Saturday, November 18, 2006

On vacation

So, I'm off to the US and Canada for 3 weeks. Looking forward to the trip, but will miss my daily writing routine and hope that I will be able to fit a bit in every now and then. My last vacation was to the interiors of Himachal and totally internet and blog free, but this time although I will have access, I'm not sure if I will have the time.

Retail training skills

The Hindu Business Line reports that the Retailers Association of India (RAI) announced that it has started a professional retailing skills (PRS) course that is designed specifically to teach skills in retail. The programme has been started in association with the S B Global School of Retail Management in Kochi. The course duration is 100 hours and there is also an internship with a RAI member company for an additional 50 hours.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Papa Johns plans to invest Rs. 100 crore in India operations

The Economic Times reports that US pizza chain, Papa Johns announced that it would be opening 100 outlets in northern India with an investment of Rs. 100 crore. The company had recently opened stores in India. Initially, the company had planned to open 500 stores over the next 10 years, but with the robust growth and competition in the pizza industry, the company has now upgraded its expansion. Kamal R Tandon, chairman of Papa Johns India, said that the company’s, "…focus areas in North India would be cities in Punjab - Amritsar, Ludhiana and Rajasthan and the NCR region."

Subhiksha to cross 500 stores this month

The Economic Times reports that discount food retailer Subhiksha is likely to cross 500 stores this month and is building its private label brand and its mobile phone and pharmacy sections. The company will be opening 100 new stores this month to reach a total of 500 stores. Subhiksha is happy with the results of its phone retailing that it started in Delhi last month and is considering setting up a separate chain for the segment along with one for pharmacy products.

By March 2007, the company hopes to reach 750 stores. Store openings are happening at a faster pace now, due to adequate funds being raised and the company fixing its backend integration. The company has allocated Rs. 300 crore for its expansion, raising money through debt, equity and working financial capital.

Alpha-Pantaloon win contract for duty free shop at Delhi airport

The Economic Times reports that Delhi’s Inidira Gandhi International Airport will be getting a face lift with the Alpha Airports Group Plc and Pantaloon Retail being awarded a contract to set up duty free shops. Alpha plans to bring in international brands such as Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Nike and Swatch to the airport and offer world class shopping standards. The upgrade would take place by 2010, when the new terminal would also be ready.

Retail training skills

The Hindu Business Line reports that the Retailers Association of India (RAI) announced that it has started a professional retailing skills (PRS) course that is designed specifically to teach skills in retail. The programme has been started in association with the S B Global School of Retail Management in Kochi. The course duration is 100 hours and there is also an internship with a RAI member company for an additional 50 hours.

Flooring options

My neighbor is doing a minor renovation to her apartment these days. She has a beautiful apartment, and even though our apartments are the same configuration, she has made several changes internally and given a completely new look to her home. The changes have been designed by her sister, who is an interior designer and a really great one at that. Her apartment looks close to double the size of mine, just with chaning a few walls and rooms around. At present she is only doing a slight overhaul of the apartment, re-doing the crown molding, re-painting the walls, putting in some new shelving units etc.

She was very keen on changing the flooring too, although she has some really great pieces of Italian marble. I suggested she try putting in ceramic tile for the kitchen floor, which would give a nice earthy look. Doing some research for her, I found lots of information on ceramic tile floors at which has over 16,000 different products available and is one of the only online stores to sell tile and stone flooring products. Have a look at Ceramic Tile On Sale - Fast Floors. Their site is easy to navigate and see the products, although I would love to see pictures of the products used in rooms to get a better idea of how they will look when complete. The sales team is knoledgeble and helfpul too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Murjani to bring Diesel brand to India

The Economic Times reports that one of the world’s leading fashion brands, Diesel is likely to be entering the Indian market with master franchise agreement with The Murjani Group. Once through, the franchise agreement will cover all Diesel product categories and based on the success in the Indian market, will then extend to other South Asian markets.
Diesel is an Italian designer clothing brand which manufactures apparel for both men and women in the 18-35 age groups. Diesel also produces a kids and sportswear line, although, denim sales make up for most of the brand’s business.

The company has more than 200 retail outlets worldwide and also wholesales to retail boutiques and department stores. The Diesel brand name is also licensed to other companies for producing footwear, leather goods, eyewear and jewellery.

Reliance Retail’s dairy business strategy might not be easy

Daily News & Analysis reports that Reliance Retail’s mega plans for its dairy business might not as smooth as they would want it to be. So far, the company has acquired milk processing units in Punjab and other close by areas and has a capacity to procure 400,000 litres of fresh milk on a daily basis, which will be increased to 700,000 litres per day.

The company has also started talks with some of the leading dairy companies in India, such as Mother Dairy, Gujarat Cooperative Milk marketing Federation (GCMMF) and Nestle to form a partnership to supply fresh milk to them. The problem lies in the fact that these companies are not likely to want to deal with a middleman and would rather deal with the farmers directly. In this regard, RS. Sodhi, general manager (Marketing) for GCMMF said that, “We have no plans to contract manufacture dairy products for anyone.”

Wood projects

I've always loved art and although I tried my hand at painting and drawing, I was really no good. In my Art 101 class in college, I discovered that I was good at art and crafts and other creative stuff that did not require me to draw and over the years I have made some really fun projects using a variety of products such as bamboo, wood, metal, leaves, rope etc. I do wish I had learnt a bit more about more detailed and technical woodworking projects using wood routers. Lately I have been reading up on doing some new fun projects for the holidays and found some good articles on woodworking at, which has lots of information on router tables, router bits, router lifts, best accessories to use and of course lots of woodworking plans. So, have a look at what all you can do with router wood if you are a budding woodworker or someone who would like to try their hand at something new, then this is a great site to get some information and project ideas.

DTC puts in Rs. 15 crore for new jewelry range

Business Standard reports that De Beers marketing division, the Diamond Trading Corporation announced that it will be investing Rs. 15 crore to promote and expand its range of products in India, including its new collection of solitaire diamonds, called Forever Mark. The new line will be launched in January 2007 and each of its diamonds will have a hallmark.
DTC is planning to spend another Rs 50 crore, allocated for marketing all its brands, to promote the collection that has already been launched in Hong Kong and would be launched in Japan later this month. China and the Gulf countries would see its launch in March and May 2007, respectively.

Winter shopping

Since we moved back to India from Providence, RI in 2004, we've been living in warm climates, first in Bangalore and now in Bombay where there is no winter at all. The only change that happens is that for 2 months (december and january) the weather becomes somewhat bearable. With my trip to the US and Canada coming up this weekend, I am quite concerned about being able to handle the cold again. The forecast for Toronto is 35F and snow and sleet when we arrive monday, yucky yuck.

So, to make the best of the situation, I have decided to do some winter shopping. First on my list is a pair of boots, that can handle the cold and snow but also manage to look great. Uggs are simply the best solution, and will keep my open-toe-sandal-inclined-feet warm and toasty. But where to buy them in Bombay? Well, is a great place to buy Ugg footwear as they have a huge range of styles, sizes etc. I really like them for their balance of both style and comfort.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Future Group’s 5th Central Mall to be in Ahmedabad

Business Standard reports that The Future Group will be opening its 5th Central Mall in Ahmedabad by 2009. Although the company had identified some locations in the city, it was yet to finalize the decision. Sadashiv Nayak, head of operations (west zone) Pantaloon Retail said, “We will be coming up with a central mall in Ahmedabad and the work will be completed in three years.” The project will be constructed by Kshitij Real Estate Fund, which is owned jointly by Pantaloon and a private equity fund.

Dabur launches ‘DARE’ to improve its distribution system

The Economic Times reports that Dabur India has launched DARE, Driving Achievement of Retail Excellence, to reorganize its sales team and to improve its distribution efficiencies. This new strategy is part of its Dabur India’s Vision 2010, which aims to double its revenue and profits over the next four years through expansion, innovation and acquisition.

The company has investing Rs. 20 crore in its first phase during which 500,000 towns and rural markets will be covered. The company has formed special sales teams focusing on rural market for six states-Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Tricks to searching

I love to find interesting reading material on the web that I can add to my bloglines account. This is one such site that I like to read on a daily basis. SEO'Brien is a blog written by Paul O'Brien, formerly with Yahoo and now in Online Marketing at HP. Paul writes on search engine optimization and how it can increase revenues whether it is using paid of natural search engines. Have a look for yourself at Search Engine optimization and online marketing from SEO'Brien. Search engine optimization is simply a way to get more customers to come to your site and Paul has defined several methods to do this such as searching by behavior or region and also using comparison shopping and affiliate searches.

Can the retail sector accommodate everyone?

The Hindu Business Line reports that with the big guns of retail focusing on Hyderabad and opening multiple stores, local vendors worry that the market might not have room for them anymore. With Reliance, Subhiksha, FoodWorld and Spencers buying fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers, local vendors who cannot source directly for farmers and have to use middlemen might become more expensive then modern retail outlets.

Another concern is that modern format retailers will purchase all the good quality produce, and only second grade produce will be left for the lower-income groups. Mr Madhu, a senior CPM leader and Rajya Sabha member said that
"They (the organised players) sell at low rates initially. But once their supplies are streamlined, they will increase prices sharply."

Wall Decor

I love browsing through home decor magazines, reading the latest trends in home furnishings on the Internet and watching home makeover shows on TV. Over the years, I have been able to refine and pin down my style of decor as contemporary but with lots of warm, even country, touches and definitely some quirky items to add that spark. Although I grew up in a city, a lot of my time was spent in more country settings, like the boarding school in the hills where I studied for 7 years or our summer vacations spent at our peach orchard in the hills. The orchard especially has had a strong influence on my decorating style.

Nature, plants, flowers and an inviting light filled atmosphere are very important to me in a house. Although I am not fond of ornate stuff, I do like a lot of wrought iron decor pieces, such as wall ornaments. I especially like to use Wall Home Decor pieces as accent points in the garden and patio, with the plants all around them, they take on a decidedly old world feel. I found the Wrought Iron Decor Store on the Internet and loved a lot of the items it had, especially the flower boxes and plant stands.

Bharti retail venture delayed, might join Wal-Mart reports that Bharti Enterprises anticipated deal with Tesco might not be happening after all and according to sources, the company is likely to join up with Wal-Mart. The company has traditionally set up its own stores everywhere it goes but is likely to follow the joint venture route to gain access to the Indian market. Wal-Mart already has its strategy in place, and plans to focus on small cities and metros, opening 12-18 stores in the first year and a half. The size of the stores will not be more than 140,000 sq ft.
Bharti has 5700 acres in Punjab and will package and export to EU, Southeast Asia, the Gulf and Central Asia within the next few months.

For Wal Mart, India may be its wildcard because it has withdrawn from South Korea and now left with presence only in one other Asian country that's China.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Health boosters

Even if you lead a healthy lifestyle and eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, it is important to take vitamin supplements. This is mostly due to lowering of nutritional values of most healthy food, due to depleted soils, over use of agricultural sprays and ripening agents. It has become our habit to take one daily vitamin tablet and one ginseng tablet every morning. Cooking food using healthy oils like olive are great and we alternate between that and vegetable oil. Using Ginger Root in your cooking is also a good way to improve one's health. Although, we don't really have a winter in Bombay, the season is changing and its prime time to catch a cold and sore throat, like we've had last week. The best solution for a sore throat is to add a bit of ginger in your tea. A few pods of whole pepper are a great help too.

Wal-Marts effort to become trendier

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Wal-Mart is working hard to convince consumers that the store is a great fashion destination too, and not just for basics. Rival Target has already carved a niche for itself for providing cheap chic merchandise, whether it is apparel or home furnishings. Wal-Mart has held a fashion show during New York's Fashion Week, hired a NYC trendspotting company and brought in new brands to improve its image. The company did falter by stocking up too much trendy merchandise, such as the skinny jean, which did not sell well and led to low sales in September and October.
The upgrading of its fashion is part of the company's larger campaign to expand into better quality, trendier merchandise to revitalize anemic sales and sluggish profit growth, a strategy that has gotten mixed grades from its customers so far.

Wal-Mart, which has built its reputation on selling basics like socks and detergent, made a push into $2,000 flat-screen TVs and other trendy electronics, 600-thread count sheets and organic foods. The goal is to pry more money from the hands of its wealthier customers, diversifying beyond its core-low income shoppers who are more vulnerable to economic downturns.

On floors

I've always loved wooden flooring. In our house in Bangalore, we had wood floors in our bedrooms and I loved the effect it had on the ambience of the room. Here, in Bombay, we don't have wood flooring since it's just not condusive in this humid weather. When we make our own house, we will definately be putting in wood floors in some of the rooms, most likely the bedrooms and study. Having a Laminate Floor isn't a bad alternative either. It is easy to install, easy to take care of, and lasts a long time.

A new way to decide what to eat

Now here's an interesting twist to the regular run-of-the-mill recipe sites. is also a recipe site but with lots of differences. I love the Leftover Wizard on the Find menu which allows you to enter in what you have in your fridge and figure out what dish can be made out of it. Check out the BigOven Recipe Software - 160,000 Recipes for yourself, and see what all it comes up with for you and your fridge. There is a section for each type of cuisine, Eastern European, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai etc and also by ingredient, preparation method (such as bake, grill, broil etc), season or holiday and by course or dish. All in all it is quite a through and in depth site on a variety of recipes.

Increasing online shopping and research

The Washington Post writes about how consumers are deciding what to buy based on research online. According to research done by comScore Networks, almost half of the shoppers will buy at least one product online this holiday season. With internet retailing expected to cross $100 billion this year, retailers are taking no chances and are increasing promotions and marketing activities on their websites.
Free shipping has become almost standard during the holidays, but be wary of blowing that savings in add-ons such as gift wrapping, personalized messages or express mail. Also keep in mind that your gifts need to be ordered several days before Christmas to receive them in time for the holiday -- even if you do splurge on overnight shipping. The last day that will guarantee Christmas delivery for free holiday shipping is Dec. 15, a spokesman said.

Dell Coupons

I came across this site offering great deals on Dell products, such as the Dell Inspiron 1501 Lapton for $634 after a deduction of 20%, instantly saving $159. There are lots of different deals and the it pays to check the site regularly as new Dell Coupon Codes and deals are added and updations are made hourly. Besides the hardware, I found the section on accessories such as laptop bags and iPods quite useful.

Modern retail formats create new marketing strategy

The Economic Times reports that in an interesting turn of events, modern food retail chains such as Spinach, Reliance Fresh, Spencers and Food Bazaar are all in talks with local mom and pop grocers to stock and distribute their in-house brands in the food, home and personal care categories. If kirana stores agree, they will be able to get higher margins on them in comparison to established brands and the retailers get higher volumes. These private labels will be sold either under their current brand names or would be changed to new names. With competition growing between the two formats, kirana stores are wooing customers with multi-pack offerings, larger product categories and new ways to grow the business. Private labels are generally 20-25% cheaper than national brands.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Organized retail majors record over 50% growth in Q2

The Economic Times reports that the top five retailers in the organized retail sector have had a phenomenal performance this past quarter, with a combined net sales growth of more than 50% for the quarter than ended September 2006. The top five retailers, Pantaloon Retail, Shoppers’ Stop, Trent, Titan Industries and Provogue, have combined net sales growth of 52% and net profit growth of 22%. Pantaloon Retail had the highest net sales growth at 65%, its value segment increasing by 78% and lifestyle segment increasing by 50%. Value retail accounts for close to 72% of the company’s turnover.

On moving back

When we moved back to India in 2004, we decided to live in Bangalore to set up an office there to expand our business. Since we had come back from the States with only our suitcases, we had to buy everything from scratch again here. It was heartbreaking to not bring our household things back with us, but it just wasn't worth the hassle. We gave everything we owned, furniture, electronics, kitchen stuff, linen to our good friends and neighbors Sam and Claudia to do with as they pleased.

I especially miss my white china set, my beautiful folding bamboo chairs and my absolutely handy wooden ladder and stool. I would have thought that it would have been easy to find another similar one here, since most of those ladders were made right here in India, but unfortunately I've not been able to find something similar to these little giant ladders. What I really liked about it was that it was very stable and steady, since I am quite clumsy, so ladder safety is high on my priority. Although we managed to get very similar things to what we had in the Providence, certain handy tools and gadgets required for making home improvements are hard to find here, since the concept of DIY is not too big. Moving back to India has been a good experience so far, although we really do miss our life there, having studied in college and lived most of our adult lives in the US.

Weekend golf

More on golf.
It was a dissapointing finish for Jyoti Randhawa at the HSBC Golf Champions Trophy, who finished tied for the 9th position after a fiery start. Other Indian golfers, Jeev Milkha Singh (from my hometown Chandigarh. I was rooting for him especially after his win at the Volvo Masters in Spain last week.) finished 17th and Shiv Kapoor tied for the 18th postition. Tiger Woods finished 2nd and the winner was Korean Yong-eun Yang, a little known player propelled to the big league.
Read more on the tourament and the players at the HSBC golf site.

Adidas to select local golfer to endorse products

The Economic Times reports that Taylormade-Adidas Golf, a division of Adidas, will be selecting a local golfer to endorse its golf wear products which it will be introducing in India next year. The company already has signed Virender Sehwag to endorse certain Adidas products. Adidas plans to promote golf in India and has started a pilot project at two schools in Delhi and Bangalore where it provided students with free equipment and coaching.

George Soros sets his sights on Indian retail sector

The Economic Times reports that the Indian retail industry has caught the attention of George Soros, world famous investor and one of the richest people in the world, who is keen on investing in the agro-based industries, retail and real estate sectors. He will be visiting India in mid December, when he also has plans to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and most likely be announcing which companies he is interested in.

Eddy Zuaiter, chief of Soros Fund Management, was in the country earlier to meet senior corporate and government officials, has already done the initial groundwork. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of state for commerce, is the coordinator between the Indian government and Soros, said,
"It signals that India is a good investment destination especially when people like Soros are investing their personal wealth."


Weddings are a really big deal here in India, not only for the bride and groom but also for the parents. Traditionally, mothers start collecting wedding jewelry and special clothing from the time a child is born. There is a lot of emphasis on the jewelry in any wedding, that which is actually worn at the wedding ceremony and other pieces worn for other wedding related occasions.

When I got married, I wore my mother's kundan set which she got on her wedding my her mother-in-law. Bought in Jaipur at Surana's, one of the most famous jewelry shops in the world, Surana's is to India what Cartier and Tiffany are to the western world. The set itself was massive and has heavy earnings and a ring, all in the famous red kundan style that Surana is famous for.

My husband's ring was made at our old family jewelers shop in Delhi's Connaught Place, where we have traditionally bought all men's wedding rings in the family, going back to my grandfather’s time. My own engagement ring is a beautiful 3 diamond setting, set in yellow gold. It was at our engagement ceremony that I first saw the ring, rather than at the proposal, which in fact was quite a casual thing actually.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Raymond signs agreement with Italian fashion company, Grotto

Raymond has formed an equal partnership joint venture with Grotto SpA, an Italian fashion company, to launch its Italian fashion brand GAS in India. The brand will be available at its flagship and exclusive stores as well as large format and multi-brand outlets, creating a total of 600 points-of-sale in three years. The companies are targeting a turnover of Rs. 1250 million in three years.

The first GAS store will be opening in early 2007. According to Aldo Palmeri, vice chairman and member on the board of Grotto SpA, "Right now, we are looking at distribution in the Indian market. In the future, we will look to manufacture in India as well."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

How many flashlights are enough?

When we used to live in Bangalore, we had to have flashlights and candles ready all the time, as the electricity used to go quite regularly. Our apartment, unfortunately, did not have a power backup system than most of the new residential complexes now have, so we just had to have everything ready to manage on our own, flashlights etc. Although, the power never went for too long, it went almost every second day or each time it rained, which comes to the same thing in Bangalore. With the weather being so great there, one didn't miss the fan too much, but not having the lights, geyser or oven working did cause some hassles.

So, I used to keep a variety of flashlights all over the house, so no matter where you were, you could easily find one. There was a small penlight in the wicker basket by the front door, strong and steady freestanding ones for the kitchen and baths and a variety of other ones scattered around the house in the bedrooms, living and dining rooms. Although we didn't need industrial strength flashlights like the SureFire or Streamlight that are used by the police and fire departments, we did need to have lots of flashlights available at all times.

Hakoba plans expansion

Embroidery textile and apparel manufacturer Hakoba Lifestyle will be planning several brand extensions in the next year, including lines for menswear, home textiles and lingerie. The company will also be expanding its network of stores from its current 50 to 200 by the year 2009. Multi brand outlets will be increased from the current 200 to 800 also.

Hakoba is a Rs. 22 crore company and Rajkumar Sekhani, director of Hakoba Lifestyle plans to increase revenues to Rs. 150-175 by 2009. At present the company is located in 26 cities and will be focusing on tier II and tier III cities for its expansion. Hakoba also plans to enter the Middle East market in the near future.

Planning winter parties

Winter is coming and its time to think about planning all those parties. I really like the idea of having an outdoor party even in the cold weather. It's quite easy to arrange for some outdoor heating such as Outdoor Fireplaces, and make it part of the theme and have a party that is a bit different from all others. Another option is using outdoor patio heaters. Although I have not used the chiminea, I have heard some good things about it. It looks like it would create a nice and cozy atmosphere which I try to infuse in my parties usually.

Timex in talks with Reliance Retail

Timex India is conducting talks with Reliance Retail to acquire shelf space or have a shop-in-shop fir its own brands. Timex has been ramping up operations and has invested Rs. 8 crore in relocating its manufacturing facility in Himachal Pradesh to take advantage of the tax breaks the state government is offering. According to Kapil Kappr, MD of Timex India,
"We are rolling out a slew of initiatives, which will improve our market share. We are exploring options to bring in more brands to plug the gaps in our portfolio and are in talks with our strategic partner for this."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Branded interaction

Ever wonder how much all those car crashes in the movies would actually cost? Well, Progressive Direct, a division of a US auto insurer has come up with a way to estimate the costs. Progressive Direct tied up with Universal Studios Home Entertainment to make a program that inserts a running total of the damage being done in its HD DVD release of "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift". So as cars crash into each other the description of the damage and the estimated cost will be displayed in a small window.

This is the first of a stream of branded interactive features that Universal will be releasing in its new HD DVDs. Product placement has become the norm and this is an interesting and interactive take on the concept that viewers will probably enjoy. Progressive Direct has created a new website,, where it has contests to promote the movie and the DVD. Marketing manager at Progressive Direct Fred Khoury, emphasized that this was for fun as it gave the company an opportunity to reach people in a new and different way. It's a totally different way of advertising and reaching newer customers. While on car repair and insurance, here's a good place to compare car insurance rates and get all your questions answered, regarding insurance, quotes and buying insurance online.

Reliance Retail suffers its first major HR casualty

The Economic Times and Business Standard report that Reliance Retail lost its first high profile executive, with Rajeev Karwal, president and CEO of the consumer durables division. Incidentally, he was also the first to join the Reliance Retail venture. Reliance Retail has named Ajay Baijal, former group head at Reliance Infocomm, an Anil Ambani owned company, as his replacement. Rajeev Karwal was earlier CEO of Electrolux and before that with LG Electronics, where he was widely credited as being responsible for the company’s gaining a foothold in the Indian market.

Fresh vegetables at same price all year round

The Economic Times reports that the Future Group is working on creating a ‘consistent pricing’ system to sell its fresh fruits and vegetables all year round at Food Bazaar stores. With this system, the consumer would not be affected by the volatility of seasonal variations that even for basic items like onions can vary from Rs. 5-30 in the open market.

Kishore Biyani, MD of The Future Group, said,
“We are trying to see how uniform pricing in individual centres will work for different categories. Currently, we will roll out with five categories, onions, potatoes, fresh vegetables, rice and sugar.”
The system has been tested at the Andheri branch of Food Bazaar and has registered 50% higher sales.

Increasing traffic

Increasing the popularity of a site sounds like an easy task but is an extremely complex task that is governed by Google's search algorithm. There are several factors that determine where you site stands in relation to the millions of other sites. While Page Rank is a factor in determining importance, Google is reducing its importance due to easy manipulation of it by tech savvy users. More important to Google now are inbound links from a variety of sources.

Increasingly now, Google is relying on other factors such as the Title Tag and the text content of the page and the links that it gets. So, receiving quality links is an important factor in increasing link popularity. One of the best methods to do increase link popularity is by using press releases but also one of the most difficult as publishers need to have interesting information to write about, so the content of the press release must be very good. Other methods such as purchasing links, link baiting, reciprocal linking might work in the short run but cannot be counted on sending quality or long term links.

Creating interesting content that cannot be found elsewhere is the best method to increase link popularity and blogs are a natural extension of this method. It is where search engines find valuable content and provide a great resource. Since doing this in person is almost impossible, one needs to use a network such as Blogitive which has a network of over 2000 blogs who write on press releases.

Starting a new business?

According to reports, an increasing number of people are preferring to work on their own and are starting their own businesses. While some know exactly how to start a business, not everyone has it all planned out. Growthink's Business Plan Help Center is a good resource of information and tools to get an entrepreneur started out on creating a successful business. The center provides a lot of free help such as reports, professional business plans, calculators, sample plans, directories etc. Have a look for your self to see their Business Plan Guide which has been downloaded more than 50,000 per year.

Birlas ready a Rs. 15,000 crore retail rollout

The Financial Express reports that the Aditya Birla Group has planned its retail rollout at an estimated cost of Rs. 15,000 crore, making it the second largest investment in the retail industry after Reliance Retail’s investment of Rs. 25,000 crore earlier this year. The Birlas plan to start operation by mid 2007, opening 6,000 stores in three years eventually and will be focusing on the food and grocery segment for half of its revenue. Lifestyle segments will account for approximately 22% and the balance will be from all other segments.

The Birla Group plans to set up retail stores in a similar manner to how Reliance is doing, by not entering into any tie-up with a foreign partner, following a carpet-bombing approach to opening stores in a variety of formats such as neighborhood convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets and also on its focus on food and grocery.

Fashion Council to form partnership with clothing association

Business Standard reports that the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India (CMAI) have both signed an agreement of co-operation, which will focus on highlighting fashion as a central part of the clothing and fashion industry. In this regard, FDCI will open an office in Mumbai. On the agreement, director general of FDCI, Rathi Vinay Jha said that, " With this agreement the two organisations want to strength the manufacturing and technical services to benefit the fashion industry."

Having the right number

How many marketing calls do you get every day? And how many of them do you call back when they leave a message for you? Any at all? I usually find it hard to tell any one marketer apart from another, they all talk fast and leave a blurry of numbers on the message, that does not make me ever want to listen to it again, forget using their services. To get around this problem, Primary Wave is offering businesses a way to make themselves noticed, by getting a unique and memorable phone number that stands out from the rest. The range of businesses this can be used for is quite varied, including lawyers, mortgage brokers, realtors, doctors etc, and Primary Wave Media is the leading provider of vanity toll free numbers. Primary Wave Media on how Primary Wave Media works and how it can help you grow your business.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vacations for a lifetime

Love vacationing but can't afford the expensive air tickets and hotel stays? Well, then you are going to love this. Fairfield Resorts has a huge selection of timeshare properties that you can holiday at without the huge bills. What actually started out as a land development company, has grown to become one of the most trusted brands in the US. Early properties included Fairfield Bay, Fairfield Sapphire Valley and Fairfield Glade, which the company sold as subdivided lots, wholly ownered condos and custom built homes.

Their first timeshare project was FairShare, a deeded ownership property where you could take an annual vacation at a specific location at a specified time of the year. Owners could exchange locations and weeks with each other but the system was still not entirely flexible. In 1991, the company introduced Fairshare Plus, where timeshare owners could adjust for vacation length, locations and size of the unit, allowing for greater flexibility and greater use of the vacations. After RCI and Interval International, FairShare Plus is the third largest timeshare exchange program in the world. Due to the flexibility of the system, owners can use both points and stays to avail of a variety of travel and leisure products such as airfare, cruises, accomodations and other activities.

Fairfield Resorts has more than half a million families enjoying the lifestyle created by them and vacationing in more than 70 premier resorts in 21 states. The company is based in Orlando, FL and has 9,000 employees who are committed to providing customers with the best vacation experience. Its parent company Wyndham Worldwide is one of the largest hodpitality companies in the world, with over 20 well known travel and leisure brands and over 100 locations across the world.

VF Arvind opens its third Kipling store

The Hindu Business Line reports that VF Arvind launched its third Kipling store in India, at the Gallaria Leela at Leela Palace in Bangalore. Kipling, a Belgium based company that specializes in women’s casual handbags is part of the VF Group. Its other two stores are in Delhi and Mumbai, and plans to open six exclusive stores and twelve shop-in-shops by mid 2007.

Woodland plans expansion

The Financial Express reports that Indian footwear company Woodland will be expanding its production capacity and opening 60-70 new stores in the next two years. According to Harkirat Singh, Managing Director of Woodland Shoes,
"Demand for our products has grown in the past few years. We would invest about Rs 10 crore to set up three new facilities in Uttaranchal to cater to the increased demand."
The company has a capacity to produce 6,000 shoes per day at present and by 2007 end will be able to increase it to 10,000-12,000 shoes per day. Woodland will be opening 60-70 new stores in metros and tier I cities. The company is also looking to increase its apparel and accessories brands, doubling production capacities from 3,000 pieces to 6,000 pieces per day.

Personalized wedding favors

Isn't everything about weddings just so much fun? I seem to be writing a lot on weddings lately, maybe because I will soon be going to Toronto later this month to attend one. Getting everything together for the wedding can be really tough if you don't know where to go and what you need. For some great ideas on what to get, The Knot Wedding Shop has lots of wedding related stuff available. They have more than 1000 items from wedding cameras to ring pillows, attendant gifts, cake toppers, personalized wedding favors and all your basic wedding supplies too. Knowing how crazy it can get, The Knot Wedding Shop has a great delivery service for last minute orders. So rest easy and check out this one stop shop for all your wedding needs.

Who wil be India's Wal-Mart and Kmart?

Financial Express reports that India’s retail sector is soon to have another mega launch announcement, with The Aditya Birla Group who plans to establish more than 6,000 stores in the next three years. The company plans to invest more than Rs. 15,000 crore, second to only Reliance’s investment of Rs. 25,000 crore to set up 11,000 stores by 2011. These two companies are trying to set up retail chains at levels that global retailers such as Wal-Mart or Kmart established in 3-5 decades.

While Reliance and the Birla’s are working their way from cities and urban areas, Wal-Mart got started in the rural areas in the south, and Kmart and Target got started in larger cities. Wal-Mart established itself as a national chain over a period of 30 years and became the number one retail chain in the world and Kmart became a national chain in 8 years, becoming the 29th largest retail chain in 2005.

Window surfing

Strategymag writes about a new window display technique. Boombox Marketing's OptiAd Media division has brought out 'Window F/X', a new way to light display windows with something like a hologram that are invisible from the inside of the window, but can be seen from the outside, even in bright sunny conditions. Even more interestingly, the technology can be adapted to other uses, such as showing a virtual tour of a home for real estate agents or sales centers, even when they are closed. A touchscreen capability will allow potential customers to 'surf' and see products, regardless if the store is open or closed.
OptiAd, which can develop and update the creative, recently set up Window F/X at a Mini sales centre on Toronto's trendy King Street West and at uptown Toronto kids store Nestings. Also, Toronto-based Labatt Breweries of Canada has commissioned several on-premise Window F/X installations.

Dellios says the new technology is customizable "up to windows as big as 50 ft. by 10 ft.," and is compatible with flash animation, DVD and live-feed video. There's no bulky hardware, and the screens don't block sunlight or the visibility of storefront products. For companies with more storefront space than they need to showcase their own wares, OptiAd will broker deals with other advertisers to turn unused windows into ad revenue.

Online education

To get a good education, one doesn't always have to stick to conventional forms of study. Education is not restricted only to physical classrooms; it is wherever one gains knowledge. One such example is Capella University, which is an accredited online university, offering a variety of degree programs for study. At the graduate level, there are degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services and psychology. At the undergraduate level, Capella University offers degree programs in business and information technology. In total, there are 76 graduate and undergraduate level programs and 16 certificate specializations on offer.

Capella University has 16,000 students from the US and 63 countries. It has come to be known as the leader in providing excellent online education and maintaining the balance between academic excellence and business growth. The university is a subsidiary of the Capella Education Company, which is base in Minneapolis. Visit their site at or call them at 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552) for more information. Capella University is accredited with The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Indus Fila likely to acquire international brand

Business Standard reports that Bangalore based textile manufacturer and exporter, Indus Fila is in the process of purchasing an international brand. It has started a due-diligence process in this regard. Once it goes through, the company will enter the domestic market. According to Nitin Mandhana, vice chairman and managing director of Indus Fila,
“We have realised that acquisition of an established fashion apparel brand is the best way to enter the domestic market.”
Indus Fila has been suppling garments to brands such as mexx, Armani, Levis, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Philip Van Heusen, Haggar and Wal-Mart. The company had a turnover of Rs. 85 crore in the last financial year.

Future Group and IOC sign agreement

Business Standard reports that the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Future Group’s Food Bazaar have signed an agreement to set up petrol pumps at the retailer’s shopping center’s and setting up Food Bazaar’s at IOC run petrol outlets. With this agreement, The Future Group will have access to new and untapped markets in semi-urban and highway locations.

IOC will set up their petrol pumps at select Future Group malls, hypermarkets and supermarkets. The larger Food Bazaar outlets will run by the Future Group itself, smaller outlets will be run by IOC dealers, who would source the merchandise from Food Bazaar.

Getting rid of that slice

I've been playing golf for almost 10 years now, sometimes very regularly and at others a bit sporadically. It usually depends on how well one is playing, how strong the pull is of the course to get that swing right, to try out a different grip or to make sure one swings through all the way. I was quite intrigued to see this product on the internet that says will reduce slicing the ball. The Ebalon Offset Anti Slice Golf Club seems like a good idea, but one that I would absolutely have to try out first before buying. Price-wise, the offset driver varies from $199.99 to $499.99 to irons and woods, which is pretty regular what one would pay for a specialized club.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

French salon Jean Claude Biguine to open next year

The Economic Times reports that French salon Jean Claude Biguine, a Euro 150 million hair and beauty chain will be opening early next year to set up salons first in Mumbai and then in Delhi. The company hopes to have 50 salons in the top cities by 2010, using an investment of Rs. 100 crore.

India’s personal care industry is estimated to be worth $38 million is likely to grow to $150 million by 2010. India is seen as an extremely lucrative market with its rising incomes and increasing number of people working in MNCs and BPOs who are ready and willing to spend money on themselves. Other target groups will be women belonging to households of more than Rs. 500,000, which at present number around 50,000 from 2.5 million households and is expected to grow to 1 million by 2010.

A new way to organize

Here's another new service that is sure to improve communication. BrainCast Beta takes care of all your internet and phone related message or memo recording. The system is compatible with any US based cell phone service as well as regular landline telephone service. All you have to do is register and you can be ready to record your messages and memos within seconds. I think its a cool new way to interact, although I would prefer that BrainCast would have some more information about their service and how it works before requires potential customers to sign up. There is no charge to this system, so go ahead and see if it will help you sort out your life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Real estate in Scottsdale AZ

Are you interested in buying a property in one of the hottest places in the US? Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the most upcoming cities in the US, with a very well developed property market. The city that is now famous for its expensive living was once called the 'most western city' in America. Today, Scottsdale has a great cultural atmosphere along with incredible shopping and sporting activities. The Holm Group is one of the foremost real estate agencies in the city and Andrew Holm is an experienced Scottsdale Realtor and Accredited Buyers Representative, who can understand your requirements and make them a reality. The Holm Group is simply the best place to go to for Scottsdale Property or for property in areas such as Phoenix, Carefree and Fountain Hills.

Free access to NYT's Times Select

Philips is offering a one week free access to The New York Time's online opinion section Times Select. The free access runs from Monday 6th November to Sunday 12th November. I'm really happy to be able to read one of my favorite journalists and author's Thomas Friedman. Scroll down to the box on the right side of the The New York Times page.

Are retailers sending customers back empty handed?

Are retailers sending you back home empty handed telling you to check for your item online? Yes, according to come Wharton faculty and industry analysts, retailers have reduced the amount of stock they have in stores, cutting back on certain colors and sizes. Consumers are also being told about the special sales retailers are having online, where they can order low-selling merchandise and have it delivered directly to their homes.
Retailers have always feared operational problems leading to stockouts (items and/or sizes that are out of stock) and lost sales. Now, stores are generating intentional stockouts because they have the opportunity to capture lost sales through the Internet. "Slow-moving items can be efficiently sold using the web site, but not the stores. So when the customer comes into the store and wants an item that is a slow-seller, he or she can get redirected," says Gérard Cachon, Wharton professor of operations and information management.
Read the article here at Knowledge @ Wharton.

Online formulary advice

Epocrates, a San Mateo, CA based company that was ranked 176 in the 25th Annual Inc 500 listing of fastest growing private companies in the US, has been known for its contributions to the field of healthcare and medicine. The company has brought out a great new way for doctors and healthcare professional to get information on drugs and formulations. The company has announced that clinicians and support staff can access Epocrates Online, its free online version of its drug and formulations guide that is already used by over 500,000 healthcare professional in the US.

Epocrates Online has information on over 3,300 drugs such as Ambien, with details such as dosing, pricing, potential hazards and interactions and if Medicare Part D covers the drugs. All this information can be gathered just from having a connection to the Internet, instead of using multiple reference books. Doctors can even access it from their PDAs. The company has designed the system to give specific and clinically useful information, so physicians can focus solely on patients.

For clinicians who need more detailed information, the Epocrates Online premium product is the answer. This version has additional content on alternative medication, pictures of pills, medical tables and calculations and even patient handouts.

US cites RIL entry to make case for foreign retail chains

The Economic Times reports that the entry of Reliance Industries Ltd in the retail sector has led to the US pushing for the entry of foreign retail chains into the market. This discussion reportedly came up at the meeting of Indian and US officials at the CEOs Forum. India has been against the entry of foreign retail players saying that local vendors would be hit by such large scale operations, but US officials are countering this issue, that Reliance and Bharti Enterprises will affect local businesses just the same as Wal-Mart would.

A Commerce Ministry official said that, “It is true that there is no way we can regulate the Indian companies which have turned retailers but given the political opposition we are not in a position to allow the foreign chains to enter the Indian market.” While the government is open to allowing foreign retailers to set up shop in India, the Left and BJP are opposing the move on the grounds that it will cause widespread job loss in certain communities.

S Kumars board to approve US textile firm acquisition

Business Standard reports that S Kumars’ board will meet on November 9, 2006 to approve the company’s acquisition of US textile firm Christy. S Kumars has reportedly evaluated the company at Rs. 450 crore. If approved, the acquisition will give S Kumars access to retail outlets in the US where it can retail its own brands. Christy is a San Francisco based company that supplies home, bed and bath products to brands such as Liz Claiborne, Nautica and Dockers, and retails under its own brand as well.

Audio/Video gift ideas

I’ve got more ideas for your Christmas shopping; this time for technology folks, who will just not be able to resist these great gift ideas. ZTMax has brought out two new products that are not available in the general market as yet. The company was founded in 2005 by Ron Sharon of Zetta Global to specifically import high-tech items that might not be available in retail stores in the US.

The first of the two items is a Multifunctional Digital Mini Speaker, that comes with a built in mp3 decoder so can play all your mp3 files, and has a plug-in SD/MMC card with a USB port so it can read any portable device. The mini speaker is sleek to look at and can last up to 10 hours on 1500mAH lithium batteries. It is priced at $49.95, which is a pretty great price for all its functions.

The second item is the iMage Driverless Webcam from Pico Instruments, which can connect with any Mac or PC application and needs no drivers to be installed to use it. The webcam promises high quality audio and video, including for iChat AV, Yahoo!, Messenter and Skype. The webcam is priced at $54.99, again a great price for all its functions.

Whole Foods to launch mineral based cosmetics line

MediaPost reports that organic food chain, Whole Foods will be selling cosmetics from this week. The company lowered sales outlook for the year. although net income had quadrupled for the quarter, sales growth was lower than originally expected. The company is however, upbeat on bringing in bringing in specialty products such as cosmetics.
Its first, a mineral-based cosmetics line, bows later this week in the higher-margin Whole Body section. Whole Foods isn't just testing the waters with foundation, as many beauty companies have done recently. It is launching a complete color line, with 102 SKUs.

The brand, called Mineral Fusion, will consist of concealers, loose and pressed powders, eye shadows, cheek colors, lipstick, and face bronzers. No mere supermarket brand, it will also be priced at a premium, retailing for $15 to $37.

Mineral Fusion was co-created with Glominerals manufacturer Caleel & Hayden, and is now slated for exclusive sale at Whole Foods until March. Because it does not bear the Whole Foods name, Mineral Fusion may also be distributed to other retailers, including the Sephora cosmetics chain, according to Women's Wear Daily.

Retail rentals in India still lower than global standards

The Economic Times reports that Khan Market in New Delhi is the most expensive retail location in the country. Cushman & Wakefield’s study 'Main Streets accross the World 2006' on retail rates on high street locations has brought some interesting findings. According to Sanjay Dutt, of Cushman & Wakefield, as branded companies are looking for quality space that has high conversion rates from footfalls, rates in high street locations such as Khan Market and South Extension in Delhi and Linking Road in Mumbai are increasing.

Khan Market is placed at 24 on the global list and is the top location in India, compared to Mumbai’s Linking Road which stood at 41 last year. New York’s Fifth Avenue was in the top position, followed by Causeway Bay in Hong Kong and Avenue des Champs Elysees of Paris in the third position.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Great Eastern Appliances in Kolkata plans national level launch

Kolkata based Great Eastern Appliances chain of discount stores announced that it was planning to launch its ‘Technocity’ brand across India. The company plans to have open format stores so customers can try products before purchasing them using the ‘experiential marketing’ retail model. The company is targeting the aspirational segment and its stores will be spread over 20,000 sq ft offering home and kitchen appliances, music systems, gaming and IT products in brands such as Samsung, Electrolux, Kleche, Dennon, Sanyo, Sony, Pioneer, Yamaha, Hitachi and Sharp.
Source: The Economic Times

Uzazi Fashions brings out new range of maternity wear

Business Standard reports that Pune based fashion company Uzazi Fashions Pvt. Ltd has launched a range of maternity wear. Minal Joshi, managing director of Uzazi Fashions said that the maternity brand was the result of detailed research and study over two years to understand consumers’ needs and selecting the right fabrics and patterns. The company hopes to provide consumers with “stylish, modern and affordable maternity wear” according to Minal Joshi.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Candle wedding favors

If you are planning a wedding and are going crazy with the number of things that you need to attend to, plan, organize, delegate etc, then you're going to love this site. There are lots of ideas of wedding favors made of candles, some really great ones too, like the book of love candle set, which spells the word 'love' in 4 miniature candles. I thought candle wedding favors made a lovely and usable gift, something that people could remember your special time and create one for them too. I personally am not in favor of anything too cute, because it never stays that way and after a while, ends up looking cheesy. In my book, elegance is the way to go, and anything associated with a wedding should be as classy as possible.

Wal-Mart stepping up efforts to start operations in India

Daily News & Analysis reports that US retail giant is reportedly stepping up efforts to gain entry to the Indian retail market. Raj Jain president (emerging markets, excluding China and Japan) is currently in India to hire senior managers for its India operations. The company is also looking for a legal head and operations head for its India operations.

Arvind Singhal of Technopak said that although Wal-Mart is keen to enter the market soon, the process would take at least 15 months since its business policy was not clear. Wal-Mart is reportedly looking for an Indian partner to set up its business here, and its wholesale model of operations, Sam’s Club is one of the likely access routes to enter the market.

Reliance Retail aims to link farm to fork

The Economic Times reports that as the first Reliance Fresh opened in Hyderabad, the company is keen to use its resources to create a profitable link from farm to fork. Raghu Pillai, President and CEO (operations and strategy), emphasized that the company will be opening stores in the 70 top cities in several formats, including hypermarkets, music and entertainment, pharmacy, specialty stores and lifestyle products.

Reliance hopes to utilize its investment in its supply chain and will be starting Ranger Farms, a wholesale format store to cater to fresh fruits and vegetables to small vendors and stores. Ranger Farms will open earlier in the mornings and will have different prices than the Reliance Fresh stores. Reliance is also utilizing its supply chain to source fruits and vegetables from specific crop belts in the country. For example, the apples come from Himachal Pradesh, onions come from Karnataka and green leaves come from close by districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Reliance Fresh not to be a threat to small vendors

The Economic Times reports that the opening of 11 Reliance Fresh stores in Hyderabad marked the formal entry of Reliance in the retail industry. Officials assured small traders that Reliance Fresh stores would not be a threat to them. Raghu Pillai, President and CEO (operations and strategy) said that kirana store owners and small vendors can benefit by purchasing their stocks from the company’s wholesale stores, Ranger Farms at lower prices. He added that Reliance was:
"…not harming small retail players... the market is growing by 8 per cent which is 24-25 billion dollars (nearly Rs. 1125 billion) every year... we are aiming at revenues of only 25 billion dollars in four years... even if the market grows by 100 billion dollars by 2015, organized retail would be still less than 10-12 per cent of retail trade.”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Wedding stuff

Weddings are getting more complicated these days. I feel that the simplicity of the wedding and meaning to the two participants is getting lost in the clutter of everything else that is taking precedence these days. Indian weddings are known for their over-the-top ostentatious functions, clothes, jewelry, music, food and pretty much everything else. This happens in part due to weddings being more of a connection between families rather than just the two individuals involved. Also, since almost all weddings in India are paid for by the parents of the bride and groom, they get to invite all their friends, acquaintances and business associates too. The wedding industry here is huge and becoming larger with each passing year and all wedding stuff related products and services do fantastically well, be it clothes, food, gifts, musicians, invitation printers, florists etc.

Raj Jain to be Wal-Mart President and CEO designate for India

The Economic Times reports that Wal-Mart has appointed Raj Jain as its President and CEO designate for its India operations. Wal-Mart already has an office in Delhi from where it is deciding its entry strategy. Raj Jain is the former regional director of marketing and product delivery for Whirlpool Asia and was selected earlier this year to be the president for the company’s emerging markets in Asia, excluding China and Japan. Raj Jain is currently in Shanghai undergoing training and when contacted by ET, only said that he was the president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s emerging markets, refusing to comment on any position related to the company’s India operations.


The Ford Mustang has never been considered just a car. It always demanded and succeeded at being much more. My friend in college Sarah had two in a row. A green 1969 Mustang in college and a new black convertible Mustang as her graduation present right after. In it we did a lot of driving in Kansas City, where we both lived and worked at the time. I am always amazed at the number of fans this car has, the number of sites devoted to it, like where you can find a ton of information about the car.

Mothercare expansion may exceed targets

The Economic Times writes on how UK based Mothercare brand was founded in the 1960s and has come to be known as trusted and reputable. The company is now in 36 countries and is keen to push further into the Indian retail market with its tie up with Shoppers’ Stop. In the UK, growth has been barely 1.5-2%, while in international markets the company is growing at a rate of 28%.

In an interview with The Economic Times, Ben Gordon, Global CEO of Mothercare, said that the main drivers for the company are the Middle East, Russia and Greece. India and Indonesia feature as probable growth markets after the current ones. Products in Indian Mothercare stores were priced lower than in the UK but now they are priced at a similar value.

The company currently has 8 stores in the past five months that it has been in India and although it had origianally planned 40 stores in five years; Mothercare is keen on opening up to 100 stores. At present, there are 4 Mothercare stores in Mumbai and one store each in Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.

On communicating

Growing up in boarding school; writing letters and sending greeting cards for birthdays, anniversaries and other major occasions became an important way to be connected. In prep school, it was compulsory to write at least one letter home each week, and the habit remained for a long time even after it wasn't required, especially during college years in the US, before internet had become the norm. Having an address label gave the letter added authority and weight and even though I moved apartments in college quite a bit (four in four years of college) I loved to get new and unique address labels made after each move. Now with the great graphic design and printer technology available, it is even possible to make free address labels by yourself. I think, its time for me to invest in some new address labels too.

Reliance opens its first retail store

Reuters reports that Reliance Retail’s first store, a food and grocery format store called Reliance Fresh open its doors today and now that the company’s first store is off the ground, Reliance will be rapidly expanding. The company will be investing $5.6 billion to establish a chain of hypermarkets, supermarkets, discount stores, department stores, convenience and specialty stores across the country.

Raghu Pillai, President (operations) of Reliance Retail, said that there will be lots of action in the second quarter of next year, when stores will open in several formats across the country. He added that the company was likely to post a turnover of $22 billion by the end of the 2010/2011 financial year. Reliance plans to be in 784 cities and towns in India by the year 2010/2011.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Drawing the line

People usually think that working from home is a breeze, that its barely work at all, they don't realize that to be effective and successful at working from home, you have to work harder at organize your life to separate these two spheres. Even though I work from home, I keep regular work hours; have a set schedule that includes getting ready and finishing of all my housework like I would before starting work. I do take advantage of the fact that I can be flexible with my schedule and go for a movie or the bookstore during the day and catch up on work later but I never really do it more than once a week. What I love most about working from home is the freedom in knowing that I can work at my own schedule, even though I might not utilize it on a daily basis. It's probably the Gemini in me that hates being tied down to any one routine.

On the same topic, I read a great article on how to balance work and family life on a personal development blog called KSuccess. The post titled Mastering Work/Life Balance & Having more fun is a good read and offers tips on how to separate the two. I especially liked and connected with the part on learning to not strive for perfection, since I too have a habit of looking over all the minor details over and over again not realizing the time spent is worth more than the improvements made on the work.

Illycaffe to target high end market for its Espresso blends

Business Standard reports that Illycaffe is keen on tapping the high end market for its Espresso coffee blends. The company has seen already great success in its business in five-star hotels in India. Andreal Illy, Chairman and CEO of illycaffe, said that the company will be targeting premium homes for their own brand of Express coffee that is likely to enter the market in 2007. The company had tied up with Fresh & Honest Café Ltd. for the five-star segment and is now wanting to extend that to other locations such as cafés, restaurants and corporate offices.

Building your brand

I absolutely love to buy office products. Ever since I've been working from home, I've had an extra excuse to stock up on all sorts of gizmos and stuff for my home office. It's getting pretty addictive actually. My favorite type is anything that helps me organize my work and plan my day better, which if you think about it could fit pretty much all office supplies. So you see my problem, now?

In any business, you have to do something that makes it stand apart from others who are doing similar things. Working as a freelancer, requires that you make an extra effort to stand out in the crowd. When it comes to personalizing one's business, my vote goes to designer personal checks. These checks are a great way to advertise your business and get noticed. If you'd rather have a simpler look, then there are a host of places where one can buy cheap checks if that is what you prefer instead.

I personally think that one's entire 'look' needs to be cohesive. To build your brand, you need to tie in your logo, byline, colors, business card, letter head and personal check to send a united message. It is crucial that people associate everything about you and your business to your brand. So any kind of personalization should also fit this overall brand that you build.

Café Ritazza to open at airports

Business Standard reports that food retailer RKHS, formerly known as Radha Krishna Hospitality Services, has tied up with Select Service Partner (SSP) to set up travel concessions and eateries at airports and railway stations in India. Under the agreement, RKHS will be launching Café Ritazza, which is owned by SSP, at airports in India. At present these cafés are located at 120 airports in 23 countries.

Sunil Nayak, CEO of RKHS said that while this was the company’s first venture into the retail of travel concessions, in the next 2-3 years this division would be contributing up to 8% of the total turnover of the company, reaching Rs. 1,000 crore by 2010. Jude D’Cruz, vice-president (strategy and new business) for RKHS added, “Privatization of airports and a rapid growth in air traffic in the country will increase the demand for food offerings of international standard and service at airports.”

The company already has 2 functional outlets in Mumbai, one at the international airport’s departure terminal and the second at Lilavati Hospital, more outlets are expected to open in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Sunil Nayak emphasized that concepts would be Indianized to suit the local palette.

NIFT launches its own rural based fashion label

Business Standard reports that the National Institute of Fashion Technology has tied up with the Ministry of Rural Development’s Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yogna (SGSY) to launch a fashion label, “i.m.”. Asha Baxi, senior professor and dean of academics at NIFT, said,
“The attempt is to get our budding fashion designers to understand and involve Indian craft and fabric, generate a perpetual employment mode for traditional craftspeople and, finally, of course, establish a sales point that will market the end-product.”
NIFT will retail i.m. products at the Rajiv Gandhi Hasta Kala Bhawan in New Delhi. In this regard, 10,000 craftspeople have been already been identified in 5 states of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala and West Bengal, which will be handled by NIFT students in Delhi, Bangalore, Gandhinagar, Chennai and Kolkata.

Students will take artisans on educational trips to places such as Fab India, anokhi, Dilli Haat, where they can see the various interpretations of their craft. This venture will see an investment of Rs. 3 crore, on training, sourcing material, skill upgradaton, marketing and product development and is likely to change the lives of the over 2,000 craftspeople.

Source: Business Standard

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A great pair of binoculars

At our orchard in the Himalayas, the one thing that I have found really handy to have is our binoculars. With spectacular views all around, including that of the Churdhaar peak which at a height of 14,000 ft and is snow covered 5 months of the year, it's really important to have a good pair of powerful binoculars at hand. When we trekked to Churdhaar about 5 years back, it was really incredible to look down in great detail on all the surrounding areas, including the capital of Himachal Pradesh, Simla, which is quite far away.

Over the years, we've had lots of guests coming to stay with us and everyone has found the binoculars a really great way to sit outside and take in the beauty of the area. Bird watching is usually overlooked in the area, but there is a great variety of birds in the area, even some rare Himalayan ones. Having a good pair of binoculars is really crucial to the sport of bird watching and has a huge variety of binoculars of all types, for all purposes and all prices available in their online store. Premier brands such as Nikon, Steiner, Bushnell, Leupold, Swarovski, Leica, Celestron and Oberwerk are available at great prices at the site. There are also some very helpful sections on how to buy binoculars, understanding how they work and much more.

Sabeer Bhatia's Nano City to come up near Chandigarh

This is really great news. I had heard talks were on regarding this but I'm glad its finally come through. It's really great to see my hometown Chandigarh growing and prospering. I was there for barely a day last month, but could see the change, in the traffic, in the business like manner of the people and in the hundred's of retail companies that are setting up shops there. Once known as a sleepy backwater town full of retired people from the forces, Chandigarh is now full of young and vibrant people, industries and attitude.

The Economic Times reports that Sabeer Bhatia, creater of Hotmail, signed an agreement with the Harayana government to jointly set up Nano City, a knowledge hub built like Silicon Valley in the US. The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 18.5 billion. Sabeer Bhatia's Nano Works Developers will set up the project along with Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development (HSIIDC). The Nano City campus will be spread over 11,000 acres in Panchkula, approximately 45 kms from Chandigarh.
Bhatia said he wanted to set up Nano City on the lines of the Silicon Valley in the US — where he worked in the 1990s and founded the first free e-mail service — Hotmail. He said India had provided people for the world’s software industry and it was now time for the country to develop products and technologies for the world market itself.

The knowledge city will deal in future technologies like nano-technology, biosciences, software product development, next generation Internet products, materials research and energy.
Here are some links on Chandigarh:
The Official Website of the Chandigarh Administration
Wikipedia on Chandigarh
Official website of CITGO
Chandigarh IT Park

Aer Rianta and Flemingo tie up for duty-free retailing

The Economic Times reports that Ireland’s duty free major Aer Rianta, a subsidiary of Dublin Airport, is entering the Indian market in a tie up with Flemingo India to bid for setting up duty-free retail outlets at the Delhi and Mumbai airports. Flemingo is the only major duty-free company operating at Indian airports besides the government owned ITDC, whose lease for space at Delhi airport expires this December.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reliance Fresh to open on November 03, 2006

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.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

Illycafe plans to promote gourmet coffees in India

The Hindu Business Line reports that due to the rising consumption of coffee in India, illycafe S.p.A. is planning to promote gourmet coffee culture and open an outlet of its ‘University of Coffee’ in Bangalore. Illycafe is the producer and marketer of a single blend Arabica and operates the Universita del Caffe in Italy at Trieste. Andrea illy, chairman and CEO of illycafe, said that the University of Coffee will be functional in January 2007 and will be training Indian coffee growers and baristas, organize food and beverage courses, train managers etc.

Online loans

Peer-to-peer social networks have been creating lots of business opportunities. Zopa, or Zone of Possible Agreement, is one of the premier peer-to-peer lending sites. At Zopa, lenders can decide at what rate they want to give a loan, at what risk level and for what time period. Once they put money into the account, borrowers can take loans on these pre-determined terms and lenders have full access to see who has taken the loan, how much is owed and if any is still available for other borrowers. With Zopa, consumers can easily take online loans and don't require a bank at all. The system is operation in the UK and will soon start in the US.

Blue Clothing Company to retail luxury brands

The Economic Times reports that due to increasing demand for luxury brands is leading to brands such as Versace to relocate from multi brand outlets (MBOs) in five-star hotels to exclusive boutiques to reach more customers. Blue Clothing Company authorized licensee of several luxury brands is now retailing Versace, Corneliani, Cadini and Sisley though exclusive stand alone stores. Abhay Gupta, Executive Director of BCC, said that
"These exclusive brands need an exclusive treatment, and MBOs cannot give the consumer a complete shopping experience when it comes to luxury labels."

Trinethra plans Rs. 100 crore investment

The Economic Times reports that Trinethra Super Retail (TRSL) announced that it will be focusing more on the supermarket format and plans to grow to 220 outlets by March 2007. At present Trinethra has 150 stores in southern states, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The new stores will also be located in the same region.

The company launched its new retail format, called the Trinethra Quick Shop. These Quick Shops will focus on stocking the main 3,000 SKUs that make up 70-80% of store sales. TRSL is a Rs. 240 crore company that operates stores under the name Trinethra in Andhra Pradesh and Chennai and under the name Fabmall in Bangalore.