Friday, March 24, 2006

Retail on my mind

There's been tremendous interest/chaos/upheaval/excitement in the Indian Retail sector lately. While the government has permitted FDI in single brand retailing, the real meat lies in opening up the sector for international players like Wal-Mart, Tesco and Carrefour to enter to set up supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores. Indian players like Pantaloon Retail, which owns Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Central etc are opposed to FDI as they want a head start on Wal-Mart which they feel is only being fair to domestic retailers.

Reliance announced in late January this year that it will be entering the retail sector and sent everyone into a tizzy. Reliance can become the Indian Wal-Mart, they know the market and have the resources--how do other Indian retailers compete with that.

What I find is the most interesting thing of all, is the while the communists, socialists and purists are busy trying to keep everything “foreign” out, Indian consumers are lapping up any and all kinds of retail experiences, whether domestic, foreign or alien, all they want is a good deal. While some are worried about Gurgaon maxing out on malls, well, there will be some casualties, but the real consumer is in the tier II and III towns, just waiting to be wooed.

Two interesting articles from Reuters to read; on India'’s fast changing retail scene and how Indian retailers are adapting to change and on the Wal-Mart debate .

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