South India’s first mega retail event ‘The Shop’, an Images Multimedia event under the auspices of India Retail Forum (IRF), started today in Bangalore with retail stalwarts Bijou Kurien, president & chief executive, Lifestyle, Reliance Retail; Kodandarama Shetty, CMD, Viveks; and Bhaskar Bhat, MD, Titan Industries Limited, addressing the inaugural session. The event focuses on South India’s Rs 250,000-crore retail landscape.
In his inaugural address, Kurien, officiating as the conference chairman, highlighted the various key elements that differentiate South India from the rest of the country and present retailers with unique challenges and opportunities. Historically, South India has been less invaded by foreigners and as a result, the region is more insulated against change than others. Higher literacy rates, lower population growth rates, and higher levels of urbanisation offer tremendous untapped potential for retailers in South India. Kurien also emphasised that the diversity in language and ethnic and cultural practices, as well as higher price and brand sensitivity of customers induce retailers to adopt distinctive retail strategies for different parts of the South.
Kurien highlighted that South India has always been at the forefront of the retail revolution, with several firsts – examples include the largest toy store, Kemp Fort; the largest film city, Ramoji Film City; and even the first mall of the country, Spencer’s Plaza in Chennai. He concluded his address saying that the meet will help in creating better understanding and shaping up of the market that continues to pioneer and set standards – in terms of mall environment, speciality mall concepts, high streets and mega retail spaces. The way forward for the retail sector in India, he said, should be a growth model that is inclusive of unorganised retailers as well.
Kodandarama Shetty outlined how Viveks has, in the span of four decades, grown from a family-run, 400-square-foot store to become one of the largest consumer durables retail chains in the region. Shetty reiterated the huge potential that South India offers to retailers, giving the example of Viveks – the company achieved a turnover of Rs 100 crore in just 105 days last year, which is a stark contrast to the fact its first Rs 100 crore turnover landmark was achieved only after 30 years of operations.
Bhaskar Bhat emphasised that for Titan Industries, retail is an essential service that helps to sustain the brand image at the point of purchase for the customer. Good retail, he said, is a judicious blend of information-led customer management and an attitude to serve. South India, by virtue of its high literacy levels, brand loyalty, and quality consciousness, offers huge potential for retailers.
Bhat also emphasised that backend information management and technology has an important role to play in the growth of the retail segment. Therefore, this is one retail function where the South, by virtue of its developed technology industry, can significantly contribute to the retail industry.
The Shop at Bangalore is the third of a series of IMAGES regional retail forums, the first of which was held in Kolkata.
HE TN Chaturvedi, the governor of Karnataka, will release at the concluding session tomorrow the first-ever book on retail developments in the South, “South India Retail & Realty Report: 2015 & Beyond.”