The session titled “Big Box Retailing,” held on day one of the East India Retail Summit (EIRS) 2013 had eminent panelists including Arup Dutta, Raad Consulting Partners; Sumit Suneja, Best Seller; PS Rajeev, Arvind Group; Pallavi Basu, Fabindia; G Nataraj, PVR; and N. Sathiyanarayanan, Lifestyle International.
The session revolved around Big Box Retailing in terms of understanding it through five key terms– dissidence, size/design, attractive, virgin market, and underestimated.
The moderator, Dutta, asked the panelists whether East India retail market is expanding or consolidating. Answering the question, Basu said that East India means not only Kolkata but also Guwahati ,Siliguri, etc. It is all a matter of sustaining customer interest and to have the right product, place, and people (PPP) . The biggest challenge, as per him is the sluggish development of a retail place like a mall.
Sathiyanarayanan shared his views on why they opened a store in Quest mall but they had signed the property in 2004 which somehow did not take off/materialise. Lifestyle got an opportunity from outside Kolkata but they waited three years to find the right location until Quest mall happened. Ten years back the company came up with the first store in Delhi in 2002. They currently has 16 stores across India. In his opinion, East India is a great market place, he added.
Throwing his next question at the speakers, Dutta asked why does Kolkata come to mind when we speak of East India in terms of retail business? Sathiyanarayanan stated that there has been a development in North, South, and West regions but the East is behind in terms of such developments.
Nataraj mentioned that aesthetics play a crucial role. Good look-and-feel is a must. There should be a wow factor, he added. “We have less content with the barrier of three languages in East India. Movie watching is not primarily the only thing in the East unlike South. Average seat occupance is 30 to 35 percent,” said Natraj.
Talking about what constitutes big box retailing, Sathiyanarayanan stated: “We need 25,000 sq.ft., in terms of carpet area and 36,000 to 70,000 sq.ft. for a lifestyle store depending upon the market potential. He said: “We need a huge space to represent each category such as footwear household etc. It is not the space but about the category mix in proper propotion that matters. There should be a condusive environment for customers who shop like a family.”
Basu said that there are three categories of product – extremely premium, premium and non premium. Fabindia is conscious about the same and sends only high selling products to its flagship stores. Suneja mentioned that more than the price of the product it is the value of the products that matter.
All the speakers agreed that East India has the potential to have a butterfly beginning. Basu said places like Raipur, Bhuvaneshwar, Patna and Guwahati have the potential to be a butterfly beginner.