Few names, a lot of buzz, but little activity. The business of retail, like a tennis ball in play, has been shifting from one court to another, keeping the heads of retail monitors moving left and right (like tennis game spectators), with eyes wide open to know who’ll score, when and how.
This is what, probably, 2008 has till now seen in the business of realty and retail. Last month, the country heard Finance Minister P Chidambaram announcing ‘no foreign direct investment to be allowed in retail’, which stirred up the environment a bit; and foreign companies pressed the acceleration paddle to finalise their local partners in this country with the second highest population and considerable bulge in the consumer’s pocket. Though no joint ventures or tie-ups happened, a lot of shuffle in the top hierarchy of the companies was seen. Chief executives changed places, got better titles, and talked a lot about ‘expected developments in the industry’.
(Read: Indiabulls president joins DLF; Parsvnath VP to join Carrefour; Suresh Bhatia joins Emaar as CEO; Phoenix Mills appoints new COO; Javeri quits Home Solutions; Ebony CEO to join Vishal Retail; Pranay Sinha steps down as Select Citywalk CEO)
The months gone by saw business dailies monitoring the foreigners closely; whosoever met whichever of their Indian counterpart, the media considered it to be a likely partnership and reported those meetings with avoidable hype. Retailers, foreign and Indian, real estate companies, small and big, have been in news either for speculative mergers or takeovers, or for appointments and resignations of their top-order drivers.
While dailies were writing their stories based on their so-called sources, team Indiaretailing was busy talking to the companies and rebuffing the speculations to keep the industry correctly informed.
(Read: Parsvnath to build 8-10 hypermarkets; Cartier to launch in India soon; Pavers Reliance Footprint to enter India; Parsvnath likely to be Carrefour’s India partner; Li & Fung considering retailing in India; About Rs 80000 cr investments from Aditya Birla in Orissa; VF will not buy out Arvind’s stake; Indiabulls in talks with global retailers; RPG to introduce global coffee and apparel brands ; Planet Retail might lose M&S franchise ; More foreign brands from Arvind; Diesel JV may go; M&M inks 50:50 JV with Capespan ; Tesco: India is a strong focus but waiting for FDI lift; Carrefour India cash-and-carry to open in 2009)
Though the current scenario seems hyped, the month ahead will probably see a lot more happening, as many majors (Indian and foreign) will announce their ‘true partners’ in India. This can be said based on the statements from various companies who say they are in final stages of their negotiations, mostly expected to be finalised within 3-4 weeks. Logically, hence, June is when we should hear the companies (not media’s sources) talking.
To cite instances, in a recent conversation with Indiaretailing, Abdul Rab, director of business development at Carrefour India, had rebuffed media reports announcing their Indian partner and told that the company does have some plans to announce, and this would be done formally within 3-4 weeks.
Ananta Raghuvanshi, chief executive at Emaar MGF, also had a similar say as she told Indiaretailing that they would share their major developments in 3-4 weeks from now.
Earlier, an official of Prozone liberty too had told Indiaretailing that they would have a lot to say in the weeks to come.
Hence, this is probably the only speculation here: let’s be a bit more patient and wait for the June dawn to see which retail mammoth has a bigger bugle to blow.
By Ranjan Kaplish