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Retail in eastern India has a long way to go

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With eastern India holding a paltry nine per cent share in the modern retail sector in India, the region offers tremendous growth potential. For that to happen, though, sufficient investments need to be made in the sector. This was expressed during the ongoing East India Retail Summit (EIRS) 2011 in Kolkata. Organised by IMAGES Group, the two-day event began on January 7 at the Oberoi Grand hotel in the state capital.

“Retail as an industry is a huge employer both for white and blue-collar positions. Though the eastern region has joined the bandwagon late, there has been a significant development in the retail industry both in metros and tier II cities,” said Harsh Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Realty and EIRS, who, along with Bijou Kurien, chairman, India Retail Forum (IRF), and president & CE – Lifestyle, Reliance Retail, inaugurated the summit.

On a positive note, the EIRS chairman said, “While in the East, too, we have jumped onto the retail bandwagon, given the tremendous opportunities, I feel we have only scratched the surface. This first-of-its-kind regional retail event in the country should be a wonderful platform to share and revise lessons learnt and collectively try and arrive at a blueprint for the retail industry in the eastern region.”

Vivek Kumar, MD, IMAGES Retail Intelligence Services (IRIS), said against a national average of 6.5 per cent, only 2.3 per cent of east India retail was organised. A major reason for this, he stressed, was that “eastern India continues to be at the bottom of businesses’ and retailers’ agendas”. He, however, maintained East and North East regions were catching up to sustain the growth momentum and enjoys the fruits of development.

Revealing key figures from the East India Retail Report 2011 (to be released later this month), Kumar said national retail sales crossed the Rs.20 lakh crore-mark in 2010. While key retail groups contributed about Rs.30,000 crore, the remaining sales in modern retail came from exclusive brand stores, regional chains and independent stores. “It clearly shows that opportunities are immense for the one with a trained eye to spot the trends,” he added.

Driven by strong income growth, changing lifestyles, and favourable demographic patterns, the retail industry in India, Kumar said, was expected to rise 25 per cent yearly. The scope would be bigger in the East as the present share of the region in all-India modern retail is just around nine per cent. “Brands, retailers and real estate developers need a lot more than just thinking, planning and strategising for individual growth. Great brands could create a market for themselves and for new products and services. Retailers and developers in east India must also take it upon themselves to start a process of sustainable market evolution,” Kumar asserted.

Stressing that there are huge opportunities in ethnic fashion and crafts that have yet not been touched in the east and north east regions, he said, “Some local manufacturers have the power to become domestic and international giants, if given support via branding, marketing and retailing.”

Post inaugural, the EIRS business session presented learnings from India’s top two retail groups – Future and RPG. While Damodar Mall, head, integrated food strategy, Future Group, spoke about the power and the promise of the East “that has built a compelling belief in the region’s retail market potential with Future Group”, Vineet Kapila, president, Spencer’s Retail, shared expert understanding of the “peculiarity” of the East India market and what its future would be and should be.

Participants at the summit include national and international players from retail verticals such as fashion and lifestyle, accessories, footwear, jewellery, eyewear, health and beauty, food and catering services, IT, retail real estate and others. The summit, an ideal platform for retailers, support businesses, retail technology, real estate and franchisors, has names such as Future Group, Ambuja Realty, Aditya Birla Group, Reliance, RPG, ITC, Shrachi, Avani Group, Manyavar, Moustache, FI, Himalaya Opticals and Khadims, among others.

– IndiaRetailing Bureau

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