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    Infrastructure must catch up with retail pace

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    Though business of modern retail is growing at a considerable pace, the elements to support this development, including the overall infrastructure, are not. This is the major issue that concerns all related to the business.

    Indiaretailing quizzed the industry minister, retailers and realtors about their views on the gap between the retail and the infrastructure growth, and found that even as the ministry is talking about commitment to development, retailers are losing customers because of inadequate mobility, while realtors believe that their developments are doing their best to get the infrastructure right.

    Talking to Indiaretailing, April 25, Dr , minister of state for industry, Government of India, said: “The focus of the ministry is on infrastructural development. The government is putting in a lot of investments for infrastructure growth, and in a few years the country will see a better environment for not just retail businesses, but for the entire industry as well.”

    (Watch the minister talking to Indiaretailing at https://www.indiaretailing.com/exclusive/ashwani_kumar.html)

    Nilesh Ved, CEO of Apparel Group, which has introduced premium fashion and lifestyle brands in India, did not seem too happy with the pace of infrastructure growth.

    Discussing the scenario with Indiaretailing, he said, “We lack even the basic infrastructure required for retailing. Starting from the parking at the malls to the roads leading to the shopping malls, nothing seems right. Customers are bound to get frustrated if approach to the mall or even getting in and getting out of the mall is a hassle.”

    Quizzed about the initiatives taken at their end to help infrastructure grow, he said, “Being a retailer, we cannot approach the ministry and ask them to build the right infrastructure, but we do discuss our needs with developers, and they must understand the basics. For instance, developers must know that parking is very essential, and they must strategise it in a way that we can differentiate between a shopper and a jaywalker.”

    Ved admitted that the company wants to introduce many new brands and is also looking at the mass market, but is holding up plans till the betterment of the shopping environment.

    (Watch Ved talking to Indiaretailing at https://www.indiaretailing.com/exclusive/nilesh_ved.html)

    William Bissell, managing director of Fabindia, agreed that infrastructure is responsible for holding back the growth of retail industry. He pointed out key points that, if addressed, will boost business. He said, “The rent control laws for commercial properties have to be repealed, and the government must indicate to the developers what is commercial and what is not. Certain commercial activities should be allowed in residential areas.”

    Bissel also insisted that government should pedestrianise certain parts of cities that have high density of population.

    (Watch Bissell talking to Indiaretailing at https://www.indiaretailing.com/exclusive/william-bissell.html)

    managing director Samir Kukreja expressed his disenchantment with licensing laws. He told Indiaretailing, “Being in the restaurant business, we have to obtain twelve different licenses; the government should rethink this license system. Secondly, there should be a government or semi-government body that monitors the industry closely and forms certain guidelines for the realtors.”

    (Watch Indiareatiling exclusive video with Kukreja at https://www.indiaretailing.com/exclusive/samir_kuckreja.html)

    Putting forth the realtors’ stand on the issue, Ananta Raghuvanshi, chief executive, retail, MGF Land Ltd, said, “We understand the primary infrastructural problems faced by the retailers. We are planning commercial complexes within the townships. With a big box within townships, you can have a control on the townships. Moreover, the planned townships are coming up on locations with sound road infrastructure, which solves the mobility problem, and within the townships we are developing golf course, villas and IT parks to create an environment that encourages shopping.”

    Raghuvanshi said that the infrastructure development to an extent is in the company’s hands, and they are taking initiatives to create the right shopping environment. Without naming the project or its location, she disclosed that the company is coming up with a project spanning almost four million square feet, and that, probably, will be a model project.

    (Watch Raghuvanshi talking to Indiaretailing at https://www.indiaretailing.com/exclusive/Ananta_Raghuvanshi.html)

    – By Ranjan Kaplish