After Ambanis and Tatas, it is now the turn of Birlas to join the retail rush with a big bang. If the sources are to be believed, Rs 15,000 crore Aditya Birla group would invest more than US$ 3 billion (around Rs. 15,000 crore) against more than US$ 5 billion (Rs. 25,000) being invested by Reliance Retail to set up 10,000 outlets by 2011. This, investment would catapult Birlas to the second biggest retailer’s position in the country.
Reliance has recently unveiled its retail story with the opening of a cluster of 11 neighbourhood Reliance ‘Fresh’ convenience stores in Hyderabad, while Tatas are already in the fray with their retail story unfolded a few years ago with Trent (Westside, Landmark and Star Bazaar) and now Tata Infiniti (Croma).
Birla group, it may be recalled, already has some retail presence through its apparel brands Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England, which have been selling for over 15 years. Another of Birla’s well known premium fabrics brands being retailed for many decades has been Grasim (earlier known as Gwalior Suitings).
Like Reliance, Birlas are not seeking participation of any global retail major as a partner. Like Reliance, Birlas are also likely to follow multi format retail strategy, which would include a judicious mix of neighbourhood convenience stores, speciality stores, super markets and hypermarkets. And, finally, like Reliance, Birlas will also initially focus on Grocery and lifestyle.
Sumant Sinha, the Birla group CFO is likely to shape retail ambitions of the Birla group. According to a report in the Financial Express, grocery would contribute as much as 50% of total Birla retail revenue, while the balace is likely to be almost equally divided between lifestyle and other segments.