(India) Ltd

Member: Privilege Clubs (India Retail Forum)

When took over as CEO at HyperCITY Retail (India) Ltd. in August 2014, he came in with a robust experience of over a decade with Max Hypermarkets, where he was part of the founding team and climbed his way up to become the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. A Chartered Accountant by profession, Bhandari has vast retail experience ranging from retail operations, sales, marketing to merchandising. He was instrumental in establishing the Leisure division for in Dubai.

HyperCITY, which launched its first store in Malad, Mumbai, now has 12 large-format hypermarkets and three compact hypermarkets across Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Amritsar, Pune, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Jaipur. The hypermarket chain is further looking to add four to five new stores this year and also expand its retail base in the NCR region. Overall, the investment to expand the store network in new regions would cost Rs 25–30 crores approximately, to ensure a positive turnout.

[In the nine-month period from April to December in 2014, HyperCITY averaged sales per sq ft of Rs5,770, with total sales in calendar year 2014 touching Rs 70,272 lakh through a total of 58 lakh transactions.]

The chain’s stores offer some 44,000 distinct products sourced from both local and global markets in an international shopping ambience that rivals the best in the world. More than 17 lakh customers visit HyperCITY stores every month. In the nine-month period from April to December in 2014, the retailer averaged sales per sq ft of Rs5,770, with total sales in calendar year 2014 touching Rs 70,272 lakh through a total of 58 lakh transactions.

Apart from a wide variety of quality products, its outlets also offer utilities and conveniences such as ATMs, telecom services, bakery and restaurants under one roof to make the shopping experience richer, convenient and complete.

“Retail is one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries in India, ” Bhandari says, adding that his mission at HyperCITY will be to build on the brand’s strength and shopping experience with value, while entering new and untapped markets for the retail chain. “Taken as a whole, HyperCITY is looking to be PBIT (Profit Before Interest & Tax) positive in the current year with its extensive expansion plans.”

“In addition to new store locations, we will be boosting our apparel mix to enhance margins,” Bhandari adds. The chain is hoping to unveil two new outlets in the first quarter of FY15-16; one will open in the NCR, and another in Pune, he informs.

With over 15 years of experience in large format retailing, which have involved working at different levels in the industry, Bhandari is geared towards applying his learning from setting up stores to engaging with the customer to the fast-changing dynamics of this sector. “In addition, my degree in Chartered Accountancy has always helped me to keep a close eye on the finance and budgeting,” he notes.

He does however expect to face challenges in achieving his target to drive HyperCITY’s growth. “The biggest spokes in the wheel are lack of required retail spaces, the unpredictability of consumption behaviour and a serious crunch of trained manpower,” he elaborates.

That being said, Bhandari is emphatic about the opportunity in the Indian consumer landscape. “High consumer spending over the years by the young population and a sharp rise in disposable incomes are driving the Indian organised retail sector’s growth,” he points out. “Even tier I and II cities and towns are witnessing a major shift in consumer preferences and lifestyles, as a result of which, they have emerged as attractive markets for retailers to expand their presence into. Indian retailers must encash this opportunity and focus on tier I and II locations as well.”

-By Nupur Chakraborty