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Changing scene

With the Indian consumer’s lifestyle habits shifting from austerity to complete self indulgence, retail today is perhaps the fastest growing sectors in the country, reports Vandana Ramnani.

delhi Updated: May 20, 2008, 00:39 IST
Vandana Ramnani
Vandana Ramnani
Hindustan Times

With the Indian consumer’s lifestyle habits shifting from austerity to complete self indulgence, retail today is perhaps the fastest growing sectors in the country. A young population and zooming consumer confidence has triggered the expansion of the sector.

There is tremendous activity being witnessed in the sector in terms of expansion and entry of international brands and retailers.

Today, the sector is being looked upon not only as a harbinger of limitless opportunities for youngsters but also as a catalyst for the growth of the Indian economy. Retail revolution is something that the country simply cannot ignore. The mall culture is no longer limited to big cities.

Today, the stand-alone and kirana stores blissfully co-exist with malls, hypermarkets, supermarkets and lifestyle stores. About a million square feet of retail space is being added every year and more options are being experimented with to provide the best to the Indian consumer.

The modern retailer is essentially looking at property and people for expansion. And, in a people-contact business, those with communication skills call the shots.

The sector offers a plethora of career opportunities for the youth. There is an explosion of jobs within the sector in areas such as architecture, mall operations, mall leasing and even facilities management.

With over 50,000 people being added to the hypermarket and lifestyle formats alone every year, retail is a good career option not only for the young but also for retired personnel.

The huge growth of the Indian economy means that more people have more money to spend and the retail industry - with thousands of exciting and diverse job opportunities - is reaping the rewards.

Across India, the top 50 retailers will invest US$35 billion in modern retail in the next six years and Mumbai has emerged as the country's retail capital. Everywhere you look, malls, supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores and gourmet food stores have sprung up and jobs have followed.

The growing middle classes - 70 million consumers are projected to become middle class over the next five years - are now demanding a better lifestyle and they have the money to pay for it.

Arvind Singhal, chairman of management consultants, Technopak Advisors, says that Mumbai has been the epicentre because the retail explosion here has had a domino effect.

The Major corporate houses that have diversified into retail, such as Tata Group, Godrej, Aditya Birla, K Rajeha Group and the Future Group, are all headquartered here.

Moreover, the early entrants into the sector such as Shoppers Stop, Pantaloon, Crossword and Globus started here. Other trailblazing formats such as Hypercity, Croma and Nature's Basket - which originated here - are about to be rolled out across the country.

HyperCITY plans to open up 68 new hypermarkets in the next five years and increase its staff sixfold by the end of the year.

The Tata Group's retail arm, Infiniti, will open 100 Croma stores by 2010 and hire 2,000 new employees from April.
The Future Group, which owns Big Bazaar and Pantaloon, will increase its staff fivefold to 125,000 by 2010.
They are all anticipating major growth in revenues too.

Hypercity already has revenues of Rs1.8bn rupees. By December it anticipates a turnover of Rs 6.6 billion. The Future Group anticipates revenues of Rs 7,500 crore this financial year.

By 2010, this will more than triple to reach Rs 25,000 crore.

One of the major challenges to the industry is the lack of skilled professionals and manpower. Rupesh Basu, business head, Hypercity, said: "I think there will be a movement of people from call centres into the retail industry. The challenge is to create loyalty in staff and rather than them leaving to work in other industries we want them to make retail a career of choice."

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