would also help the retail sector to grow.
"We believe that India continues to be amongst the most attractive retail markets globally with its strong demographics and growing consumption. These factors shall continue to play out over medium to long term. Overall, we are very positive on the underlying case for sustained growth of branded retailing in India over the coming years," said Trent in its outlook.
According to it, pandemic related restrictions brought about a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour as it hastened adoption of digital shopping methods.
"The Indian e-commerce market penetration is expected to increase as total gross merchandise value is expected to grow from USD 60 billion in 2020 to USD 99 billion by 2024," said Trent quoting industry reports.
It is following this fast-growing space with an "accelerated pursuit" of a sustainable online business model and digital connect with target audience.
"We are confident that following this unprecedented pause, our growth and profitability will continue to accelerate on the back of sustained focus on differentiated brands & customer experience across our concepts and strong expansion of the store network in the years ahead," it said.
It will continue to pursue growth by leveraging our association with Tata Cliq and its two websites.
"We will continue to pursue our store expansion agenda. We remain committed to resolving related challenges and pursuing accelerated expansion. We also continue to monitor existing stores and refresh the portfolio through multiple initiatives including absorption/ refurbishment of brand diluting stores," it said.
Trent has reported a consolidated revenue of Rs 2,592.96 crore for FY21, which is 25 per cent down from Rs 3,485.98 crore of FY20.
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