Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Planning for valentines

Valentine's Day is around the corner, so it's about time to decide on sending gifts to loved ones. I found that Dot Flowers offers some really nice gourmet gift baskets, flower arrangements and chocolate's that can be sent on great deals. Flowers can be sent either from their growers farms or from your local florist. I like the fact that they really have a wide variety of products available that can be combined to make a gift really personal and special. Have a look at some of these great ideas for valentines Day gifts. Dot Flowers is known for its customer service, so you don't have to worry about your order at all.

Local retail: HyperCITY Vs Spencer's

Just back from some shopping at HyperCITY in Malad. It is the only hypermarket that is comparable to such stores in the US. They have really got everything correct in the store, from the mix of products, the layout of the store, the prices, the signage (the best of all the retail stores in India), the ease of flow from one department to the next and the wide aisles. We like going there to do all bulk items required for the house every couple of months. The checkout counters are plentiful (there are 24 of them), so you never have to wait more than 5 minutes (when I go which is always in off peak times) and the staff is courteous, helpful and knowledgeable. The fact that parking is free when you spend more than Rs 100 is an added bonus, which Spencer's at Inorbit Mall doesn't do.

HyperCITY wins over Spencer's on pretty much every front. Spencer's is nowhere as well laid out as HyperCITY, nor is it as well stocked. Like most times, I found each and everything on my list at HyperCITY, down to the right brand, right flavor, right size and usually an even better price that I had thought of. At Spencer's, I can usually only find 70% of items on my list and the most irritating part is that they keep changing things around, so you have to wander the aisles, which do not have any signs, find a customer service person who might or might not be able to tell you where to go.

The only thing that I did not like about HyperCITY is that they are not able to keep the smell down in the meat section, so even though I want to buy some stuff there, I just cannot stand the assorted smells of raw fish, meat and chicken assailing my nose.

Reliance Fresh aims for 4 million sq ft of retail space

Reliance Retail's food and grocery format store Reliance Fresh is aiming to reach 4 million sq ft of space by the end of this year. The company had recently acquired the Adani Retail Group which as 54 stores in the state of Gujarat which will soon be rebranded by the company into Reliance Fresh stores.
Over the past 5 to 6 months, Reliance Retail has been aggressive on the acquisition front. Having snapped up the Adani stores, it is also in talks to acquire the Delhi-based co-operative chain Super Bazar and Mumbai-based co-op chain Maratha Stores. Unconfirmed reports say it is also eyeing the south India-based Subhiksha retail chain.

Personlizing a wedding

Planning a wedding is not an easy task, considering just how many things need to be taken care of for the big day. So, where do you go for all your wedding supply needs all in one place? The Knot Wedding Shop has some of the best and most innovative items for weddings, including necessities such as wedding camera and ring pillows to personalized wedding favors, attendant gifts and cake toppers. I find the idea of personalizing items with the bride and groom's names along with the date as a really special way to memorialize the day. The Knot Wedding Shop is a really great place for all your wedding needs, it is also the largest retailer for wedding related supplies on the Internet, stocking over 1,000 interesting and hard to find items.

Kewal Kiran Clothing to open large format stores for its brands

The Kewal Kiran Clothing (KKC) company will be setting up large format stores by the end of 2008. The company is known for manufacturing brands such as Killer, Lawman, Easies and th Integriti brands of garments. Initially, four stores will be opened, of which one store will be located in Kandivili in Mumbai. The company will be investing Rs 5-6 crore in each store. Stores will be approximately 20,000 sq ft in size and will retail both its existing labels as well as new brands that are yet to be launched.

Tata wins bid for Corus

The Eocnomic Times reports that the Tata Group won the bidding for Corus for GBP 6.2 billion (plus adjusted debt of GBP 500 million) to become the fifth largest steel company in the world. The auction was held in London, where Tata's beat the competition from CSN from Brazil to make the winning bid at 608 pence a share in the ninth round of the bidding.
Speaking to ET right after the auction, Anwar Hasan, managing director of Tata Ltd in UK, said that the bidding was tense and at many times hectic, but finally the mood in Camp Tata is "naturally, very happy," at the outcome. The auction, slated to go on for 10 hours, actually lasted about 8 and half to nine hours.

SMEs are more credit worthy than you think

According to a study by Crisil, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for the major part of commercial activity in the country, although they have traditionally been seen as not very credit-worthy than large corporations. The Economic Times reports that the study was conducted comparing data from 2,500 large corporates and around 32,000 SMEs in the manufacturing sector.
SMEs compare well with their larger cousins on several debt protection parameters, and are more bankable credits than they are generally perceived to be. Although SMEs do not fare quite as well on the profitability front, possibly on account of the competitive pressures they face, this is offset by much better debt-equity levels.

Additionally, SMEs differ widely from one another in performance and credit quality. Therefore, the performance and credit quality of an individual SME cannot be judged on the basis of conclusions drawn from evaluating the performance and credit quality of SMEs in general. Here entity-specific ratings help lenders better evaluate the credit quality.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Is it over for The Gap?

Some time back I had written about Gap losing its edge, becoming boring and predictable. I wonder if it will be able to gain some of its fans back. I've been shopping at Gap since I was in college and although my tastes have changes since then, unfortunately Gap has essentially remained the same. I mean, just how many classic khakhi's do they want us to own? Sales at The Gap have been dismal, even during the holiday season. I visited several stores in the summer and then again in November and December in the NY area and Toronto, but there was nothing that really made me stop and want to try on.

Reliance Retail opens stores in NCR

Reliance Retail opened 9 stores on Monday, 29th January, 2007 in the National Capital Region (NCR). The Economic Times reports that the company now has a total of 50 Reliance Fresh stores in the nation. While, it opened 9 stores in Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and Gurgaon, the company has not opened any store in Delhi itself. Sources report that it has delayed opening stores in Delhi due to several regulatory problems that it has faced, along with problems in getting the right locations for its stores. The company plans to open 100 stores in the NCR by April, of which 50 will be in Delhi and the remaining in the surrounding areas.

"There are issues concerning the Delhi Master Plan. The senior executives are also negotiating with the MCD for allotment of land," an RIL source told ET. "We are waiting for the Master Plan tofinalizedised as we only want clean land for our stores," said Reliance Retail CEO (operations & strategy) Raghu Pillai.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Blade Servers from ClearCube

Have you seen ClearCube's blade PC systems? Using the ClearCube technology and a Blade Server, a user has full functionality of a PC without taking up all that space in your already cramped office. In any Intel based computer that is able to deliver full functionality from a single centralized location, this really is the way to go. Using the latest PC components such as Intel Core 2 Duo, Xeon and Pentium 4 processors, the PC blade systems are sure to change the way you work.

Organizing your lists electronically

One of my favorite sources of information on all things technological, Techzoogle reports that a new device called SmartShopper that allows shoppers to recognize names of grocery items by voice, record them electronically and print out a receipt on thermal paper has been awarded the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show's Design and Engineering Award. It was also named as one of the top ten new products at the show. The SmartShopper, designed by Richard Brundisi and Gregory Vittardi, has an LCD screen that categorizes purchases according to categories such as frozen foods, toiletries etc. A total of 2500 grocery items can be saved on the SmartShopper, which can also save errand lists that can be printed out with your grocery list.

Singapore's Singtel interested in Vodafone's 10% stake in Bharti

Some news on the Vodafone-Hutchinson Essar-Bharti Airtel deal. Singapore's largest telecom group, Singtel is reportedly interested in picking up Vodafone's 10% state in Bharti Airtel. If Vodafone wins the $18 billion auction of Hutchinson Essar, it will be offloading its stake in Bharti Airtel.
At present, SingTel owns 30.5% stake in Bharti Airtel. “The initial talks have started. SingTel is keen on it,” a source close to the deal said. The news comes at a time when Vodafone’s chief executive Arun Sarin revealed that he would be making a formal offer for the Hutchison Essar early next month.

Social networking goes mobile

Social networking is now catching on in mobile media too. E-Commerce Times reports a trend that consumers are taking to revolves around accessing social networking sites via cell phones. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook have become the rage with consumers who are now taking the trend to accessing information from these sites on their mobile phones, creating a entirely new opportunity. While some social networking sites on mobile phones are extensions of their online versions, others are specifically for mobile devices. So consumers can now, search for friends, join chat rooms via text messaging. Cell phones with high quality camera's can also upload photos and videos.

The concept of mobile social networking isn't entirely new. Hookt, for example, has its origins in a mobile service launched five years ago by AirG of Canada. It's grown into an international community of 10 million users who access it through 85 different cell companies under assorted brands.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Being serious about payday loans

Organizing one's finances is not always an easy task and there are tons of confusing issues to be dealt with, but thanks to the easy access to payday loans, consumers are able to handle financial crises with greater ease than ever before. While a lot of people downgrade these loans, if you take them seriously and pay them back on time, they will not affect your credit history adversely. One has to be responsible about taking and paying back any loan, and a payday loan is no different. In fact, one must be more careful about any loan that you can get on a short notice and respond to it in a serious manner. Using the internet has also made it so much simpler to get these loans and find out abour rates and penalties.

Making szechwan chicken at home

Have you always wanted to make Chinese food at home, but never manage to get it right? I've been using Sun Bird Seasonings since I was in college to make easy and delicious Chinese food at home and I brought some packets back home with me when I was in the US this summer, along with cans of water chestnuts and bamboo shoots which are not always easily available here. So, tonight we had Hot and Spicy Szechwan Chicken, along with some hakka noodles which we ordered in from Mainland China. As a college student, one tries out lots of easy stuff to cook, but this one was one of my favorite tricks. It turns out so good that unless you know that the seasoning comes from a packet, you would never guess it from eating it. Now, I'm wondering why I didn't bring more packets back with me? Hmmm, think I must start planning my next trip....

Retailing at first hand

One of the 'organized' retail stores near where we live is called Godrej's Nature's Basket. It opened last year here in Lokhandwala and I was eagerly anticipating doing all my shopping there. Unfortunately, it turned out to stock not the entire requirements of what one needs for a monthly grocery. They keep fruits and veggies, as their name suggests, and an odd assortment of imported products such as Kellogg cereals, Prego pasta sauce, Bertolli olive oil etc. They seem to want to focus on offering all organic products but the range is just not complete.

Their fruits and vegetables, especially the veggies, have really been improving lately, to the point that I might now do my weekly veggie shopping there, if my regular veggie chap didn't show or some other reason. What I like is that they now stock items that your (and mine too) veggie vendor will not usually have, like celery, asparagus, chives, basil, mushrooms etc.

What really bugs me about the place is their customer service, which is quite bad. Apart from the fruits and veggie section, there are no customer service people in the store at all, besides those at the cash counters. So, if you can't find something, good luck to you! Once you reach the cash counters, you'll see 95% of the time that their computers are down, so they are making manual bills.

Then, they have a habit of not returning change, which I find extremely irritating. My bill today came to Rs 218.49 and they automatically round it off to Rs 219, which is just plain wrong. Retailers just don't seem to realize how much importance customers now place on getting good customer service. It's not ok just to be 'ok', to be a successfull retailer now, you have to be excellent at least one of the key factors, such as price, variety of products, home delivery, customer service, special offers, etc. I wonder when they will understand.

Could Carrefour be tying up with Anil's ADAG?

Things are really going to get interesting on the retail front. After the Bharti-Wal-Mart tie up, there is talk in the industry that Carrefour is likely to form an agreement with Anil Ambani's Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) to start retail operations in India. The French retailer has been wanting to enter India's retail market and has unsuccessfully held talks with Bharti (which later tied up with Wal-Mart), the Wadias of Bombay Dyeing, Dubai based Landmark Group and the Godrej's as well.

If this deal goes through, then Anil Ambani will be in direct competition with estranged elder brother Mukesh Ambani, who has a head start with his Reliance Retail concept. The company now has 40 food and grocery stores open in three cities: Hyderabad, Jaipur and Chennai. Its B2B format Ranger Farms which functions from 2am to 9am only for wholesalers and other store keepers is also operational.

Testing Cite Bite

I write a lot about retail, new business ideas, technology, trends, and communication, so am constantly reading lots and lots of newspapers, magazines, newsletters on a variety of subjects. Since I am quoting from a source, I like to link directly to the article I am referring to, so as to establish credibility and authenticity. Today I saw another version of linking to an article, a site called Cite Bite, where you can cite specific portions, instead of linking to the entire article, and the link will take you directly to the source with the quoted text highlighted. For example, if I was writing an article on The Gap (one of my old posts), using Cite Bite, it would look like this.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Creating a digital lifestyle at home

Are our lives being overtaken by technology? E-Commerce Times reports that consumers are adding on products and services to their TVs and PCs, creating a digital lifestyle for themselves. Service providers are popping up out of nowhere to offer add on services to compete with each other. Set top boxes, time/place shifters such as TiVo and Slingbox are gaining as consumers want to focus on having all possible options available. A variety of technology, electronic and computer companies are trying to be a part of the growth in the new home market.
"Service providers -- particularly in broadband access and television delivery -- view the deployment of Web-connected home applications as service differentiators and a means to promote customer loyalty," Kurt Scherf, principal analyst and VP at Parks Associates , told the E-Commerce Times.

Are malls returning in fashion?

After being considered a wasted option, the tried and tested format of a mall, might be coming back in with consumers. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis and St. Paul reports that developers in Minneapolis are considering building regional malls in the metro area suburbs such as Rogers, Maple Grove and Chanhassen. Could this be the comeback of the traditional mall? Although nothing is officially decided as yet, developers and city officials are upbeat on new malls coming up in the next five years. If approved, this would be the first new mall to come up in three decades in the area.
Over time, mall developers would want to build projects in the same fast-growing suburbs that have attracted strip centers with big-box chains like Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. Another critical factor was the resurgence of department stores, which opened up the possibility that -- once again -- mall developers could find anchor tenants to make their projects feasible.

Even so, some retail experts questioned whether the Twin Cities can support more malls, especially with the Mall of America preparing to double its size. New malls would simply draw business from regional and downtown centers that are struggling to retain tenants, retail consultants said.

Hockey forum

After my post on football boards, I found that there is a board for hockey too. The HF Boards are one of the largest and most popular NHL Forum and hockey boards on the Internet and have been online for 5 years. Part of Hockey's Future, the #1 Online Prospects magazine, HF Message Boards and Forum are a great way to keep up to date on all games, news, events, players and other hockey related information to the NHL, minor leagues, hockey games and players of other countries, fantasy hockey and college hockey. It is also the best place to connect with other hockey fans to discuss game strategies, winning formulas, trades etc.

Can The Gap save itself?

The Gap was the hottest place to buy clothes when we were in college. With it's basic and non-trendy clothes, it was the way to look cool without trying to hard. Unfortunately, the company that sold only classic clothes, forgot that at some point of time, its customers were going to already own everything Gap had and would look for a change. Gap has neither been able to grow with its customers nor find itself newer and younger customers. The company has seen sales declining since 2004 and an 8% drop this past holiday season.

When I was in the US and Canada, last summer and then again in November, I visited a couple of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores. The three used to be my favorite stores, as they were of most college kids. What I now saw at Gap were boring clothes, in too few colors and in too few styles. They simply had no fresh ideas. Old Navy's clothes seem to be getting flimsier by the minute but at Banana Republic, the clothes were nice. But then in fashion, nice is blase. It was definitely more fun shopping at H&M, the Swedish retailer who is taking America by storm.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ever been on an all-inclusive vacation?

Taking a vacation is more than just booking a flight and a hotel. A 'real' vacation is one that lets you escape from your daily routine, one that takes care of all your needs so that you can fully enjoy each and every moment of being away. is an all inclusive vacation travel company, where you can select a resort based on the type of vacation you are looking for, such as family friendly, couples only etc. The company has recently launched a new website with a customized booking engine that has intuitive functions such as offering discounted rates, save with free nights offers and savings of close to 50% as compared to regular rates. What I really liked about the new site were the details about the resorts, especially the description of amenities, recreational activities, ratings by visitors and the compelling photographs. features some of the best resorts in popular beach destinations such as Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica. Have a look as their website or call them at 1-888-205-3315 for more information.

New Business Idea: Restaurant booking service

Do you never manage to get reservations to the hottest restaurants in town? Well, if you are then, you're going to love this. writes about a company called PrimeTime Tables, a New York based restaurant booking service that can find you a table in some of the hottest restaurants in New York, Miami, Colorado and the The Hamptons, even at the last minute. PrimeTime Tables was started by Pascal Riffaud, formerly a concierge at famous hotels such as the St. Regis in New York and the Ritz in Paris, who also runs Personal Concierge International, a full service concierge service.

Premium membership costs USD 450 per year, plus reservation fees (free for reservations acquired the same day before noon), while non-members pay between USD 35-45 per booking, depending on how far in advance they book (48 hours - same day). Considering economics is grounded in scarcity and top, prime-time tables in any metropolis are very scarce indeed, it's a business idea that could take flight in other cities, too.

Football message boards

When I joined college in the States, I realized that football is almost as powerful as religion to the average American. Our college team, the KSU Wildcats had a very enthusiastic and vocal following and after college, when I worked in Kansas City and it was impossible not to get caught up in the enthusiasm over our team the Kansas City Chiefs. On game days, it was as if a sea of red had covered the city. I loved the way the games brought people together. After moving back to India, I had a tough time keeping up to date with the teams games, scores, events etc for both the KSU Wildcats and KC Chiefs. I recently found a really great source of information on all NFL teams but also a forum where you could interact with other fans. started a mere six months back but is a really great football message board where I can finally catch up with information on the KSU Wildcats and Kansas City Chiefs.

Retailers head to IIM to recruit talent

Retailers are targeting IIMs to recruit qualified talent that has been rather scarce in the retail industry. The Financial Express reports that companies such as Reliance Retail, Bharti-Wal-Mart, Essar, RPG and Tesco are all lining up to recruit the business school's graduates in campus placements in March. Most retailers are looking to recruit a large number of graduates, which is likely to increase salaries by 40-50%, since finance and IT companies are also interested in recruiting candidates from these institutes. Tesco has confirmed its participation at IIM Calcutta, IIM Bangalore and ISB Hyderabad.
Companies from different sectors, including those from pharma, retail and real estate are also approaching the IIMs and ISB, Hyderabad for participating in the final placement process, which would start in March.

"Though Finance and IT are performing well on the dalal street, still they will have to face competition from the newcomers," IIM Ahmedabad placement committee member Pravin G said.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Are press releases more powerful than advertisments?

Paul McCord writes about the power of press releases in Marketing Profs: Daily Fix blog. As he rightly states that newspapers are full of names of thousands of companies who have issued press releases as they want to let consumers know about a new product, event, earnings report, promotion etc which are reported in the newspapers as "hard news".

The consumer generated advertising revolution also works on a similar premise. Initially, advertisers refered to them as advertisements, but after a lot of outrage from consumers who want to know if what they are reading is sponsored or not, companies are now using press releases that they issue to writers and bloggers, who get paid to write about the company.
Most midsize-to-large companies have long learned the value of the press release, but the vast majority of small companies haven't. The notion seems to be that, to make it into the newspaper, companies must have some momentous news to break.

But, by forfeiting the newspaper coverage to the "big boys," small companies are missing out on possibly the most dynamic form of promotion and lead generation there is—and it's free. And, after all, if it's in the newspaper, it must be important, right?

Working capital loans for SMEs

I read recently that small businesses are the fastest growing type of business enterprise, especially in the international arena. Small businesses have several advantages over larger firms, such as making faster decisions and moving quickly but there are also disadvantages such as lack of financial backing. As companies are expanding more rapidly and expanding over larger areas, it makes more sense to take a short term working capital loan to fund expansion plans rather than bank financing or taking in partners, where you lose full control of your firm. ARF is a company based in California that can help small and medium sized businesses such as restaurants, beauty salons and accounting agents keep control of their business while still meeting business goals. ARF's Restaurant Loans are competitive and secure, with a simple application process and flexible financing options. Simply put, ARF can solve all your problems quickly, quietly and efficiently. An important factor to remember regarding working capital loans is that the interest is tax deductible, the net effective rate is lower than for funds.

How much would you pay for a college textbook?

The college textbook market will have to wake up and face reality pretty soon. E-Commerce Times writes that the market functioned almost as a monopoly, with university professors having the power to decide which book students would have to buy for their courses. Prices have been increasing, and it has become seemingly impossible to get a textbook for less than $100. Some years back when I was in college, most of my textbooks were in the $65-$95 range, adding up to $350-400 for the semester, which was really outrageous.

To beat traditional publishers, several small sites have come up that provide students with cheaper options for textbooks and other school supplies. One of the largest of these sites is, which has just got $2.2 million as funding according to At, students can buy and sell used textbooks for free. Books on are also cheaper than the campus bookstore.

One Chegg user says her book expenses have dropped to $200 -- from $500 to $600 -- since she began using the site in September. "It's a really great way for students to find textbooks, tutors, or jobs. The prices are cheaper than other sites," says Stacy Lynn Austin, a junior who is studying journalism and creative writing at New York University.

Can you manage time efficiently

The one thing that really defines the workplace now, is efficient time management. Unless a business person can master this one aspect of working, nothing else will be as effective. No amount of marketing plans, incentives and gimmicks can propel an executive or a business to success, unless the concept of time management is followed. One of the best ways to manager your time is to use a time management software such as Achieve Planner that works with Windows to organize meetings and events, increase productivity and use your time in the best possible manner. Brought by Effexis, the Achieve Planner can really change the way you work. It will use priorities set by you to focus on important issues, schedule project blocks and appointments, organize a to-do list and on the whole save time by managing tasks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Are you interested in Internet franchises?

I read an interesting article on internet franchising on on the concept and popularity of franchises on the internet. The listings that come up when the words 'internet franchise' are entered in a search box are endless. If you are on the lookout for a new business opportunity, then you could look into this form of business, but you must also do your own research before handing over your money.
Getting involved in an Internet franchise could be riskier than surfing the Web without a firewall . A safer approach is to investigate short-term, renewable partnership affiliations rather than more costly franchises.

"Partnerships work better on the Internet. I don't see why franchises exist," Thomas Harpointner, CEO of AIS Media, told the E-Commerce Times. "Cookie-cutter franchises don't cut it anymore."

Finding property in Sofia

Have you always wanted to live in Europe? How about owning a vacation home in one of the most beautiful and underrated countries of Europe, Bulgaria. I find it hard to believe, that such an amazing country is not at the top of the list for the number of tourists, as it is simply beautiful and incredible. Properties in Bulgaria and its capital Sofia are available at really incredible deals, which are sure to rise as more people become aware of the opportunity that awaits them in Bulgaria. A company called Bulgarian Dreams lists Sofia property that is available for superb prices. Compare them to any other European city and you will be amazed at how much you can get for how little.

Nirula's to offer niche segments

Delhi's most famous fast food chain, Nirula's announced that it will be launching new formats to customise itself to target specific segments. The Economic Times reports that new formats will be called Nirula's Express, which will be targeted at the takeaway customer segment, food courts and ice cream kiosks. Nirula's Express stores will be compact and cover 200 sq ft of space, and will be located at airports, railway stations, malls and metro stations. The first of these opened at the Delhi Airport earlier this month. Nirula's food courts will be larger, covering around 400 sq ft of space and would be located in malls, movie multiplexes and other large commercial complexes. The first one of these will open in Gurgaon.

Argos, Raheja deal looks likely

According to reports in today's Economic Times, the UK's leading catalogue retailer, Argos is on the verge of signing an agreement with the K Raheja Corp. If the deal goes through, Argos will open stores in India. Argos is owned by the Home Retail Group and sells general merchandise and home related products from over 670 brands in the UK and Ireland. In the recent past, several retailers in the UK have shown interest in opening stores in India and it looks like Argos might even beat the UK's largest retailer Tesco in coming to India. The K Raheja Corp owns India's best known department store chain, Shoppers' Stop and also its first hypermarket chain, HyperCity.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Vishal Retail to open 15 additional stores

Business Standard reports that Vishal Megamart retail chain will soon be opening 15 new stores in the western areas of the country by March 2007, investing a total of Rs 100-115 crore. Locations will include, suburbs of Mumbai such as Mulund and Dahisar and other locations such as Pune, Solapur, Nagpur, Kohlapur, Surat and Ahmedabad. The company is also looking for two locations in Mumbai itself.

Each store will be spread over 30,000-40,000 sq ft and will sell approximately 7,000 products, including household goods, garments, food, footware, home decor items, toys and games, sports and fitness related merchandise, cosmetics, gifts and other lifestyle items. At present the company has 47 outlets in 36 cities with a total retail space of 11.27 lakh sq ft. Its turnover for the last financial year was Rs 300 crore and it has set its target as Rs 650 crore for the current financial year.

Pearl Fashions looks to acquire overseas brands

Business Standard reports that ready-to-wear apparel brand House of Pearl Fashions is looking to acquire either a retail chain or fashion brand overseas, most likely in the US and UK markets. Company sources said that an investment of Rs 40 crore would be made by the end of the year. Pearl Fashions is specifically looking for a high-end unisex brand for the 15-30 age bracket, something that would compete effectively against Wills Lifestyle or Color Plus. If it does not find the right fit in a apparel brand, then Pearl Fashions would acquire a retail chain in the US or UK, a company that has 50-150 stores, which it plans to run for two years internationally before bringing it to India.

It's own exclusive store, Forever New will be opened by end 2007, in cities such as Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. Locations have yet to be finalized and both high street and mall locations are been studied. Pearl Fashions will stock its DCC and Koolhearts brand in its own stores. DCC is an apparel and accessories brand for women in the 30-45 age group and Koolhearts is for young women from the ages of 15-25.

information on building your career

I think one of the best things about the Internet is the ability to search for pretty much anything. It is what has defined the Internet and fueled its growth. Just look at the amazing number of search site that are online, site that are full of information on a huge variety of topics. is one of the new entrants but has a different angle to searches, which makes it quite unique. Besides information on historical events and places, there is also lots of non-traditional information such as career guidance from the Beyond Career Network where you can learn about how to guide your career to achieve your goals, searching for jobs on a local, national and international level, take personality tests, have access to a huge resource of professionals and read up on career related articles. It's a new direction for an encyclopedia but completely in tune with our times.

Weekend movies

After the weekend, it always seems just so hard to get back to the regular routine on Mondays, doesn't it? And since I work at least half days on Saturdays and Sundays too, the weekend just seems to go by all together too fast for my liking. This weekend we spent a lot of our free time watching movies, those that we had missed out on when they came to the theatres. The Da Vinci Code was a movie I had wanted to see as soon it was out, but got too caught up in work to see it then. For anyone who has read the book by Dan Brown, the movie would be a bit of a let down, but then it's a really tough movie to adapt from a book. All in all, it was quite enjoyable, nothing like the pace of the book, but still good. I especially liked all the visual clues that kept popping up every once in a while, if you were quick enough to catch them. Other movies we watched this weekend were Brokeback Mountain, Khosla Ka Ghosla (which we had seen in the theatre earlier) and an old favorite, Amar Akbar Anthony.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Unorganized manufacturing units could benefit Indian and international corporates

The Economic Times reports that in an unexpected twist, small manufacturing units of the unorganized sector could benefit domestic and international corporate houses looking to be a part of the Indian retail market. According to research by Research & Information Services (RIS), an External Affairs ministry think tank, the trade sector will account for 11 million jobs and employ an additional 16 million in the sector of export manufacturing over the next three years. While these small scale units and workers play an essential role in the supply chain, they are compensated at a very minimal level, due to presence of middlemen and archaic labour laws.

Automotive insurance news

Did you know that insurance companies specifically target younger drivers to provide specific information to them? One of the leading insurance companies, GEICO announced that it has added "Teens and Trucks" to its online library of safe driving materials. The brochure has lots of valuable information on how teens need to learn how to share the road with large trucks and has been developed with the American Moving and Storage Association. GEICO has made this information available in its online library of resources and while the information is targeted at teen drivers, it is of use to all other drivers as well.

Tips such as staying out of a trucks blind spots, passing a truck carefully, not swerving in front of trucks and staying out of the way when a truck needs to make a turn due to its large turning radius are tips that everyone on the road will find helpful. All this information is available for free for driving classes, law enforcement officials and state agencies. Information like this is handy to know and prides itself in providing information on automotive insurance companies, so consumers can get the latest news on insurance companies at one place. Consumers can also shop for insurance online at in some states.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


So, we saw the movie Guru this week, after we heard the rave reviews from just about everywhere and everyone. I must say that the lead actors have done a helluva job in recreating the characters, the time, the events and have definately gotten into the skin of the characters. It is a joy to see such movies, that have solid characters and are about something other than love and marriage. After flimsy movies such as Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, it was a real treat to watch this movie and hope to see more such movies.

Cave Creek Condos

There's no doubt about it that I love to travel, to explore new places and revisit old favorites. There seems to be a new trend in holidaying these days, with the number of non-traditional places gaining in popularity when it comes to holiday resorts and vacation homes. One of the new places that has opened in a place that once was at one time considered completely non-touristy, is the Cave Creek Resorts and Casitas, located in Arizona's Sonora Desert. They have a cool scheme on offer where you can buy a Cave Creek Condos and rent it out when you are not vacationing there, so you can make the most of owning a property with some rental income as well have a place to retreat to. I think it's a great idea that people are really taking to with great enthusiasm.

Creative Group to focus on domestic market

Business Standard reports that the Creative Group announced that it will be launching new lines of clothing for the domestic market. The company also exports garments to the US and Europe. According to Rahul Mehta, partner in Creative Casuals, “This year, the company plans to introduce menswear and ladieswear brands in different segments such as pret, mid- and mas-market segments with respective retail expansions.”

The company is making this move due to several factors, including the "booming economy, emergence of organized retail and changing awareness about fashion" that are leading to the rising demand of branded garments in the country. The company will also be considering opening another venture for a new fashion line, with a leading Bollywood actor as the brand ambassador. In another venture, Creative has tie up with two Ahmedabad based designers, Rahul Mishra and Samar Firdos for their couture brand.

Creative's first brand 109F, an upscale womens wear brand, was launched in November 2006, and the company plans to have 10 more stores initially, then another 35 over the next three years. Most stores will be opened in metros and tier I cities. 109F is also available at department stores such as Pantaloon and Piramyd. Its home furnishings brand is the well known Portico brand.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Argos keen on entering Indian market

The K Raheja Group is one of the leading retailers in India, with it's brands Shoppers' Stop and HyperCity. It's department store brand Shoppers' Stop is the top selling and most popular retail brand among consumers. It is the one brand that has recognition from even those people who are not their shoppers. With their reach and popularity, there were media reports that the company could be tying up with US based coffee chain Starbucks, but ultimately the Seattle based company tied up with the K Raheja Group's main competitor the Pantaloon Group.

Reuters reports that the UK's Home Retail Group is looking to coming to India via its Argos chain of stores. According to Richard Ashton, Finance Director of the Home Retail Group, "India is a possible area we'd consider in the future. We're not active there, but we're keeping an eye on it." There have been reports in the media that the company was tying up with the K. Raheja Corp, which runs one of the leading departmental chain stores Shoppers' Stop as well as the country's leading hypermarket, HyperCity.

Trinethra launches its first hypermarket, HyperCity in Mysore

The Hindu Business Line reports that Trinethra Super Retail Ltd (TSRL) opened its first hypermarket, FabCity in Mysore. The hypermarket is spread over an area of 50,000 sq ft and stocks a huge variety of categories, including food and grocery, apparel, home furnishings, footwear, beauty products and accessories, stationary, toys and games, household appliances and consumer durables. Most products have been souced from India as well as South East Asia and are a mix of branded and private labels.

At the launch of the store, Pranab Barua, CEO of Trinethra Super Retail Ltd, said that,
"Mysore has emerged as a key destination for several large companies,
leading to a change in lifestyle, consumer outlook and buying behaviour.
Recognising this change, and, in order to bridge the need gap arising from it,
we have decided to launch our first hypermarket here."

Trinethra has recently been purchased by the Aditya Birla Group which has led it to have more operational stores than even Reliance Retail, propelling it to the big league in retail in just one quick move. The Trinethra brand is a very well respectred brand, and although it is only focused in South India, with it's acquisition by the Aditya Birla Group, it will be expanding across the country. Reliance Retail also made a similar purchase, by buying Adani Retail which again is regionally specific to the state of Gujarat. Currenlty, Reliance Retail has Fresh stores in Hyderabad and Jaipur.

Creating the perfect home theatre system

Even though going to the theatre is back to being trendy and fun, we love to watch movies at home. Sometimes it's just too much to fight the crowds at the theatre on the weekends; really doesn't make much sense when one does it all week anyways. So investing in a good home theatre system has been our priority right from the beginning. While there are lots of basic models available, we've been hooked on getting a professional system set up for ourselves. TCA, for example, is one such company that provides lots of items such as cables, networking, DVI and HDMI products that enable users to have high quality picture and sound right in their homes. DVI stands for Digital Video Interface that make it possible for digital connectivity requirements for high performance PC's and digital displays. The HDMI switch for example lets you connect multiple HDMI applications to a single monitor. It is products like these that really create the perfect home theatre systems.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Organized retail giving farmers a big rise in income

Business Standard reports that farmers in Punjab are expected to significantly increase their incomes with the arrival of large retailers on the agri scene, who are creating a huge demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. Several comapnies such as ITC, Reliance and Subhiksha have signed agreements with farmers to source products directly from them. According to an official at Subhiksha, “As there are less intermediaries between us and the farmers they get higher returns on their produce.”

Around 70 farmers in Sangrur, Hoshiarpur, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ropar have turned to net-house cultivation to produce high-value and off-season crops that are in high demand with the retailers, with technical help from the Punjab farmers commission and financial help from the State Bank of India. In Nawashahar and Jagraon, Centurian Bank of Punjab has teamed up with Chambal Fertilizers to finance 200 farmers to grow potatoes.

Logistics, the next growth segment

The Hindu Business Line reports that with the rapid growth of the retail sector in India, logistic companies in India are looking for significant investments to increase their services. At present, this is one area that is lacking in infrastructure and chain components. According to Edelweiss, the 6 main companies in this area: Concor, Gateway Distriparks Ltd (GDL), Allcargo, SICAL, Transport Corporation of India and Gati, are likely to spend more than Rs 3.400 crore in the next three years to gear up for the opportunities.

Concor and SICAL are focusing on cold chain logistics, GDL and SICAL are looking towards container trains and TCI and Gati are focusing on warehousing. Edelweiss estimates that the container train segment will receive Rs 1,600 crore in the next three years, while warehousing will get Rs 200 crore, offshore logistics will get Rs 250 crore and trucking will get Rs 380 crore.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

US Internet spending tops $100 billion

Last year Americans spent more than $100 billion on the Internet, a number that is likely to grow even larger in the coming years. Yahoo News reports that in a report by comScore Networks, a research firm, online retail spending accounted for $102.1 billion, a 24% increase over spending in 2005, excluding travel. An estimated $24.6 billion came from the holiday months of November and December alone.

According to Jeffrey Grau, a senior analyst at eMarketer, a research firm, "E-commerce is becoming more mainstream. A larger segment of the population is buying online, and people are buying more things than they have in the past."

Investment firm Cowen and Co. calculated the 2006 sales figure at 108 billion dollars and sees this growing to 225 billion by 2011.

"We estimate that US e-commerce sales will grow 20 percent in 2007, driven by increasing adoption of broadband, lower prices in online channels, and the increased convenience of online shopping," the Cowen report said.

This would mean e-commerce would account for 4.7 percent of total US retail sales in five years, up from 2.7 percent at the end of 2006.

IBM to provide tech support to Kroger's News Enquirer reports that Kroger supermarkets will now have technology help from IBM. The new software called Store Integration Framework will allow Kroger to streamline its logistics and supply chains using better link technology such as hand held scanners, touchscreen lunchmeat kiosks and other technologies. According to Michael Rowinski, IBM spokesman, "It will make it easier to roll out new technologies in the store."

ITC to focus on Maharashtra for Choupal Fresh

The Economic Times reports that ITC will be taking advantage of Maharashtra's 'retail-friendly' policy to expand its Choupal Fresh stores across the state. The company said it was happy with the results of its three month experiment of Choupal Fresh in the Pune market and thus it will be opening stores in other cities. The company is specifically looking at Satara and Solapur districts to bring in more farmers. Reliance had also put forward a similar contract farming proposal with the state government but it has not made any progress with getting any sort of approval as yet.

Pantaloon and Alpha open first duty free store in Delhi's IGI airport this week

Pantaloon and Alpha will be opening their first duty free shop at the arrival terminal of the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi. The store will become fully operational by 18-20 January 2007. Delhi received higher number of international passengers and higher spenders than Mumbai, so the first store was opened in the city. The store will cover an area of 2,000 sq ft which will be expanded to 7,000 sq ft in a month's time. Another store will be opened at the departure terminal by the end of the month. Souce:

Support for enterprise software solutions

Starting a business is tough, but managing that business successfully can be even tougher. As we depend more on technology, we need to understand more complicated factors that affect our business. How much do you know about enterprise software liscensees and the services they provide? Did you know that Rimini Street is the leading provider of independent support and maintenance for Siebel, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards software. With Rimini Street, you can use these softwares without worry thanks to the innovative support system that the company uses, eliminating forced upgrades, saving more than 50% of annual support fees and the best service committment in the industry. Rimini Street's Siebel Support is one of the new alternative approaches in the enterprise software market. Servicing over a hundred of the Fortune 500 and mid market companies, Rimini Street is known to provide unique and specialized service to all its clients.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Landmark plans for Kolkata expansion

The Economic Times reports that Landmark is busy making expansion plans for Kolkata where it will be opening three large stores and several small format stores. According to Himanshy Chakrawarti, Landmark's chief operating officer, "We are looking to launch three stores, each spread over some 25,000 - 30,000 square feet. Total investment for these three stores is estimated to be about Rs 15 crore." Initially the company will be focusing on high visibility locations such as high streets where it will open large format stores.

A good year for retail

There's lots on interesting stuff happening in the retail world these days, with the government announcing that they have no issue with the Bharti and Wal-Mart deal since FDI is already permitted in the cash & carry segment. Tesco is reportedly in talks with the Tatas and Costo is also eyeing the Indian market. Starbucks has tied up with Pantaloon and will be opening a cafe later this year first in Delhi and then Mumbai. Pantaloon will also be forming a JV with Staples for stores in the much needed office supply segment. Here's to a great 2007 for anyone who has anything to do with retail!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Writings on Internet Marketing

As a retail analyst and researcher, I come across lots of new companies and websites that one might not hear about otherwise. Today, I have been reading lots of articles on a site called the Internet Business Blog, a site dedicated to news, events and discussions on internet business and marketing. The subject is one of the most 'in-demand' topics and is great for people who are directly related to the business as well as those who like to know what is happening in the field. I found several interesting articles to read on the Internet Marketing Blog, especially the article on digg being a game that is controlled by a few users who have too much power on the site. I have been using digg too and find that most articles that reach the top of the list are submitted by just a few people.

Railways keen to set up agri-hubs

The Indian Railways is getting in on the retail boom and will soon be forming a partnership with retail majors. The Economic Times reports that the draft of the agreement is expected to be ready in a fortnight. Major retailers such as Reliance, Pantaloon, Tatas, Adanis, Bharti Group etc have been talking with the Railways to set up retail hubs, warehouse facilities, cold storages etc on excess railway land in cities and villages. While the railways are not interested in getting involved in the real estate business, they are keen to tie up with retailers and real estate developers to set up agri-hubs across the country.

Using the right resources

So how does your company take care of its research requirements? What kind of firm do you outsource it to? Are they reliable, do they get all the details that make the difference in being good and great. If you want to see how the best of firms work, then you must have a look at Growthink Research, 'a market research firm that specializes in tracking and analyzing venture capital activity'. The company has details on more than 7,700 US based companies that have been funded by venture capitalists, tracking more than 13,000 funding transactions and more than 70,000 professionals. Growthink Venture Capital Research has the resources to find potential investors for companies, investors who can do due diligence, sales and business development professionals looking for new ventures. There is a demo available on the site where you can see you they work and how they will be able to work for you.

Is Costco next in line to come to India?

More exciting news on the retail front. The world's fifth largest retailer, Costco Wholesale Corp. might be heading to India as it looks to increase its presence in the world's emerging markets. The Economic Times reports that the Washington based company has 504 warehouses where it sells branded products in bulk quantities at discounted rates. It's largest competitor in the US is Wal-Mart's wholesale format store called Sam's Club. India would be an ideal market for the company since there is very little competition, with only Metro Cash & Carry operating in this format.

Sources said Costco may look to partner a local retail powerhouse, with several names, including Kishore Biyani’s Future Group, being touted as possible partner. Mr Biyani denied talks, stating that Future was set to unveil a wholesale retail business on its own.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Plan with Travelfish

Do you love to travel? Have you discovered the amazing beauty and diversity of South East Asian countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand? Well, if you would like to plan a trip here then the place to go to get some information is travelfish.ofg, an online review guide with thousands of listings of places to stay, how to get there, what to visit, where to eat etc. Travelfish is run by avid travellers and has even been compared to Lonely Planet and is one of the most comprehensive sources of information for the region. On our last visit to Thailand, we stuck to the tried and tested routes, but next time, we would like to try something different, maybe take the train to Chang Mai or even travel by the canal for a bit.

Louis Vuitton to run duty-free shops

Finally some good news for the international airports in Mumbai and Delhi. The Economic Times reports that Louis Vuitton (LVMH) has received an approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to run duty-free shops at the international airports in Delhi and Mumbai. The company is expected to invest Rs 40 crore initially for the venture, which will operate through DFS Venture Singapore, one of its subsidiaries. Besides shops at the international airports, the company will also be setting up bonded warehouses for its products. It will be nice to see some progress finally happening at these airports, which seem to have stood still for ages, making no improvements and additions.

Tesco will move 190 jobs to Bangalore

The Economic Times reports that the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco announced that it will be transferring 190 finance processing jobs from its office in Cardiff to Bangalore in the next 12 to 18 months. The move is being done to improve the organization and maximize the excellence of service provided. Those who will be affected by the jobs will get a chance to take up jobs elsewhere in the company or receive compensation if they preferred to leave.
A Tesco spokesman said, "Businesses change and we are constantly looking at
ways of improving the organisation. There are some types of jobs which are
appropriate to be taken to our excellent service centre in India. "There are
also some jobs that customers have told us they would like to see remain in the
UK. We have two excellent call centres in Cardiff and in Dundee."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Outsourcing to India gains favor with global retailers

Well, some are finally realizing the good part of outsourcing. The Economic Times reports that global retailers are finding newer reasons to be pleased with outsourcing IT operations to India. The use of technology is making global retailers see the efficiency of outsourcing certain specified operations to India that can help in increasing sales, improving customer service and cut costs. Take for example, a technology used to judge if crowds are being build up at the cash registers, from the ambient heat of customers, sending a message to the back office, maybe in Bangalore, to open more cash registers.

Global retailers are looking to constantly fine tune operations and reduce costs, tools that IT companies in India can provide. Some items that are already been used are pause machines, ERP, SCM, smart cards, RFID, thermal sectors that will help retailers connect with customers with greater ease.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Go for the gold

Gold is what makes the world go around, is what we've heard a million times and now is a good time to make that come true. Gold is one of the best investments one can make, one that will continuously rise in value over a long period of time. It always has and it always will. When you buy gold, purity is the keyword. Unless it's the real thing and you can check it is, it's of no use. Monex Deposit Company (MDC) is a good place to purchase gold and other precious metals that you can have delivered to you or sent to safekeeping at a bank or depository. Monex has been doing this for over 30 years and is one of the most trusted names in the business.

Gold can be purchased in either ingot or coin form. Buying gold bullion as an investment, or to proclaim your power, was really big in ancient times of the Romans, Greek and Egyptians. The beauty of gold is such that it appeals to a wide audience, especially women who purchase gold ornaments keeping their investment value in mind. Monex Precious Metals has a large and dedicated staff that are excellent asset professionals and are committed to working towards your investment needs.

Italian brand Friuli announces launch

Business Standard reports that Italian furniture brand Friuli in now in the Indian market and has been brought in by Bangalore based Ikian Furnitures. Friuli’s range includes everything for the home, modular kitchens, wardrobes, sofas, chairs, beds, lighting accessories etc. According to Ramesh Kumar Dugar, CEO of Ikian Furnitures, “The growth potential is phenomenal. We are targeting all categories of customers. Bangalore being the centre of IT industry, we look for more business from the city. We have already bagged orders from a few IT firms.” After Bangalore, the Friuli brand will be available in Chennai and Mumbai, expanding to 10 showroms by 2008 in cities such as Ahmedabad, Kochi, Goa and Hyderabad.

Adapting to new ways

Some time back I realised that as I have started working more and more on the computer, I have stopped using the Dictionary and Thesaurus that I have by my desk. As work gets faster and faster, one needs to find shortcuts to even the simplest of things. What I have started using is online dictionaries, which are quicker and give you results faster. The Dictionary of Definitions is an online dictionary that has recently been redesigned and is still in beta mode. I like the way dictionary definitions works: simply, quietly and efficiently. Definitions are to the point and quotations by famous people are given to make the point stronger.

La Opala makes deal with major retailers

The Economic Times reports that Crockery brand La Opala has tied up with major retail brands in a move to increase its turnover and visibility. The company is hoping to double its turnover to Rs 100 crore with this move. According to L Shridhar, President of the company, "We have recently tied up with Reliance, Lifestyle, Pantaloon, Metro, Pyramid and Shoppers Stop for catering to customers of the mall culture."

La Opala is not interested in setting up its own stores and with this tie up with retailers; it can get feedback from customers and their choices. The company hopes to double its production capacity when its new automated plant located in Sitarganj in Uttranchal becomes fully operational in May 2007.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Indian retailers keen on global sourcing

The Economic Times reports that Indian retailers are fast following the ways of the global majors and are keen on setting up global sourcing methods to increase margins while still offering the best prices to customers. Retailers such as Big Bazaar, Shoppers’ Stop, Ebony, Westside and even Subhiksha, are looking to set up a sourcing offices in Hong Kong and China.

According to Kishore Biyani, CEO of the Future Group, “For retail chains across the globe, the world is becoming a single market. We are looking at markets across the world from where one can source merchandise at the lowest price. We have opened our global sourcing offices in Hong Kong and China a few days back.”

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Recruiting engineers

The recruiting business is extremely competitive and tough, especially in certain fields such as Civil Engineering. A firm that is dedicated to Civil Engineer Jobs is CSI, which has unmatched experience in working with high quality civil engineering companies as well as candidates. Take a look at their team, for example, to see just how qualified they are. The President of the company has 20 years of experience in civil engineering, one of the consultants has over 30 years experience, the sales director has over 10 years of experience in the field and the Principal worked for 7 years as an executive manager with a Fortune 500 technology company. All in all, the total combined experience of the staff is 60 years.

CSI can ably handle ambitious goals, making over 25,000 phone calls each month, mining through the most comprehensive database of Civil engineering PE's and EIT's in the industry. The company focuses on new prospects instead of only 'churning' old resumes. Recruting the old fashioned way, CSI has satisfied clients in some of the leading engineering firms in the US.

Luggage brand Witco aims to expand brand

The Economic Times reports that Chennai based luggage brand Witco is hoping to cash in on the travel boom by exiting the economy baggage segment and moving to the premium baggage category. The company is looking to build a national footprint focusing on holiday and business travelers in the domestic segment. In the international segment, the company will be focusing on the student luggage travel segment which is growing at 25% per year. Witco stores are currently located in Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Calicut with 15 showrooms.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

AS Watson to enter Indian retail market

Some news about another likely entrant to the Indian retail scene. I find that there is news like this almost every day now....shows just how much attention the Indian retail sector is attracting. The Economic Times reports that AS Watson, a subsidiary of Hutchinson Whampoa, Li Ka Shing’s flagship company is all set to enter the organized retail sector in India. Sources report that plans are being made to launch Watson’s Your Personal Store, a health and beauty format retail chain in India. The launch has been delayed since FDI regulations do not allow for direct entry of multi brand retailers.

Watson is presently located in 13 countries with approximately 1,400 stores and is part of the $12 billion ASW group which has 7,600 stores located in 34 countries. Other brand of the company are ParknShop supermarket, Taste food galleria, Gourmet boutique style fine food hall, Fortress electrical equipment, Watsons wine cellar and Nuance-Watson airport duty free stores.

Retailers on the looking for more space

Are you sick of seeing signs of new malls coming up in your neighborhood? Malls and shopping centers seem to be sprining up just about everywhere it seems. The Economic Times reports that with the continued expansion of retailers, the operational retail space is likely to reach 100 million sq ft by 2008, with an estimated 500 malls across India. Retailers are however, still hungry for more space and the high cost of real estate is becoming a serious handicap in their plans. Reliance alone is expected to have 30 million sq ft of space by 2010 with its range of hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores in 784 cities and 6,000 rural mandis.

Other big players such as Pantaloon have signed for space in over 100 malls that are still in development stages, Max Retail and Provogue have secured 800,000 sq ft and 1 million sq ft of space. According to Pranay Vakil, chairman of Knight Frank, “There will be a significant gap between supply of retail space and demand over the next two years.”

Friday, January 05, 2007

Kewal Kiran Clothing plans JV with international brand

Business Standard reports that manufactures of the Killer brand of denim, Kewal Kiran Clothing has indicated that talks are on with an international watch brand. According to company executives, the move is to expand its portolio to add watches and fragrances for the Indian market to reduce the dependence on the Killer brand that currently contributes to 50% of the company’s revenues.

The company has 4 menswear brands, Killer, Easies, Lawman and Integriti and will soon be introducing women’s wear under the Killer and Easies brands. At present, there are 41 K-Lounge outlets and will be opening 140 medium and large retail outlets by next year.

Pantaloon and Staples form JV for office supplies reports that US based office supplies giant Stapes has reportedly formed an agreement with Pantaloon Retail to set up operations in India. Staples is the world’s largest office supplies company, worth an estimated $16 billion. Staples will likely hold 35% of the new company and is considering a cash-and-carry format to be used in India. The company will also be investing $6 million in the venture. Staples is already present in China and Taiwan and has 1,800 stores in the US, Canada and 20 other countries.

Oxford Bookstore looks to smaller towns

Business Standard reports that Oxford Bookstore is looking to expand across India and is focusing on tier I and tier II cities and towns over the next 5-10 years. New stores would be franchise models and would have a mix of small stores of less than 400 sq ft and large stores of around 6,000 sq ft.

According to Rajiv Chowdhry, chief executive officer of Apeejay Oxford Bookstore, "We plan to open 6 more Oxford Bookstores in India by March 2007, besides the existing 10." New stores will be opening in Shillong, Guwahati, Mysore and Coimbatore. Another focus area would be its junior section, which accounts for 20% of sales.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nahar to open 100 outlets

DNA India reports that Nahar Industrial has planned an aggressive expansion plan to open 100 stores by the end of this financial year. Kamal Oswal, managing director of Nahar International added that “We have 170 Cotton County stores at present and plan to take the number to 250 by March next year.” The company will be focusing on smaller cities such as Kanpur, Lucknow and Ludhiana for its expansion. In the long term, the company plans to have 1000 stores by 2010 and also add womens and kids wear to its portfolio.

Barista goes for a new look

Rediff Money reports that Barista is undergoing a change of its look to move from café to lounge. The company will also be expanding its premium line, Barista Crème in an effort to compete with Starbucks, who is planning to enter the country. These stores will be larger than the regular Barista Espresso outlets, along with high end furniture and fixtures. The company is hoping to achieve its target of reaching 220 Espresso bars and 10 Crèmes by the end of this financial year.

Aditya Birla Group acquires out Trinethra

Another major event in the retail world of India. The Hindu Business Line reports that The Aditya Birla Group has bought the controlling stake in Trinethra Super Retail Ltd, which has over 100 food and grocery retail stores in south India. Trinethra recorded a turnover of Rs. 170 crore and has 83 stores in Andhra Pradhesh, 26 in Bangalore, where it operates under the Fabmall name, and 15 in Chennai. A few new stores are also coming up in Kerala and other smaller Tier II cities in south India.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Are you headed to Boise?

Boise is one of the new and upcoming cities in the US, that offers a great standard of living, open spaces and high quality of life. In today's world of connectivity, it is no longer necessary to live in big city just to do a job, it is now possible to live anywhere you'd like to, even in the wild woods, just as long as you have good means of communication. Boise is the capital of the state of Idaho and the state's most populated city with just under one million residents in the city and the metro areas combined.

Boise is already the headquarters of several multinational corporations such as the Washington Group International, Micron Technology, Albertsons, the JR Simplot Company and Hewlett Packard's printer division. In recent times, high tech industries are flocking to Boise. Urban Boise has lots of options for recreation in the outdoors, the largest being the urban trail called the Boise River Greenbelt which runs along the river. Downtown Boise is known for its shopping and cultural activities, with the cafes along 8th street giving it a European feel. Living in Boise is said to be a fulfilling experience with the wide range of Boise homes on the market.

Future Group ties up with Videocon

The Economic Times reports that the Future Group has formed an agreement with Videocon to source its private label brands, Koryo and Sensei, which are sold at e-zones and electronic bazaar. With this agreement, Videocon has become a preferred vendor for the company, so its products will be sold at all the consumer electronic formats of the Future Group.

Kishore Biyani, CEO of the Future Group, said, “Already Koryo accounts of 12% of the total sales at our formats and similarly the offtake for Sensei is increasing. Through the agreement, we will be able to source products from Videocon and introduce them under the Koryo and Sensei brand name.”

Infinity Retail forms sourcing pact with Videocon

The Economic Times reports that Tata’s newest retail venture Infinity Retail has signed a sourcing agreement with Videocon to source consumer electronics for its in house label. While Venugopal Dhoot, Videocon Industries, chairman and managing director said that “We have signed an agreement with Tatas to supply them consumer electronics for their private labels, similar to our agreements with Pantaloon and Reliance”, Ajit Joshi Infinity Retail chief executive officer, denied any tie up between the companies.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

fog, fog go away

Traveling in winter to the north is becoming a really long drawn out process with the constant delays due to fog and the holiday season. All our travels in the past ten days have been delayed due to fog. Our train from Delhi left 5 hours late and reached 12 hours late, most of the time it seemed we stopped more than we moved forward, giving passes to all trains, including goods and local passenger trains. Our flight last night was again delayed by over 3 hours and so we reached Bombay at 1am and home by 2am.....leaving us totally exhausted and certainly not ready to face the new work week.

Back in town

Back from vacation. A really memorable and thoroughly enjoyable one. I can't believe the time went by so quickly and look forward to going back to Koilwar on a regular basis. More details on our trip in between catching up with work over the next few days...