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    Round up of IRF 2008 – Day 1 and Day 2


    Day 2

    The second day of India Retail Forum (IRF) 2008, India’s largest retail congregation, kick started with a discussion on various issues faced by the retailers and the prospective strategies to overcome them.

    Speaking on the needs of today’s shoppers, Jonathan Banks, Business Insight Director, The Nielsen Company, UK, elaborated on the four mega trends that the retailers today are focusing on – convenience and practicality, indulgence and pleasure, ethics and enhancement in health and well being.

    Giving an insight on the ‘Winning Retail Strategy’, D Shivakumar, vice president and managing director, Nokia India, said: “The overall Indian retail landscape is getting more organized and sophisticated with close to 12 million retail outlets. Organized telecom retail is expected to grow at 42 per cent to reach around USD 70 billion by 2011. Also, penetration of organized retail in India across categories will grow and the percentage of growth is likely to vary.”

    He further added, “The challenges we face in Indian retail are branding, inadequate understanding of the shopper, surplus of labour but a dearth of talent and incompetent supply chain management.”

    He concluded saying: “We are moving on from an era of independent growth to an era of dependant growth. Indian retail is going to explode and by 2011 it will be bigger than the telecom industry.”

    Steve Gilman, chairman, Big Idea, UK spoke about the challenges of being profitable in India and the lessons India can learn from China. He compared the current retail scenario between India and China elaborating on the 4 P’s – Politics, People, Property and Products which eventually lead to Profit.

    Speaking about the concept of “Private Label Trends’, Paul Martin, global sales manager, Planet Retail, UK said: “The prime factors for growth of private labels in the international market have been highly developed.”

    Zeroing in on the Indian market, he said, “Indian retail has adopted the best practices from various parts of the world and the established Indian players like Reliance and Bharti have been able to build trust for their companies”.

    The session ‘Health and Wellness’ presented by Manipal Cure & Care saw the launch of a book on QCI Standards in Health & Wellness. Addressing the session, RK Srivastava, director general, health services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India spoke about the importance of collaboration between the private and the public sectors for the overall growth of the health and wellness industry while stressing on the need for quality control and prevention.

    Day 1

    On the inaugural day of IRF’08, discussing the future of organized retail in India, Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak, said: “The best period for retail in India is the forthcoming years. Between 2009 and 2013, the retail industry will expand and consolidate exponentially as compared to 2003-2008. By 2013, most of the global or MNC retailers will be present in India.”

    Concluding the session, Bijou Kurien, president and chief executive officer, Reliance Lifestyle Holdings said that the modern Indian retail, which is currently experiencing a steep learning curve, will reach a crescendo.

    Earlier in the post lunch session, the panelists discussed on the topic ‘Hypermart: Experience and Learning’. The session began with the panelists agreeing that some of the challenges faced in the dynamic retail industry, today, are the weak supply chain management, poor infrastructure, need for newer product categories and most importantly the right people to run the retail business.

    Elaborating the challenges in retail, Rakesh Biyani, chief executive officer, Future Retail, said: “The challenge lies in bigger cities. The real estate costs in India are not in sync with the productivity. Also, energy cost which is 300 per cent in India is significantly higher than anywhere in the world”.

    Divulging Future Retail’s immediate expansion plans, he said: “We are planning to launch 35 to 40 stores every year and by June 2009, approximately 140 stores will come up. We also plan to experiment with new formats in terms of sizes.”

    Stressing on the need for the right kind of talent in the retail industry, Viney Singh, managing director, Max Hypermarkets, said: “Training is an important aspect of the retail industry. There are many challenges in the shop floor level and it is important to impart continuous training to get maximum productivity from the staff. The customers will always demand more value, as they are looking for a better shopping experience.”

    The session entitled ‘What could be the future concepts?’ saw the panelists agreeing that it is the consumers who will decide the future of retail. According to them, retail is not a rocket science. It is about meeting customer needs. You need to constantly adapt yourself, keeping into account the current needs of the consumers. Differentiation is going to be the key, to stand out in the clutter. Also, modern retail will bring down the number of steps between the farmers and consumers. There will be less wastage and the consumer will benefit from better quality products.

    Giving an insight into the future of telecom retail, Rajiv Agarwal, chief executive officer and director, Essar Telecom Retail, said: “Retailing from a mobile phone could be the future of retailing in India.”