Sashi and Ravi Ruia owned, Essar Group, which has extensive interests in steel, oil, power, shipping and communication and which commands the enterprise value of Rs. 57,000 crore (US$ 15 bn.), is also joining the retail bandwagon.
The brand name of the new mobile retailing venture would, perhaps, be “Mobile Shop.” Essar, it may be recalled, is a part owner of India’s third largest mobile service provider Hutchison-Essar.
Essar’s retail plans envisage, to begin with, rolling out 300 to 600 sq. ft. big Mobile Shops in metro and mini-metro cities, by March, 2007. LOng term plans envisage opening 2,500 Mobile Shops within a couple of years.
Speculations is rife about the Essar having roped in the U.K. based, Richard Branson owned Virgin Group (of low cost airline fame) to provide store design and technical support. In the developed markets of the US and Britain, Virgin runs a chain of stores called Virgin Megastores.