As fears over swine flu spread across India, its effect is gradually being seen in the retail sector as well. Kishore Biyani, chief executive officer, Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd, said in an interview that his company saw some impact on sales in Pune and Mumbai. He, however, also said that the firm aimed to achieve at least 30% growth in revenue this year. Edited excerpts:
What’s your sense of how this sales season will be, given that there is a swine flu scare going on?
We had much bigger plans and we are much organized this time. We had a lot of stock and a lot of collaborative approach with the manufacturers, but we have some impact in Pune, none of our stores is closed except one store in Pimpri (in Pune district).
We are seeing decent business, but not crowd as we normally see…, but we are still expecting a sale of about Rs250 crore and whatever our yesterday’s number suggests, we are on track.
So you don’t see any big dip this time around year-on-year because of the kind of footfalls that have been happening?
We had about 6-8% lower sales in Mumbai than what we had expected. Pune was less than 20% but we have 116 overall stores in the country. The northern, southern and eastern region have done more than expectations and we have balanced out in that sense.
I believe that you had indicated to investors that you are gunning for a 16-17% same-store growth in FY10. Are you on track for that kind of an aggressive growth target?
We are looking at close to 30% growth and not 16-17%, so we are looking at 3.5-4 million sq. ft of expansion as a group in this fiscal year and that will contribute to some growth and also growth will happen out of same-store sales growth.
So we are confident of 30% growth, not same-store, but overall growth in terms of revenue.
How much would be same-store sales growth within that?
We are planning double digits this year, so let’s see. Now, the economy looks better and things are much better when we started. I think we are quite positive looking now to achieve double-digit numbers, we are not seeing major growth in the large-ticket items as yet but things are getting to some levels out there also.
Your board is meeting on Monday for fund-raising. What looks like will come out of that meeting, what will you decide on, broadly how much and through what kind of instruments?
There is no specific agenda of any fund raising in this as this is the quarterly meeting that we are having. We have already taken resolutions earlier in terms of various realignment programmes as well as other fund raising initiatives. So we are looking at another six-eight weeks to close on to something and looking at various options.
So it might be a private equity sale because names like Carlyle, Blackstone, etc., have been mentioned or you will go the QIP (qualified institutional placement) route?
We are looking at many options and we are not closed or firm on a particular option. So, as soon as it happens, I will be the first one to comment on that.