Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Must have items for my dream home

When it comes to deciding where we want to live and buy our own house, I will definitely be consulting some professionals and getting assistance on floor plans, selecting kitchen and bath fixtures and selecting a nice design for the house. There must be a mix of your personality and professional elements of design that only qualified architects and designers can bring.

There are just so many possibilities when it comes to creating a home that you will want to live in even 15-20 years down the road, something that will grow and evolve with you as your lives change and continue to be practical and efficient. Everyone has their own ideas of what they would like for their own home, but getting some professional advice is always recommended as it usually brings up lots of issues that you might not have even considered in the first place.

I personally prefer a home that is on one level, but it must not be too spread out and have endless amounts of corridors and passages. Efficiency is right at the top of my list in must have things in my own home, along with natural light, comfort and ease of maintainence. Everyone has their own versions of must-have items in their dream home and a good designer makes it all fit together seamlessly.

Reliance Fresh to open on November 03, 2006

More on Reliance Retail's start of operations:
the Economic Times reports that Reliance Retail’s much anticipated foray into the retail sector will finally see its fist store opening on Friday, November 03, 2006 in Hyderabad’s posh neighborhood Banjara Hills. The store is a food and grocery small format store and will be followed by 15 more stores in other cities in Andhra Pradesh. Besides fresh fruits and vegetables, the store will also stock packed tapes such as lentils and flour and general merchandise products.

At the unveiling of the store for the press on Sunday, October 29, 2006, Mukesh Ambani CMD RIL said that, “This is the first small step in our attempt to build and forge strong and enduring bonds with the millions of farmers and transform our relationship with the consumers to a new level. We are starting on a pilot journey of listening to customers and learning from them. We still strive to continuously delight them.”

Other cities that Reliance Fresh stores will be opening in are Vijaywada, Vishakapatnam, Chitoor, Tirupathi, Adilabad and Karimnagar. In other states, the stores will open in Ahemdabad, Mumbai and Delhi. The company plans to open stores in 1,500 cities to generate around $2 billion by the year 2010. Reliance will follow three price points, based on the quality of the product: premium, middle and lower. The company’s in-house brand Reliance Select for grocery items was also launched.

Pizza chains targeting small towns

The Economic Times reports that multinational pizza chains are all turning towards the potential market in the smaller towns and cities of India. Menu offerings are also being localized to suit the palette of the small town customer. Cities like Vapi, Guwahati, Jamshedpur, Meerut are all on the list of pizza chains soon to be opening list.

According to Arvind Mediratta of Yum Brands and promoters of Pizza Hut, "The organized pizza market, which comprises MNC chains and big brands is worth Rs 700 crore and is growing at a rate of 30 per cent annually. Innovation and localization are the key to growth in the pizza industry."

Pizza is not seen only as fast food any more and the demand for pizza is growing due to consumers changing lifestyles and eating habits. The major multinational players in the pizza industry in India are Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John's and Pizza Express. Delhi based Nirula’s is the most well known Indian pizza brand.

Shopping by your nose

Britain's Sunday Times writes about how odors affect the way people shop and spend money. 'Scent Branding' is already being done in the US and is now showing up in UK stores.

Customers in Mothercare, the baby and toddlers’ shop, can smell its distinctive “soft” odour. The Sheraton chain, meanwhile, has begun to perfume the lobbies of all its British hotels with a chemical smelling like fresh fruit.

The development of scent branding, also nicknamed “Muzak for the nose”, follows tests with artificial smells such as baked bread in supermarkets and freshly ironed shirts in the stores of Thomas Pink, the shirtmaker.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Traditional channels still a draw for major retailers

The Economic Times reports that even though malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets are the preferred formats by shoppers, manufacturers are keen on increasing their time and resources on local kirana stores, such as chemists and pan-beedi stores. Smaller trade channels are being noticed by companies who feel that modern retail cannot grow at the cost of the old and traditional retail stores. Several companies are forming specialized and dedicated teams for trade marketing to build relationships, manage space and teach these small traders how to increase visibility and signage’s.

Retailers use EMI schemes to attract new customers

The Economic Times reports that taking advantage of younger customer’s willingness to spend, retailers in Chandigarh and Punjab are using EMI and kitty schemes to increase customer spending. The first store to use this method was Genesis Colors, which has brand such as Satya Paul and Samsara. Only a select number of invitees were allowed who can put in a maximum of Rs. 2,000. The success of the concept has led the company to launch the scheme in Pune, Amritsar, Ludhiana and possibly Delhi. Genesis Colors CEO Nalini Gupta, explained the reason for its success,
“We have seen how women, instead of saving for household things, are now keen to spend of designer wear. Also, the desire of youngsters is driving parents to come here and purchase.”

Reliance Fresh finally opening on 3rd November, 2006

So Reliance Retail finally is all set to open its first store in Hyderabad. The Hindu Business Line reports that a food and grocery format store called Reliance Fresh will be opened on November 3, 2006 in Hyderabad's Banjara Hills. The store was opened for the media on Sunday, October 29, 2006.
"We are planning to test the market through our pilots in the next few months in a phased manner," Mr Gunender Kapur, President and Chief Executive (Foods Business) of Reliance's Retail Business, said. The other formats of the retail initiative included groceries and hypermarkets.

Talking to reporters after unveiling the brand, he said the Fresh stores would offer the widest range of fruits, vegetables and dairy products. "We will learn from the experiences, fine tune them based on the feedback before expanding to other cities and other States," he said.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Omkara


So, we finally saw Omkara, Vishal Bhardawaj's adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. It was a good movie, with great acting especially by Saif Ali Khan and Konkana Sen Sharma, whose characters were deeply sketched and became larger than the actors themselves, which is something most Indian actors are not able to do, so in any movie one sees them in, its always the actor and not the character.

Head over Feet

Yesterday I heard a song on the radio that I had not heard for absolutely ages. A song that I used to hear day in and day out while in college, a song that I used to know all the words of, a song that I felt I wanted to identify with, a song that I felt one day would hold true for me. Well, on hearing it, I realized that everything it stood for, everything I wanted at the time when I used to hear it had come true, slipping into my life so silently but surely without me even realizing it. The song was Alanis Morisette's Head over Feet.

Here are the words to it:

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your choice time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like I'm a princess
I'm not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

You've already won me over in spite of me
Don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

You love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You're so much braver than I gave you credit for
That's not lip service

You've already won me over in spite of me
Don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

You've already won me over in spite of me
Don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Music for your site

I wrote earlier today on a site that provides a service for bloggers and webpage owners to record their own voice for their page. Here's another company that provides a similar service. Springwise.com reports on Sonific is a company that provides users with a 'soundtrack for you digital life', basically a place where you can have your choice of music to create 'SongSpots', which are flash-objects than can easily be pasted onto a website, blog or social network page.
Visitors not only hear the music, but can click on the SongSpot logo to find out more about the artist or purchase the music from affiliates such as iTunes. Sonific is a free service for non-commercial sites; affiliate deals and a paid service for commercial users have to bring in the money.

Luxury loos on the go

Springwise.com writes about the trend for portable luxury loos at mega events such as the Brit Awards, the G-8 Summit, the Volvo Golf Masters in Andalusia and many many more. Igloo's Luxury Portable Loos are the 'ultimate luxury portable toilets for the corporate and private events industry'. So far the trend is popular mostly in the UK and Europe, but is sure to catch on in other places too.

Watch some early games

Living in Providence, RI, I became a big Boston Red Sox fan, keenly watching all their games, reading up on the players and statistics. I never was a baseball fan before I moved to Providence, although I had watched several games in Kansas City when I was in college, but somehow never got into the swing of things, not really understanding the why's and how's of the game. But in Providence, the fanatical fervor of the Boston Red Sox caught me in its sway and from then on, I religiously watched all the games.

Besides attending the games, I would have loved to attend the Spring Training sessions. Currently there are still some Boston Red Sox Spring Training tickets available, but they're sure to not last for long. While they might not be as important as the regular season, these exhibition games are just as enjoyable and in some cases even more enjoyable as one can focus on the plays of all the players instead of only rooting for one team. The spring training sessions are also great in getting to know the newer players and the likely strategy of the games in the regular season.

Cadbury’s ties up with Café Coffee Day

Daily News & Analysis reports that Cadbury India and Café Coffee Day have tied up to combine chocolate and coffee treats. According to Sudipta Sengupta, senior general manager of marketing for Café Coffee Day, “We were looking at launching a new category — chocolate drinks - and the tie-up with Cadbury fits the bill since the company is synonymous with chocolates.”

Cadbury will be supplying chocolates in regular bar forms and Café Coffee Day will innovate with it, combining coffee and other ingredients. The company will be charging Cadbury a branding fee for promoting its brand and will pay Cadbury a bulk rate based on per unit of chocolate purchased.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Offshoring in retail likely to boom

The Economic Times reports that the offshoring industry is seeing a boom due to the rush of international retailers heading to India, to source products as well as their core processes. At present the retail offshoring industry is worth around $500 million and is likely to double in the next 2-3 years.

Traditional back end and front office processes such as HR, finance and customer support are already being done and now core processes such as merchandising planning, training, supply chain management, loyalty programme management, store administration and customer analytics are also being sent to India by major retailers.

According to S Sabyashchi, senior director at Bangalore based consultancy neoIT, “Retail offshoring will create an entirely new cadre of workforce, who will have the relevant skill sets and knowledge about retail processes as adopted by global retail giants. Indian retailers can then leverage these skill sets and process knowledge to further their cause.”

Power jacks for laptops

So, where do you go when you need a power jack for you laptop? Visit all the electronic stores in the neighborhood, only to not find exactly what you were looking for? PowerJacksOnline.com is a much better way to find what you need and get it delivered directly to you. With a stock of over 25,000 jacks, the company has one of the largest stocks of laptop power jacks and also carries out repairs on jacks. The company has the BBOnline Reliability Program to assure skeptics of the trustworthiness of the company.

Traditional channels still a draw for major retailers

The Economic Times reports that even though malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets are the preferred formats by shoppers, manufacturers are keen on increasing their time and resources on local kirana stores, such as chemists and pan-beedi stores. Smaller trade channels are being noticed by companies who feel that modern retail cannot grow at the cost of the old and traditional retail stores. Several companies are forming specialized and dedicated teams for trade marketing to build relationships, manage space and teach these small traders how to increase visibility and signages.

Comment Moderation

Ok, enough of these spam comments. Comment Moderation is now turned on in this blog, so think before you leave an advertisement disguised as a comment. It will not be approved, so don't waste your time.

Fendi to set up stores in India

The Economic Times reports that French luxury retailer Fendi, a subsidiary of the Louis Vuitoon and Moet Henessey (LVMH) Group will be opening stores in India, under the government’s ruling of allowing FDI in single brand retailing. The company has tied up with Fun Fashion India (FFI) who will have a 49% stake in the venture.

LVMH plans to invest Euro 5 million over the next five years in India and will first study the market to see which products will be manufactured and exported from India. Initially, Fendi will sell products under the Fendi, V, FF, FF Fendi in its Mumbai outlet.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On gold

Gold has always been seen as a secure investment and has over generations come to connote power and wealth. In ancient times, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans showed their power and might by amassing gold and minting coins in their names. It was the precious metal that could be tested for purity and held onto for long times.

In modern times, several societies still value gold for its connotation of wealth and security but as the systems have changed and technology has progressed, it is essential to buy gold only from the right sources, where you can trust the purity and authenticity. For investment purposes, gold is best bought either in coin or ingot forms.

Monex Deposit Company (MDC) has been working for over 30 years to provide its customers with a safe place to purchase gold and other precious metals such as silver and platinum. While buying gold is hard work, storing it is even harder. Monex is not only one of the easiest ways to purchase gold; it will even have your purchase delivered to an independent bank or depository for safe keeping.

Finding a great place to stay in the UK

My parents spent a month this summer traveling in the UK. The entire trip was planned on the Internet by my father, including reservations as bed and breakfasts in several places in UK and Scotland, car rental reservation, seats at the Edinburgh Festival etc. After searching through several sites, he found that UKaccomodations.com had an intensive coverage of a variety of places to stay in the UK and Scotland.

Marlborough House was one of the best places to stay in Bath, with it's beautifully done up rooms, public areas and gardens. In the Lake District, the Buckle Yeat Guest House a 17th century Lakeland home close to Hill Top Farm, the home of Beatrix Potter was a really great find. Although, they didn't spend the night in Salisbury, Farthings Bed and Breakfast seems like a great place to stay the next time.

Diwali season shopping

More on the Diwali shopping season

The Economic Times reports that this Diwali many retailers are rejoicing as sales have increased significantly over the past few years. RC Agarwal, CMD of Vishal Mega Mart, said his company saw sales go up by 200% this year on a national level, with gift, household and crockery items being the best sellers.

Mumbai’s 2 largest malls, Inorbit Mall in Malad and Nirmal Lifestyle Mall in Mullund saw crowds of 50,000 on Sunday, close to double of the usual footfalls, and most people did some shopping and eating instead of just browsing. Consumer durables were the mainstays of the shopping for most people and stores such as Vijay Sales say that they will comfortable meet their target of Rs. 2,500 crore for August-November.

A good Diwali for retail majors

The Economic Times reports that Diwali has brought good sales results for most retail majors after a slow start. Leading retail chains such as Westside, Pantaloons, Wills Lifestyle, Ebony and Landmark recorded sales figures of 40-45% higher than last year during the same period. While sales were slow to pick up after Dussehra, the traditional start of the shopping season, the last seven days saw a significant growth in sales.
Mr Biyani, which owns the Pantaloons and Big Bazaar retail outlets, attributed the late sales surge to late start of holidays in schools and colleges. However, opinions differ across industry players on the issue. An industry official said the September clearance sales might have cannibalised the festive period sales to an extent.

According to Ebony Retail Holding’s CEO Lalit Kumar, “Diwali sales usually coincides with the pre-winter sales. However, this time since winter is yet to set in, the sales were damp in the initial days.” Mr Kumar feels the company’s aggressive festive marketing campaign, with a sharp focus on a different categories every week, helped Ebony achieve its target for the festive season.

Improve your article marketing skills

Since I've been increasing my writing, I've been reading a lot of stuff on how to get these works noticed by those who matter. It's not necessarily a hard job but then it's not a cakewalk either. Besides knowing about your subject matter, unless you know who your target audience is, what they are looking for and how to reach them, any amount of writing is of no use at all.

Write Your Way To Profit is offering an e-course in article writing and submission for entrepreneurs and marketers to promote products or services on a variety of formats. The course duration is for 60 days and will cover topics such as article marketing, developing article strategy, working with co-writers, building a submission list and expanding beyond your core subjects.

Future Group forms alliance with Travel Port

More on Kishore Biyani's Future Group:

The Economic Times reports that The Future Group has tied up with Travel Port a Rs. 20 crore travel house, for bringing in travel in retail. The company’s first outlet opened in Pune’s Central Mall and the company plans to open 50 outlets across the country, including one at each Central Mall.
“There was a lot of talk of travel coming into retail, but we have launched it first in India. Now, just as one buys a pair of sunglasses, or trousers, one can also buy air tickets or travel packages .

With four franchisees and a branch in Pune, the city is the third largest contributor to Travel Port revenues after Mumbai and Delhi.

“We are looking at a turnover of Rs 15 crore till next fiscal only from this store in Pune,” said Travel Port India’s chief executive officer OK Venkatesh.

Starbucks tie up with Biyani likely

The Economic Times reports that Seattle based coffee company; Starbucks is likely to tie up with Planet Retail Holdings, a subsidiary of The Future Group, to set up operations in India. Once the formalities are completed, Planet Retail will be the master franchisee for India and South Asian markets.
The $6.4-billion coffee chain’s India strategy has been a matter of great interest and speculation, as company officials have been making routine visits to India twice a year. It has been in talks with various Indian companies for almost three years, prominent among them being the Rahejas and RPG group.

Earlier this year, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz had said, at the company's Q3 result conference, “We are equally excited about two other major markets we intend to enter during 2007 — India and Russia... We are in discussions with potential joint venture partners in each of these markets. Meanwhile, we are scouting for locations, meeting government officials — all for gaining additional market knowledge and building critical relationships to make our market entries a success.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Landscaping ideas

One of the best advantages to live in a house as opposed to an apartment is access to a green space where you can create your ideal garden. Getting started on creating a backyard masterpiece is the hardest part of all, what to plant, where to plant, should you put in a patio, how about a little koi pond etc, the list is long and answers confusing.

A great source for landscaping ideas is LandscapingIdeasOnline.com, where you can find over 2,790 pictures to give you inspiration on a variety of landscaping options. There are categories such as walkways and paths, rocks and stones, trees and shrubs, fountains and water features, benches and swings to help you fine tune what exactly your garden needs.

Wal-Mart looking to source products worth $600 million

The Economic Times reports that Wal-Mart said that it would be sourcing products worth over $600 million from India this year, an increase of around 50% since 2005. The major categories that the company has been sourcing are home textiles, apparel, fine jewelry and household items. The Indian sourcing office of Wal-Mart opened in 2001 and is located in Bangalore.

3 views on advice

Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it.
--Agatha Christie

Advice is one of those things it is far more blessed to give than to receive.
--Carolyn Wells

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
--Robert Frost

Gift card fraud

The Charlotte Observer reports that there's a new type of fraud this holiday season, gift card tampering. Online gift cards are the target of criminals who are stealing blank cards to sell them online, leaving gift recipients embarrased at the checkout counter.
The scams are a new form of fraud that has become a growing concern of retailers and shoppers as more department stores, restaurants and supermarkets offer gift cards as a way to increase sales, bring in first-time shoppers and build brand loyalty. Gift card sales make up about 4 percent of the $435 billion in holiday spending nationally, according to the National Retail Federation. More than two-thirds of the consumers the group surveyed said they planned to purchase at least one gift card for the holidays, making up about 16 percent of the average consumer's holiday gift budget.

Tracking online activities

As a parent it is extremely important to be able to be aware of what your children are doing online. One of the best systems to track online activity is SpectorSoft's new and updated software, the Spector Pro which records all activity on Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL and Myspace. It is the only system that can record Myspace activity and is one of the most well known and intelligent internet monitoring and keylogger systems available.

The system analyzes the activity and notifies you according to the threat level perception. Using visual snapshot recording, email and chat recording and keystroke recording, the Spector Pro system is easily the most powerful surveillance software in the market. The Spector Pro software has nine tools that work together to record a variety of activities such as online searches, programs launched, websites visited, file swapping, etc.

The company was judged the world's best selling software for surveillance and monitoring all aspects of activities on a PC and the Internet. PC Magazine selected Spector Pro as the Editor's Choice for Best Monitoring Software in 2002 and then again in 2004. For any parent it would be one of the best ways to spend money to safeguard their children from online predators as well as online fraud.

Buy a house in Malaysia

Rediff News reports:
Now's the time to buy that house in Malaysia that you've always wanted. The Malaysian Tourism Board's investment promotion scheme launched in 2004, 'Malaysia-my second home' is attracting lots of Indian investors to the country. Till date, 490 Indians have spent Rs 200 crore to purchase homes and resorts in the country.
Under the programme, the properties on offer in Malaysia vary from apartments and condominiums, terrace houses, bungalows in tourism zones such as beaches, near jungles and theme parks, recreational places and city centres.

The criteria to stay is a social visit pass with a multiple entry visa initially valid for a period of ten years and then renewable.

"Malaysia's stable economy, low cost of living, warm and balmy weather and political stability works in its favour. Also, Malaysia is an education destination with international schools and universities," said Manoharan, director, Malaysia Tourism.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vishal Retail to invest Rs. 600 million in stores and manufacturing facility

Business Standard reports that at the launch of the company’s second hypermarket in Ludhiana, Surinder Kumar Aggarwal, director of Vishal Retail Ltd, parent company of Vishal Mega Mart, announced that it will be investing Rs. 7 billion to establish 60 hypermarkets and also set up a manufacturing facility in Dehradun. The new store was the company’s fifth opening in the state of Punjab, after Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar and Amritsar. The company will be opening stores in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula where they are in the final stages of selecting locations. Once the company is well established in the northern states, it will focus on south India.

Mudra Lifestyles plans Rs. 2.2 billion expansion

Business Standard reports that textile company Mudra Lifestyle has made plans to expand its weaving, processing and apparel manufacturing facilities to cater to the current retail boom. The expansion cost is estimated to be Rs. 2.2 billion. The company wants to be able to meet orders from both domestic and international customers, once the expansion is complete.

Mudra is one of the biggest manufacturers of shirts and supplies to major companies such as Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Rip Zone, Primetex, Albacco, Allen Flusser, American Models, American Julliet, Reliance, Raymonds, Killer, Lee and its own brand Madura Garments.

Home office hell

This is something really very interesting. Offices2share.com is holding its 2nd Annual The Home Office From Hell contest and has some really incredible prizes for the winners. Offices2share.com was established in 1999 to let small businesses find affordable office space without the heavy deposits and other costs. The company also wanted to be able to provide short term leases and ready-to-use office spaces to these small businesses who cannot typically afford to set up an office from scratch themselves. The Grand Prize is 12 months free rent (upto $12,000) at any location posted on its site and a free trip to NYC to have lunch with Donald Trump's senior executive George Ross. To enter the contest, you need to name your top ten reasons to move out of your home office from hell, and can even post a video of your home office from hell.

Juneo trip

Back from a wonderful trip to the hills with my family. To the place that I grew up, the place where my dreams and hopes took shape, the place that will always remain dear to me, the place that I can picture in my mind, in every season, from every direction, and to the place where now I will have new memories to share with my family.

Juneo in Himachal Pradesh is not one of the most beautiful places in the world, the road leading to it is always in some form of disrepair, there's not much to do there in forms of modern entertainment, but lots to do in the outdoors, from birdwatching, hiking, fishing, camping and anything else outdoors.

It was a really hectic weekend and since we left Bombay, we haven't spent even 24 hrs in a single place. We left Bombay on friday afternoon, spent the evening in Delhi and then all 6 of us took the early morning Shatabdi to Chandigarh, reaching there at 11am, going to my parents place to pick up the food and supplies for our stay in Juneo. We left Chandigarh at 1210, with me driving the Scorpio, which is a really great vehicle to drive, and headed to Giani's dhaba in Dharampur for a late lunch.

From Giani's we headed to Solan and took the Rajgarh road, past the Horticulture University at Oachghat, down to cross the Giri river and up again to reach Juneo at 410pm, just as it was getting cold and dark. After unloading the car, we walked a bit near the orchard and packing shed and then headed back indoors to have some tea and light the fire.

As it was Diwali, we played a few rounds of cards, lit some firecrackers and had a good meal although it was not traditional festival fare. After a chilly and foggy morning, mostly spent indoors, we headed to Kasauli after lunch, stopping off at Dharampur for some hot chocolate fudge at Hot Millions. In Kasauli we stayed at The Kasauil Club, a cute and quaint old institution established in 1880. After some nice hot tea and cheese toast, we played some snooker and pool and then settled for a while at the bar. Dinner was continental fare, but below our expectations, and a bit of an anticlimax.

For breakfast the next morning we tried Alasia on the Lower Mall, which wasn't too bad at all, and gave us enoungh energy to walk back up on the steep slopes to the Club. We finished all formalities of checking out and then headed to my old school, The Lawrence School Sanawar for a quick round. Everything was nice and shiny, polished and prepared for Founders that took place a couple of weeks back. We parked in BD Quad and walked up to see the Chapel and the War Memorials, before heading back to Chandigarh for a late lunch at Noodle Bar, ice cream at Aroma's and then the evening Shatabdi to Delhi, reaching home at 11pm. At 415 this morning we headed to the airport to come back to Bombay.

Although since friday evening we didn't stay even 24 hours in any single place, we somehow managed to pack in a lot of stuff, fun and of course food in the three days we were away, building lots of memories and fun times to look back on.

Friday, October 20, 2006

away

We're off to the hills for the Diwali weekend. Back on tuesday, 24th of October.

Raymond and NIFT sign pact

Business Standard reports that Raymond and the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for tailoring services and research and development, in an effort to recognize and give a push to talent from the fashion industry while also improving Raymond’s own tailoring services.

According to this agreement, the Raymond Scholarship will sponsor a top student each semester. Both organizations will also work together on R&D issues such as standardization of sizes and forecasting color and fashion trends.

Reliance Retail plans pharmacy chain

The Economic Times reports that Reliance Retail’s plan includes opening a network of 4,000 pharmacies in India in the next 3-4 years, starting from January 2007. A large percentage of these pharmacies will be located in rural areas, and will cover the entire range of activities from blood tests, medical insurance, consultancy and of course the retail of medicines. The company has already started hiring pathologists, doctors and managers to run these outlets. Most of the pharma outlets would be set up next to Reliance stores.

Holiday cards

It’s getting to be time to start thinking of what kind of cards you want to send out for Christmas. I don't like to go over the top, with too much Christmassy stuff, hasn't everyone already had enough by the time Christmas rolls around anyway? Each year stores and radio stations are playing Christmas carols earlier and with more frequency, because of a study that listening to them makes people spend more money. I think this year I am going to go for some holiday cards with pictures and found some good Snapfish coupons at CouponChief, which is a really good place to look for deals on other shopping ideas as well.

Pantaloon expects revenue of Rs. 50 billion from joint ventures

Business Standard reports that the Future Group’s subsidiary, Pantaloon Retail India Ltd (PRIL) is targeting revenues of Rs. 50 billion from its joint ventures by 2010. The company will be investing Rs. 5 billion in these joint ventures and hopes for a ten fold return. Joint ventures are being looked at in seven key segments such as footwear, lifestyle, kidswear, food, entertainment and health.

It has already formed some of these agreements such as a 51% stake JV with Liberty India for footwear under the name Shoe Factory, a tie up with kidswear brand Gini & Jony, for the food segment it has tied up with Pan India Food Solutions and Galaxy Entertainment for the entertainment segment.

The company has tied up with Talwalkars for fitness and Indus Clothing for yoga clothing and fitness wear. For the lifestyle segment, the company has tied up with Planet Retail India Ltd, with the Etam brand for lingerie and inner wear and Goldiam International Ltd for its jewelry brand Ola.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fluidity Bar

I saw an interesting fitness product on in the Internet called the Fluidity Bar. It's an all body exercise machine that uses your own body weight to tone and shape your entire body. So far, the machine was being used only at some of the top health clubs in New York City and is now available for everyone to try out. The Fluidity Bar has been designed by engineers from MIT, who have patented its design and utility. Users can adjust the machine to their hip height and also to their flexibility level for maximum output. The Fluidity Bar seems like a very interesting concept but I would love to try it out first before buying it. The price seems to be on the higher side, but if the product really suits a person then it would be a good value.

Destination India for luxury shopping

CNN-IBN reports that luxury brands are realizing the potential for selling to Indian customers. The number of potential households is estimated to be 1.6 million currently and along with increasing buying power and awareness of luxury brands, the Indian consumer is very concerned about the exclusive factor associated with buying high priced products.

While a few years ago, India’s rich spent their money outside the country, now they are shopping here in India. The Indian luxury market is still very small at $455 million, as compared to $2 billion in China but the Indian market is growing at a faster rate. Besides Delhi and Mumbai, the rich are located in 8-10 other cities in India and despite higher prices for luxury goods in India, consumers are lapping them up faster than even the Europeans.

Joint pains

Ever since I worked (or rather overworked) as a manager at K-Mart in Kansas City, I have had all kinds of aches and pains in my knees. After a few years of ignoring it I finally got it checked out and was told it was condromylacia, a condition that happens when the cartilage between the kneecaps wears out and they grate against each other to cause pain. I did some therapy sessions with infra red lights, specific stretch exercises and took some joint pain supplements. Over time and with the right exercises and diet my knees have got better, although I still have to avoid certain postures (no lunges at all) and walking down steps can still be painful early in the morning. I hear a joint pain supplement called Synotrex is pretty good in easing pain for joints and arthritis, by rebuilding cartilage. I think I need to visit the doctor and see if this will help me out.

Wal-Mart purchases China's Trust Mart

Retail Week reports that Wal-Mart is likely to purchase a chain of 100 Trust-Mart hypermarkets in China for an estimated $1billion (US). While the initial deal was only for 31 stores, with the added stores Wal-Mart would likely increase its sales to $2 billion (US) next year.
News reports have suggested that the world’s largest retailer will buy the chain – which posted sales of US$1.42 billion (£762.7 million) last year – from Trust-Mart, a Taiwanese company.

Ultimate kitchen gizmo

I love to have gizmos in the kitchen to help me prepare and cook food. It’s always the preparation that takes such a long time and most recipe books never account for this time. I came across a great time saver in the kitchen called the Ultimate Chopper advertised on TV. The Ultimate Chopper really helps save time and effort while preparing food. It chops, grates, minces, purees, crushes, grinds and whips all in one tiny machine that has 750 watts of power.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy days for US retailers this holiday season

The National Retail Federation reports that the average shopper will be spending $800 each this holiday season, according to The National Retail Federation's 2006 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey that is conducted by BIGresearch.com. The survey finds that consumer spending has gone up from $738.11 last year to $791.10 this year. Besides buying gifts for others the survery estimates that consumers will spend an additional $99.22 on things for themselves.
Consumers this year will shop at a variety of destinations for holiday gifts. While discount stores (70.3%) continue to be the most popular holiday shopping location, many people will also be shopping at specialty stores (48.4%), grocery stores (49.3%), drug stores (21.0%), and crafts or fabrics stores (20.5%). Additionally, nearly half (47.1%) of consumers said they plan to shop online this year, up from 36.0 percent three years ago.

This holiday season is likely to bring good news for department stores, as 61.6 percent of shoppers plan to shop there for holiday items, up from 53.1 percent in 2003. Department stores are likely to see much of their traffic from young adults with a whopping 79.1 percent of 18-24 year-olds planning to shop at department stores for holiday merchandise, up from 72.9 percent last year and 65.9 percent in 2004.
Falling gas prices in the past month along with higher sentimental value this year will both show increased levels in spending.

Pre-Diwali consumer durable sales subdued

The Economic Times reports that Consumer durable sales in the pre Diwali season are not up to par this year. Most retailers and manufacturers rely heavily on the sales during this period to carry them through the year and with only 4 days left; there is no coherent picture of upward sales as yet as sales in different product categories have varied sales.

LG saw almost a 100% spike in sales in June due to the World Cup and a modest 20% increase during Onam-Durga Puja celebrations. Onida on the other hand, did not see higher sales in the festival period. Samsung reports that LCD TVs have seen a 930% growth over last year and other categories such as plasma TVs and frost free refrigerators are also doing well.

Who will win the kirana vs. supermarket battle?

CNN IBN reports that a new study by Technopak Advisors suggests that kirana’s will not be beaten down by fancy supermarkets just yet. As Indian’s are becoming addicted to shopping and the retail environment, both traditional and modern outlets will benefit and are expected to grow by 42% in the next five years. Modern retail outlets will account for 15% of that growth and grow by 75% by 2011.

While local stores located close to hypermarkets and supermarkets will be more affected than others, but there are several options for them to convert their stores into before going out of business. Chairman of KSA Technopak, Arvind Singhal says that
"Telecom retailing outlets can be put in mom and pop stores and some current retailers could become food service retailers and others could become cyber cafe owners."

TGIF to open more stores

Business Standard reports that US based TGIFriday’s will be expanding its operations to set up 35 stores in the metros as well as other cities in the next five years. The total investment required for the expansion will be Rs. 140 crore. Sanjoy Roy, executive vice-president (operations) for TGIFriday’s said that the company will be opening 5-6 stores each year to reach 40 stores after five years. At present there are TGIFriday’s in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Gurgaon and new stores are being planned for Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata and Noida.

The best Martini glass

When we moved back to India a couple of years back, we had to buy everything from scratch here since we gave everything we owned in the US away to friends, neighbors and the garbage man. What I really missed was finding the right glasses for wines, cocktails and especially Martini glasses, like we had in Providence. My personal preference is for clean and classic designs, like the Riedel Vinum Martini glass. Interestingly, the Martini is the only cocktail that has a glass named after it.

Siyaram’s to launch new Ready-to-wear brand

The Economic Times reports that textile company Siyaram’s will be bringing out a new ready-to-wear (RTW)brand under the name Siyaram’s MSD, the initials stand for Monday to Sunday Dressing but also are the same as the new brand ambassador cricketor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose initials also match the brand’s name.

Ramesh Poddar, managing director of Siyaram’s said the target audience of the brand would be 20-35 years old. The brand will consist of formals, semi-formals, casuals as well as club and party wear. The company has decided to launch these products as the fabric market is growing at only 2-3%, while the RTW market is growing at 10-12%.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Future Group bets on publishing

The Economic Times reports that The Future Group is betting big on publishing and is negotiating to acquire copyrights of best sellers from several foreign and Indian publishers. So far, the company has acquired Indian publishing rights for 18-20 foreign titles. These are in children’s and health book segments and will be sold under the company’s Depot brand, the Future Group’s private label for books. Depot also plans to bring in Indian authors to produce independent titles.

Future Group CEO stated to The Economic Times that
“The group is in an advanced stage of negotiations with foreign publishers, including those from countries like the UK and Canada.”
Preeti Vyas, business head for Depot, added,
“Since we will have exclusive copyrights for selling these titles in the Indian market, the price will be customised.”

Most competive nations

Harvard Business School's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness released its report on the most competitive nations. The US and Germany are in the top spots this year, China's ranking declines and India's ranking increases.
The U.S., ranked number one in four of the last six years, scored high on business environment, financial markets, and innovative capacity. Germany, number two, benefited from its orientation on exports, the unique competitive positions of its companies, and the quality of its legal and regulatory framework.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, and Hong Kong SAR. Hong Kong increased its ranking by seven, in part by strengthening management education, the efficacy of government boards, and local availability of process machinery, the ISC reported.

Other high-income nations increasing their ranking included Qatar, Norway, and Malta. Advanced economies on the decline included Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, and France.

Crossed 500 posts

Hey, I crossed my 500th post a few posts back (this one is my 505th post). I'm really kicked that I had so much to write about these past two years, since I'm normally a quiet person. Just goes to show speaking and writing are two totally different ballgames. Starting out writing about local happenings, past experiences and future dreams, I have progressed to writing about retail, technology, new business ideas, communication etc and I find that I am devoting more time on my blog with each passing month. To the extent that I now have 2 other blogs where I write only on specialized topics and not everything and anything like I do here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Benetton's India connections

The Hindu Business Line reports that Benetton sees India as a "pillar of Benetton's future". The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and constantly seeks inspiration from India and her colours. As part of the celebrations, Benetton will be holding a fashion show in Paris at the location where it opened its first international store in 1969.
A month-long exhibition, Les Yeux Ouverts (Eyes Open to the World and the Future), organised by Fabrica, Benetton's communications research centre, will be housed at Paris' famed Centre Pompidou, a hi-tech, modern art museum. Fabrica promotes art and talent of young artists and researchers across the world through design, music, cinema, photography, publishing and the Internet.

Children's wear retail in India to boom

More on the children's wear segment in India.
NDTV reports that the children’s wear segment of the Indian retail sector is set to boom with international brands such as Monalisa from Italy, Disney from the US and MotherCare from the UK already in the country. The children sweat market in India is estimated to be worth Rs. 130.85 billion, and is 15% of the total apparel market of India, showing the potential of its growth. With 30% of Indians under the age of 15, consumer outlooks changing to spending more on children, the segment is sure to see a growth.

Children's retail store by Raymond Zapp! opens

The Hindu Business Line reports that Raymond opened its first Zapp! store, its new apparel brand for children from the ages 4-12. The brand hopes to connect to kids with its own cartoon characters, Zion, Ashley, Posh, Pixel and a pet dog named Jambo. The company has also set up a website for the store along with its own customer loyalty program called Zapp! Club.

Free programming resource

As we rely on and do more on the internet, we need to be able to understand some technical stuff about it too. Earlier only programming professionals did specialized courses for programming and learnt about XML/CSS, AJAX or HTML, but with time, it is becoming more common for professionals from other fields to learn about these techniques which are becoming more common and relevant now. I did an HTML course several years ago, just for kicks and find that it is coming in handy quite often with my work on the Internet.

For technical details, the CodeCall Programming Forum is a good source of information to help you out of your programming dilemmas. With this free resource, you can build your web pages, style them as you like, and learn lots more about how the right type of website can significantly increase your traffic. CodeCall has experts that can help you fix your programming problems for free.

Discovering what the consumer really wants

The Economic Times reports that Retailers are realizing the importance of understanding their customer on their own terms rather than relying on market research data and are making a greater effort to study customers in their stores.

HyperCITY found this out firsthand when it opened in May 2006 that market research data was not correct and reliable. According to market research, cut vegetables and fruits would not be high priority on housewives lists, but once the store opened HyperCITY noticed that it was the first thing that housewives bought and continually out of stock. The retailer now has 8 workers in the section, up from its initial 2 workers.

When Food Bazaar was going to launch its own in-house brand Fresh and Pure, it decided to test out its products in its stores rather than rely on test marketing with focus groups. The company used a variety of different packaging and placements for the same product line to come up with the winning formula.

For NASCAR fans

Are you a NASCAR enthusiast? Do you drop everything else to watch the races? Well, then you're going to love the new NASCAR Forum that has tons of information on just about everything about the races available. You can join NASCAR Space for free and get in touch with other NASCAR fans, discuss racing strategies, statistics, drivers, teams, schedules and even the politics of racing. One of the nice things about the NASCAR Forum is that you can buy and sell NASCAR related merchandise. There are also lots of contests on the site that you can participate in once you sign up.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

K-State loses to Nebraska

K-State got beaten to the ground by Nebraska 21-3 in yesterday's football game. It was a big game for Nebraska, its 800th win. Read more details on the game here.

It did not take long for the Cornhuskers, who snapped a four-game losing streak here, to take control of the contest.

"It's very huge for us, that was our goal throughout fall camp," Nebraska nose guard Ndamukong Suh said of the win. "We wanted to come out and win at Iowa State and Kansas State before going back home to face Texas."

Food Processing industry likely to get Rs. 500 billion investment

The Economic Times reports that the Indian government is planning to invest Rs. 500 billion in the food processing industry. The investment will take place during the 11th Five Year Plan. According to Subodh Kant Sahai, minister for state for food processing, the government is focusing the investment on building strong backward and forward linkages of the supply chain, creating testing facilities and setting new abattoirs. He added that the government’s share of this investment would be 10%, the industry’s share 40% and banks and private institutions share 50%.

On wines

We both like to drink wine and had built up a nice collection in Bangalore but ever since we've moved to Bombay, we've had a tough time finding good wine. In Bangalore, one can get excellent wine just about everywhere, but in Bombay due to the influence of Gujarati and Jain vegetarians, wine is available only at licensed liquor shops, rather than supermarkets.

If you are a wine enthusiast and like collecting, WineAuctionPrices.com is an online database of wines and is a good source of information to evaluate your collection and research wines. The site has over 125,000 wines listed with their prices, auction house and date of auction and what condition the wine bottle was in.

Will Tesco enter Indian retail market before Wal-Mart?

Forbes reports that India is attracting the world’s largest retailers with its population of 1.1 billion that is steadily increasing and a retail industry in its infancy. While at present FDI regulations do not permit foreign retailers such as Wal-Mart and Tesco to set up shop on their own, Tesco could be close to finalizing a joint venture deal with Bharti Enterprises.

FieldFresh Foods, a subsidiary of Bharti Enterprises is said to be in the final stages of closing a deal with Tesco to bring the UK retailer to India. The Indian government has only permitted single brand retailers to enter the market, thus making global giants enter either the wholesale market or form joint ventures to get access to this gigantic market.

Simple tips for healthy living

When I was living away from home as a college student, I realized the importance of having someone to contact to ask basic questions about health, for things that one didn't necessarily need to go to a doctor. OrganizedWisdom.com is a site where everyone can share their stories on health related topics. It's a good way to spread information on lots of basic health related topics. So go ahead and have a look at OrganizedWisdom.com.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Arvind Singhal on India's retail outlook

Arvind Singhal Chairman of Technopak Advisors and one of the best known voices of the Indian retail industry writes about his concerns about the rapid growth and soaring dreams of India's retail dreams.
My concerns are largely on three major counts - availability of suppliers and supplies, availability of land at the "right" location and price to build or lease retail space, and availability of "trainers" to train the millions that need to be hired, and inducted at the shop floor level.
With no clarity on optimising this scarce resource, and practically no vision on having a policy that periodically releases land (and increases FSI) for more pressing needs such as housing, commercial offices, retail shops, schools, hospitals, and hotels - the sudden spurt of investment activity in retail alone will create a demand of at least 300 million square feet of additional retail space in the next 3-5 years. Demand-supply imbalance will severely dent the growth (and of course, the financial viability) plans of most of the players.

Words of wisdom

Never waste a minute of your precious life by squandering it thinking about people you don’t like.
--Anonymous

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
--Abraham Lincoln

James Brausch on honesty on the Internet

If you have to read only one thing online today, then this post by James Brausch on Internet business should be it. James takes on a hotly debated topic of reality and honesty in the internet. I agree with James on this totally, one has to be true to one self and not fall for any money making schemes that fall on an iffy and blurry line between honesty and dishonesty in the internet. There are a ton of schemes to make fake websites that attract search engine traffic but are a real nuisance to users.

Organic food retailing is hopping

Would you pay more for ethical food products?
How much more would you be willing to pay? 10%? 20%?

Market analyst Mintel, estimates that consumers are now willing to spend quite a bit more on buying ethically made, free range, fair trage and organic products. Consumers in the UK will be spending GBP2 billion this year alone on these products and this market has been growing at 62% in the past four years.
While supermarkets once competed in price wars over bread and baked beans to attract customers, they are now expanding their "conscience-light" ranges to cope with increased demand.

Crucially, the Mintel research found one third of adults now believe it is worth paying more for food that is fair trade, organic and locally sourced.
Tesco and Sainsburys in the UK have both seen increases in their sales of organic food products and US based Whole Foods,one of the fastest growing food retailers, has a very large and varied section of organic products.

Read the article in The Independent.

Croma opens in Mumbai

The first store of Croma, the consumer durable retail partner ship between Tata’s Infiniti Retail and Woolworths opened in Juhu, a suburb of Mumbai on Monday, October 10, 2006. Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata sons, Ajit Joshi, CEO of Infiniti Retail Ltd and Roger Corbett, Independent Consultant and former CEO of Woolworths were present for the launch.

See the pic on The Hindu Business Line and read more on Croma here on the Tata Group site.

Construction management software

According to recent industry surveys, infrastructure is one of the most promising industries for a significant part of the world. From Dubai to Mumbai, Beijing to Bangalore countries are setting up or upgrading their infrastructure facilities. The essence of all construction companies is timely completion of projects within their allocated budgets. A new tool has been launched that can play a significant role in how developers and builders can improve timeliness as well as budget allocations.

Procore Technologies has launched SitePro, which essentially is a construction project management software that connects builders and contractors to job sites, so that they can keep a check on scheduling, change orders, punch lists, RFIs and even hold online discussions etc via the internet. Using this system they can keep track of work status, daily job log and other important information. The system is web-based so can be accessed anywhere, on any computer, all it needs is an internet connection. Each user is given an ID and Password to access the information. Anyone with the most basic of computer skills will be able to use this system.

International fashion and lifestyle magazines make a beeline for India

Business Standard reports that several international fashion and lifestyle magazines are realizing the potential of the Indian market and are heading to launch Indian editions. In the past few months, OK! and Marie Claire have been launched and Vogue and GP will soon be launching. While all international magazines will have world class paper, photography and international content, having in localized Indian flavor is seen as the key to success in the publishing world.

Business traveling

When traveling on business, one has to carry only a laptop but also other paperwork like brochures, research work, letter heads and visiting cards. It is really important therefore, to have a good case to carry your laptop. The usual sling laptop bag is really not good enough anymore since if you put any extra paperwork in it, it looks too bulky and unwieldy.

Tumi has introduced a new laptop bag on wheels where you can fit all your business documents, laptop and other requirements for a business trip, making it your mini traveling office. There are detailed specifications of the bag at Tumi at Luggage Online along with pictures and sizes of the bag. The bag is specifically made for business travelers and is light and easy to handle. The bag is made of heavy-duty FXT Ballistic nylon and also has in-line skate wheels for better control, an upright handle with telescoping ability and a padded laptop sleeve which is removable.

Realizing their clout, malls raise rentals

The Economic Times reports that as malls are realizing their clout and that they don’t have to rent anchor spaces at throw-away rates just to get the big names in the mall, and so are now raising rents. While earlier a mall’s success depended on at least one big name as a tenant, it is not the case anymore. Abijit Das, head of Ansal Plaza Mall Management Company says that,
“Low rental offers by anchor stores have also forced developers to try their luck through revenue share agreements where they may earn more.”
Increasingly, malls are realizing the importance of creating a strong brand for themselves, and therefore are not depending on only big retailers to pull in customers to the mall anymore. Raman Mangalorkar, a principal at AT Kearney, adds,
“Earlier, the presence of retail chains was the key factor that determined footfalls in a mall. Not any more. Now malls are independently recognised and are marketing themselves aggressively.”
Contrasting to malls focus on big anchor tenants, now many developers now prefer a more varied mix of stores, including department stores and small format stores rather than only large retailers. Ajay Khanna, executive director of DLF Retail Developers says,
“New innovative mid-sized formats are becoming popular as they take less space and cater to everyone’s needs.”

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lulu Hyper to set up shop in Kerala

Business Standard reports that UAE based Emke Group’s Lulu Hypermarket is all set to enter the Indian retail market with its first store in Kochi in Kerala. The new outlet at Kochi will be spread over 180,000 sq ft in space and will become India’s largest hypermarket. At present HyperCITY at 100,000 sq ft is the country’s largest hypermarket. The company will also be looking to open hypermarkets in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderbad after its Kochi store.

According to Yusuffali MA, managing director of Emke Group, the company is
“…looking at India and now is the right time to enter this market with the booming economy and positive government policies.”
Lulu Hypermarkets have been a hit with customer’s right from the start. The company offers several additional services in its stores, such as play area for children, food courts, money exchange centers and bank counters.

International calling cards from Pingo

I had written earlier about Pingo calling cards and I heard from a friend who has starting using them that they were a really good deal. Usually, with calling cards, there are a million hassles, pin numbers to remember, sudden inexplicable depletion of minutes, bad connections and busy lines, but Pingo's phone cards don't have any of these problems.

The International prepaid calling cards from Pingo are the best way to save money as well as being the most convenient way to call overseas. The call quality of Pingo's international phone cards is superb and customer service is very quick and efficent, if you have any problems or queries. I looked up Pingo's India calling card rates and was amazed to see it was only 8 cents a minute. I don't think there's any better rate than that.

Tesco should target wholesale market in India

BBC and nasdaq.com report that ahead of the UK-India investment conference, Amit Mitra, secretary general of India’s Chamber of Commerce, said then Tesco should target India’s wholesale market initially, so that it can understand the Indian market. He added that,
"Tesco has to be bold enough to go into cash and carry. This is where Tesco has to go in; because if Metro is already there with its feet on the ground, when India's overall retail market opens they will be able to spurt."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Midnight shopping after Thanksgiving

CNN Money writes about the shopping rush happening sooner every year as several retailers are starting their Thanksgiving holiday sales at midnight this year. Typically stores open early around 5am on 'Black Friday' but increasingly shoppers are not satisfied and want special bargain hunter deals even earlier.

The largest property developer in the US, Simon Property Group's division Chelsea Property Group tested midnight openings called "Midnight Madness" at 8 locations last year. The 8 retailers were given the choice of opening at midnight and half did open at the time and this year the company is expanding the program to 25 stores.
Many store chains chalk up more than half their annual sales and profits in November and December alone, hence the term "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally marks the season when stores start moving into the black, or profitability.

It's one of the busiest shopping days of the year, second usually to the Saturday before Christmas.

Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with NPD Group, a market research firm, thinks retailers are being smart by wanting to get consumers into their stores at midnight.

"No doubt, it's a much better play to have consumers wandering in your store that early instead of waiting outside for a few hours until the store opens at 5 a.m. so that they're first to grab the hot sales," Cohen said. "The advantage of having people in your store is that you don't lose those two to three hours of sales."

Critics say the Reliance Retail model is very risky

The Financial Express reports that with the Reliance Retail model almost off the ground, global management guru Prof, Mohanbir Sawhney, director of Center for Research in Technology & Innovation at the Kellog School of Management has criticized its plans.

Prof. Sawhney who was named as one of the 25 most influential people in e-business by BusinessWeek once, said:
“The capital intensive business model of companies like Reliance Retail makes their ventures very risky. Three years down the line we may see these ventures going in for a spin-off (stake sell out).”
Navneet Saluja, CEO of Reliance Retail Delhi countered saying that:
“In India, there is space for everyone to flourish. The retail industry may adopt the cash-and-carry model for villages and small towns. Local kiranas will be allowed to source from large retail stores in such places.”
Bharti’s expansion plans are also being scrutinized by analysts, especially its plans to have trials, cultivating crops and storing products in its own cold storage facilities before sending them to retail stores. Prof. Sawhney added:
“In the medium to long run, Bharti and Reliance may be forced to outsource non-core functions like cold storage and logistics and concentrate on its core competency. Overall, I see the outsourcing model trickling down to all sectors in the future.”

Time to modernize real estate commision rates

Do you feel that real estate agents charge too much? Is they worth the cost? We have paid heavy amounts each time we have used agents for rental agreements and shudder to think what we would end up paying as commision when we finally buy our own place. Things seem to be changing though, as not everyone is happy with the high commisions that realtors make. An Austin real estate agency is offering half of its commision to buyers. So if the house you are looking at is listed with the traditional 6% commision, of which 3% goes to the listing agent and 3% goes to the selling agent, you can get 1.5% back as Alcan Properties will give back half of its share.

Welspun to bring UK brand Christy to India

Daily News & Analysis reports that with its purchase of UK towel brand Christy in July 2006, Welspun will now be bringing it to the Indian market. According to Deepali Goenka, Director of Welspun India Ltd.,
“People are demanding products that deliver value in terms of their usage and not really the pricing. Adding colour to the market is the booming housing sector which is more about selling lifestyle than just a house. Brands are finally making inroads into people’s minds in the home textile market as well.”
Welspun currently retails its products at Welspun Homemart, a factory outlet format, and at Spaces which has exclusive stores as well as shop-in-shop locations. Now the company is considering opening one more level of stores after Spaces.

At present there are 8 Spaces stores and the company is keen to increase these to 60 as well as have 150 Welspun Homemarts by 2008. The company aims to become a Rs. 500 crore company by 2008.

French footwear company Homme enters Indian market

Daily News & Analysis reports that French footwear company Homme Global will be entering the Indian market, offering its premium brand and looking to achieve a turnover of over Rs. 20 crore in its first year of operations. The company has tied up with East Face Footwear Pvt. Ltd, as its licencee to market its products in India.

The company will have two brands, Homme and Maco for sale in India. The footwear industry is estimated to be more than Rs. 4,000 crore and is likely to grow at 12-15% per annum. The premium segment of the footwear market, where Homme will be entering, is growing faster at 20% per annum.

Increase your marketing potential

The Women's Marketing Telesummit takes place from October 18-20, 2006 and is a great place for women business owners to learn about low cost marketing methods that can really change their business. Listen in and participate in roundtable discussions with experts in marketing and business issues.

The Women's Marketing Telesummit will be a great opportunity to connect with leaders in a variety of business fields with proven success stories who can help you create a marketing plan without a heavy budget or compromising your lifestyle or values. The summit will feature discussions on the different marketing techniques such as podcasting, direct mail, how to use prices to create profit, creating multiple streams of income and setting up a high-impact but low cost website that is able to generate sales.

At the Women's Summit, attendees can learn from 15 of the most successful business women on what it really takes to build a successful business, what ideas work and which ones fail and little tricks that can make the difference between success and failure. Some of the speakers at the summit will be Krishna De, Penny Haynes, Leslie Hamp and Tracey Dooley and the event will be hosted by Louisa Bird.

When you attend the Women's Marketing Telesummit, you will also have access to download the transcripts or audio recordings of any of the sessions for later use. Being a telesummit, there is no travel or hotel related expenses.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

K-State beats Oklahoma State

Kansas State beat Oklahoma State in last weekend's football game 31-27. Some details on the game from Kansas State Rivals:
Freshman Josh Freeman threw for 177 yards and ran for the go-ahead score as Kansas State rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to post a 31-27 victory over Oklahoma State in a Big 12 Conference matchup.

Leon Patton rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown, but highlighted his afternoon with a 95-yard kickoff return for the Wildcats (4-2, 1-1 Big 12 North), who have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Cowboys.

The first encounter between the two programs since 2003 was a see-saw battle until Oklahoma State (3-2, 0-1 South) opened a 27-17 lead with 10:48 to go on a one-yard pass from Bobby Reid to John Johnson.

Future Group to make special formats targeting women

The Economic Times reports that The Future Group will soon be launching two new specialty formats targeting women, as part of its plan to be a major player in the fashion apparel and accessories segments. The new concepts, named Top 10 and Ethnic City, will be aimed at both working women and students.

Kishore Biyani, CEO of The Future Group, said that “There’s a huge potential for such specialty stores. By bringing some of the best-selling youthful brands under one roof, we will be able to cater to the needs of youth who are key drivers of fashion. Our research shows college-goers have different fashion needs and prefer a store that understands their requirements. This will be Top 10's core brand value.” These stores would range from 5,000-8,000 sq ft.

Ethnic City will carry Indian garments along with accessories such as bangles, stoles and footwear. The growth of this segment has come from the company’s experience of selling ethnic clothes in both Pantaloon and Big Bazaar.

Freebie Fanatic

If you like stuff for free, then this is your lucky day! I found this site called Freebie Fanatic which has tons of terrific free stuff. There are free samples, free coupons, and even free stuff for pets. Freebie Fanatic literally has hundreds of articles on these topics and more.

The site is easy to navigate, with all categories listed on the left bar for easy access. Some of the most popular categories are for free food, where you can get free samples and free stuff for a variety items such as a Kraft Food & Family Magazine and Calendar for 2006, Yogi Tea's sample, Ensure shake sample and free chocolate.

In the section of wedding freebies, you can sign up for a free subscription for a bridal magazine and other free stuff for a wedding. In the free stuff for babies section, there free cereal bowls for babies on offer, toys and nutritional stuff on offer.

Disney to open stores in India

Reuters and The Economic Times report that Disney will be entering the Indian market through a license agreement with Indian partner Ravi Jaipuria's company by the end of October. Disney will open two stores in Delhi initially, before expanding to other metro cities.

The Jaipuria Group is the leading bottler of Coke in India and has a wide range of business interests including apparel, accessories, footwear, toys, food, health and beauty products, consumer electronics and stationary items. The company’s subsidiary Devyanni International has the liscence for UK company Costa Coffee. Disney recently bought Hungama, an Indian TV channel for children for $30.5 million.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Aaj jaane kii zid na karo-Farida Khanum

Words to one of my favorite ghazals of all time.

Aaj jaane kii zid na karo
--Farida Khanum

Aaj jaane ki zid na karo (3)
Yunhi pehloo mein baithe raho (2)
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
Haay mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge
Aisi baatein kiya na karo
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo (2)
Haay mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge
Aisi baatein kiya na karo
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo

Tum hi socho zara, kyun na roke tumhe
Jaan jaati hai jab uth ke jaate ho tum (2)
Tumko apni qasam jaan-e-jaan
Baat itni meri maan lo
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
Yunhi pehloo mein baithe raho (2)
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
Haay mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge
Aisi baatein kiya na karo
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo

Waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai magar (2)
Chand ghadiyan yehi hain jo aazad hain (2)
Inko khokar mere jaan-e-jaan
Umr bhar na taraste raho
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
Haay mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge
Aisi baatein kiya na karo
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo

Kitna maasoom rangeen hai yeh sama
Husn aur ishq ki aaj mein raaj hai (2)
Kal ki kisko khabar jaan-e-jaan
Rok lo aaj ki raat ko
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
Yunhi pehloo mein baithe raho (2)
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
Haay mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge
Aisi baatein kiya na karo
Aaj jaane ki zid na karo

source: Hindi Lyrix

On the Beach

I used to work as a travel agent several years ago, when online bookings were just getting off the ground. Now days, the preferred method of booking is all online, and travel agency companies that have adapted to this method will gain customers both ways, traditional walk-ins as well as the more tech savvy online users.

On the Beach Holidays is located in the UK and specializes in organizing cheap holidays to locations such as Cypress, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mediterranean and several other destinations. Their most popular type of booking is the all inclusive holiday.

Cypress is on the top of my list of must-see spots, so I planned a holiday there using On the Beach’s complete vacation planner for a 7 day vacation. The total cost of the vacation, including flights and hotel stay for 2 persons came only to £397. Can you believe that? This is one super site that I’m definitely going to bookmark.

Indie bookstores fight back

The Washington Post writes about how large book retailers such as Borders and Barnes & Noble and online retailers Amazon, had all but killed the local independently owned book stores, who are now fighting back with creativity, converting their stores to cafe's or book clubs or speciality stores focusing only on a particular genre of books. The number of independent bookstores has been reducing by 200-300 per year, but now these stores are slowly increasing in number again.
For a long time, from 1992 to 2002, you literally could count on two hands the number of openings," said Oren Teicher, chief operating officer of the American Booksellers Association. "In the last three years there are 60, 70, 80 stores opening" each year, he said.
When I was in college at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, I went to the KSU Union Bookstore or Varney's only to buy and sell my textbooks, never for any other reading material. For books to buy and hold on to forever, I went to Claflin Books, a really cute little store at the north end of campus, or to Dusty Bookshelf in Aggieville for biographies and romance novels. These stores had character and ambience, they offered a unique experience that went beyond just buying a book. I treasure my bookmarks from Dusty's to this day.

Safe transactions

The PreCharge Risk Management Solution is changing the way ecommerce is conducted. It is a system that allows businesses to screen credit, debit and gift cards in over 150 currencies to catch frauds. With the rise of online commerce, companies now rely on the internet for a greater part of their sales and it is absolutely essential for these transactions to be secure and real. Using the Certified Payments program of preCharge, sales are sure to increase and frauds and backcharges will definately decrease.

Big box retailers try out multi-level layouts

The Miami Herald reports that more and more stores are changing their layouts to fit with the changing urban landscape. Instead of the traditional one level stores, an increasing number of stores are opting for multi-level layouts. Big Box retailing has been growing at a fast pace in recent years but now retailers are now willing to experiment with newer and different layouts and formats.

Target has 33 multilevel stores nationwide, including one in Deerfield Beach that opened in 2001. The Target opening today in Midtown Miami has multilevel parking attached. Wal-Mart, Costco and The Home Depot have all been experimenting with slimmed-down, vertical stores around the country.

Mojito set

I had a mojito for the first time in The Park, Bangalore, one of the hippest and wackiest of hotels. We had gone to celebrate my birthday there with family and friends. The mojito is always served in a special glass and is made of mint, rum, powdered sugar, lime juice and club soda. Simple ingredients with amazing results. Now get your own Mojito set, complete with painted glasses, stirers and receipe book to create the perfect one at home.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Create energy by dancing

Springwise.com reports on a new trend and this is one helluva interesting idea. Two firms in The Netherlands, Enviu and Doll have collaborated to create an environmentally friendly and self sustaining nightclub called the Sustainable Dance Club, including energy generating dance floors, rain powered flushes of the toilets, walls that change according to temperatures, a rooftop garden and lots more.
Working with the Technical University of Delft and the Development Board of Rotterdam, Enviu and Döll aim to build a club that will be fun and profitable, yet will have a low impact on the environment, while raising awareness for social and environmental issues. Some 80 Enviu volunteers (young professionals and students) have developed the concept over the last 8 months.

Lladro gets permission to enter Indian retail market

The Telegraph reports that Spanish porcelain manufacturer Lladro has been approved by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to enter in the Indian market. The company has set up a joint venture with Spa Agencies to open retail stores in India. Lladro will hold a 24% stake in the venture with an option to increase it to 49% by 2009. The new company will be called Lladro India and its parent company will invest Rs. 225 million to establish its stores.

Virtual Assistants to the rescue

So, do you think your business is being held back by the lack of professional services? If so, then a Virtual Assistant might do the trick for you. Using a Virtual Assistant can let you focus on your core business, rather than getting bogged down by administrative and technical work. The INVESP virtual assistant does just that, and lets you focus only on your work.

The INVESP virtual assistants provide superior and experienced service to take care of all support functions using the latest technology and still playing attention to customer service. The virtual assistant takes care of a variety of tasks such as financial support solutions, office support solutions, design solutions such as designing a brochure or letterhead.

Technology retail is booming

The Economic Times reports that retailers in India are buyont on technology and consumer durable retail, keeping high stocks of gadgets and tech toys like phones, data storage devices, digital cameras, MP3 players, gaming consoles etc. The market for these products is estimated to be worth around $250 million annually and is growing at 100%, leading to retailers pushing for stocking these products.

The Tata Group announced it will be opening Croma to cater to all brands of products such as computers, communication devices, music, gaming and appliances. Pantaloon has also opened its own store for electronic items called e-Zones which has a wide selection of technical toys and gadgets.

Plannng the perfect tropical vacation

Growing up in the Himalayas, I always thought myself to be a mountain person. For every vacation, I never even considered going to a beach destination, it was always a mountainous destination. Until I went to Goa in December 2000, that is. Then everything changed. I had never imagined that the beach would be so inviting, so mesmerizing, so utterly captivating.

There is a special charm to vacationing at tropical locations. Since that first visit to Goa, I have gone back several times and make it a point to explore other tropical locations too. From the US, the Caribbean is a great place to go for tropical vacations, it is easily accessible for quick weekend trips, the US currency is accepted in most places and there is a wide variety of hotels and resorts, whether on the beach or inland in a tropical forest.

Warm Islands is the perfect place to find out more about where to go for a perfect tropical vacation, whether it is the Caribbean, Hawaii, the islands of the south Pacific or the Mediterranean. Each regional section is broken up into further subdivisions which have all the details about the location, its weather, local activities and sightseeing, places to stay, sporting activities and the history to make for a fantasy vacation.

In south-east Asia, Bali, Phuket, Koh Samui and Langkawi are some of the preferred destinations that are a great starting place for exploring the regions. If you're keen on going for a tropical vacation, but are not sure, where to go, when to go and where to stay, then you must have a look at the member forums on the Warm Island site. This is a great place to hear firsthand what other travelers have to say about these destinations. It's always nice to know first hand someone else's experience of the place, before one finalizes everything.

Weekend movies

We finally saw Lage Raho Munnabhai this weekend and thoroughy enjoyed it. Once again, the concept was new, innovative and handled well. Characters were deeply sketched and besides a few instances, the movie was in general quite believable. Using Gandhi's philosophy in such a innovative way and applying it to today's problems and people was a fabulous concept. Boman Irani as Lucky Singh was simply outstanding. He really managed to get into the skin of the character, whether it was the accent, the clothes, the turban, the mannerisms, everything about him was just perfect.

Besides Lage Raho...,we also watched several movies at home this weekend....Krishh, A Fish called Wanda and Cheaper by the Dozen.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Costa Rica

I hear that Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The country shares its borders with Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, and has shores along the Pacific Ocean as well as the Caribbean Sea. The country also has several islands, of which Calero Island is the largest. The Costa Rica Forum is a great place to get some detailed information about the country.

Cross country by train


While I was researching one of my earlier posts on Glenwood Springs, I came across a site which had the detailed listing of all the route and description of the California Zephyr, the train that I took from Chicago to San Francisco one summer in college. I wish I had such a listing and description with me then, so I could have known more about the area I was traveling through. The train schedule is designed so that the incredible view can be seen in the daylight hours, while one sleeps when crossing the plain states.

Made in America computer furniture

If you are particular about buying only American made computer furniture then have a look at the Verstables range of furniture. The company has a selection of only 100% US made products and offers a very high level of customer service. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, no need to worry, Versatables offers a 100% satisfaction or money back guarantee. Each purchase also gives you a lifetime warranty on your products.

Pantaloon signs agreement with Alpha Airports Group

The Economic Times reports that Pantaloon Retail will be forming a 50:50 joint venture with UK based Alpha Airports Group plc. to develop retail stores focusing on travel and food in airports in India. The UK based company has 150 stores in 15 countries and has an annual turnover of more than $880 million. The company has already been operating duty-free shops since 2002 at the Cochin International Airport.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs is a beautiful and mountainous region which is also the county seat of Colorado's Garfield County. The city has several municipal and administrative offices such as the Courts, the Garfield County Jail and the Three Rivers Regional Library Service System, with the Colorado Mountain College close by. The city is well located with Aspen 40 minutes to the south, Vail 45 minutes to the east and Grand Junction 90 minutes west.

The city is unique due to its location at the confluence of two of the regions main rivers, the Colorado and the Roaring Fork Rivers. When the stop at Glenwood Springs on the railroad opened in 1887 and the Glenwood railway station called the 'Depot' opened 1904, the city became a popular stop for both tourists and commerce activities.

I remember visiting Glenwood Springs on my cross country trip across the US one summer when I was in college. I traveled from Washington DC to San Francisco on Amtrak with a change at Chicago, where I boarded the famous California Zephyr train, with its dome roofs, lounge cars with sofa's facing the windows. I clearly remember Glenwood Springs as the track goes along the Colorado River with Interstate 70 across the river. The Glenwood Canyon is incredible and awe inspiring to see in person.

The city has had its share of interesting residents and characters associated with it. Doc Holliday, the infamous gunslinger and legend is buried there and the city was President Teddy Roosevelt's favorite, who liked to stay at the Colorado Hotel and the waters of the Yampa Hot Springs, which is one of the largest outdoor pools in the world.

Glenwood Springs is a great place for history, nature, relaxation at the hot springs and sporting activities. For more detailed information on the city, have a look at this site on Glenwood Springs and also check the Roaring Fork Wiki site for other information on the area.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Test sleep a house before buying

Springwise.com writes about New Zealand company Rautuna, that allows customers to test their sample home with an overnight stay. Potential customers can get a feel of the layout by staying in one of the company's straw built homes, to see if it would really suit them for the long term.
The concept enables consumers to make a more informed purchase decision based on what they know they like in a home, rather than what they think they might like. There’s no doubt that there is a lot of emotional stress involved when purchasing something as major as a house and the try-before-you-buy idea seeks to lessen consumers' pre-purchase tension.