Having faced opposition from small vendors and shopkeepers in Uttar Pradesh and Orissa to its retail outlets, Reliance Industries assured them Monday the retail operations by the company would in no way jeopardise their interests, but would rather provide better services to consumers.
“We are sensitive to the interest of small shopkeepers. Our retail initiative will in no way jeopardise their interests and that of small vendors who service consumers. In fact, our initiative will enable them improve their income and serve consumers better,” RIL CMD Mukesh Ambani said at the company’s 33rd Annual General Meeting in Mumbai.
He said organised retail would gain momentum once the common man and farmers fully understand the benefit of the initiative.
“There have been concerns in some quarters on the roll-out of the organised retail initiative. These concerns have sensitised Reliance to enhance the level of engagement and inclusiveness with all constituents,” he said.
“Our organised retail initiative is configured to increase income in the hands of farmers and serve consumers by improving supply chain and distribution efficiency. We want to achieve these twin goals by reducing wastage,” he said.
Mukesh said organised retail would also generate significant employment opportunities – both full-time and flexible time – particularly in rural India, for those who are weak on employability.
Though he did not spell out the company’s plans in the retail sector but said it was committed to what it had set out to achieve.
Mukesh said the company’s initiative of bringing high quality tissue cultured banana plants, has improved the production of the ‘poor man’s fruit’ in states like, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. “Reliance directly buys these bananas from farmers at prices that are 10-15 per cent higher than what they get through conventional channels, apart from having correct weight,” he said.
Reliance Retail, which has 6,000 professionals on its rolls, has opened 300 stores in 30 cities and 12 states, since its launch in November 2006 in the pilot phase.
It has also opened speciality stores focused on consumer durables and information technology products and apparels- called Reliance Digital and Reliance Trends, respectively.
In addition, the company has opened country’s largest hypermarket, RelianceMart, spread over 165,000 sq ft in Ahmedabad.