Kishore Biyani-led Future Group, which owns the Big Bazaar chain, is now increasing its focus in neighbourhood stores, particularly with the recently acquired Big Apple chain in Delhi and the homegrown brand KB’s Fair Price in the rest of India.
“We are now looking at the entire opportunity in the neighbourhood stores space, with ambition,” said Damodar Mall, director, food strategy, Future Group. (Mall spoke to HT before informed sources said he had decided to quit the group).
“Consumers in Delhi are familiar with the Big Apple brand and we believe it has potential for further growth,” he said. “We refurbished the operations and integrated the backend with KB's Fair Price. The brand has done a complete turnaround within three months.”
The company acquired Big Apple from Express Retail services in September 2012. Big Apple currently has 38 stores and KB's Fair Price has 82 stores.
Future Ventures, the Group’s retail arm, plans to scale up with 300 new stores in Delhi alone over the next 18-24 months.
Future Ventures is also open to more acquisitions in the food and grocery space as it sees neighbourhood stores as holding huge potential. It is in the process of identifying 10,000 franchisees to expand the KB's chain, and envisages the neighbourhood store business to hit least R3,000 crore within a year.
In many neighborhoods KB’s Fair Price and Big Apple are running together. Future Ventures may take the Big Apple brand to other markets including Mumbai and Bengaluru. “KB is a crucial part of our neighbourhood retail strategy but we believe a market like India requires the multi brand approach,” Mall said.
Sources at the Future Group on Sunday said that Damodar Mall, a key member of Kishore Biyani’s retail team, has resigned. Reasons for his departure were not immediately known, but coming at a time when foreign retailers are looking to expand in India, it poses a challenge to incumbent leader Big Bazaar, the main retail chain of the Future Group. Mall did not take calls, while Biyani refused to confirm or deny the development.