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The final countdown

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The concluding session, which was the grand finale session of India Retail Forum (IRF’ 09) had the honchos of retail industry coming together on the common platform. The session included Vinod Sawhny, COO, Bharti Retail, Amit Burman, VP Dabur, Mehul Choksi, chairman Gitanjali Group, Rakesh Biyani, director Pantaloon Retail, T S Ashwin, MD Odyssey, Gorden Reid COO of Star Bazaar, Kabir Lumba, ED Lifestyle and Promod Arora from PVR.

The main anchors of the session, Vikram Bakshi, MD Mc Donald’s and B S Nagesh of RAI tried to trace out what lies in the future of retail in the coming years. While the panelists shared their views and their experiences during the last few challenging months, a whole new dimension opened for the retail fraternity to revise the key learning from it. Talking about the growth rate of the Indian retail B.S Nagesh says, “There is opportunity, there is growth. And it is good to see that retail professionals are now realising that competitive harmony and trust is the key to growth.” But he also cautioned the retail professionals to remain rooted to the fundamentals of retail . “We have to look for profitable growth but we should not forget the fundamentals of retail.” he says.

Pointing out the huge opportunity of gold and diamond jewellery retail business in India, Mehul Choksi, the chairman of Gitanjali Group says, “The flow of business is now coming back in retail.” He opined that instead of following a borrowed policy from other countries we need to focus on the characteristics of Indian market and devise the strategies to cater the right audience. According to him, although franchising in jewellery retail has not been practiced much but Gitanjali Group has been successful in exploring the area in India. While it certainly came as a promising note for the retail industry, the audience also seemed to talk about the financing aspect. But Rakesh Biyani, director Pantaloon Retail cheerfully quipped “Funding is not a big problem any more.” But the other panelist Kabir Lumba, ED Lifestyle says, “There is a need to bring down the cost, rent etc. There is no cause for celebration at this point of time.” The key message came as Biyani says “The real journey right now is to colaborate together.” To sum up the key learnings of the session Kishore Biyani, founder and CEO, Future Group says, “Indian retail in the past few years has evolved in a haste. Still now it is going through a process of evolution. Opportunities are endless.”

RAI Conclave- Defining the Future- A Session saw some of stalwarts in retail discuss their plans and dreams for the way ahead for Retail in India. The session anchored by IRF chairman BS Nagesh and Vikram Bakshi- MD, McDonald’s had eminent panelists like Deepak Ashar of INOX, Vinod Sawhny of Bharti Retail, Amit Burman of Dabur, Mehul Chokshi of Gitanjali Group, Rakesh Biyani of Pantaloons Retail, T S Ashwin of Odyssey, Gordon Reid of Star Bazaar, Kabir Lumba of Lifestyle and Pramod Arora of PVR.

The Forum brings an opportunity to learn, share and evolve with the masters in the business, explore vibrant ideas, witness innovation in merchandise, spaces, IT and support systems, network and celebrate outstanding achievements in the business of retail in India. IRF will conclude with the grand finale: IMAGES RETAIL AWARDS felicitating best performers in retail, outstanding professionals and concepts.

Surprisingly, in spite of the recession the message that was sent out by the audience at the end of the two-day conference was very positive and encouraging.

— IndiaRetailing Bureau

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