To be followed by bigger versions in Mumbai, New Delhi and Ahmedabad

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Nov. 3

Reliance Industries on Friday made its `big splash' into the emerging retail sector in the country, launching a clutch of 11 pilot `Reliance Fresh' outlets in Hyderabadwith much fanfare and international media attention.

Beginning with vegetables and fruits, these `Fresh' outlets, are starters, in the Rs 25,000-crore agri and retail business venture of the company, which will have its presence across 784 cities and 6,000 towns in the country.

Neighbourhood store

The roll-out of `Reliance Fresh', termed as the neighbourhood store here, would be followed by bigger versions in Mumbai, New Delhi and Ahmedabad. RIL has been firming up plans for other formats a chain of hypermarkets, supermarkets and department stores.

RIL aims to quickly have one retail outlet for every 3,000 families across the country, which is one store within a radius of every 2 km, company executives said.

The RIL Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Mukesh Ambani, told mediapersons attheBanjara Hills store through an audio-visual film that "It is a small step in our initiative that will create a virtuous circle of prosperity by bringing the farmers and consumers in a win-win partnership."

Mr Raghu Pillai, President and CE, Operations and Strategy, toldmediapersons that "we want to leapfrog the way Indian customers shop. We are test-checking the market here and based on the response, we hope to fine-tune our marketing strategy before we start more stores across the country."

Employment

Claiming to revolutionise organised retail, the company hopes to directly employ half-a-million people and indirectly a million more through its retail outlets. "Our venture will not affect the common

kirana

shops or the farmers or push cart vendors," Mr Pillai said.

Asked if the company was contemplating an IPO to raise funds, he preferred not to comment. "We are also not into a land buying spree either," he said.

The model chosen by the company for these retail outlets is going to be a mix of company-owned and franchisees. Mr K. S. Venugopal, Head, AP Operations, and CE, Customer Solutions, told

Business Line

: "Of the 11 outlets (2,000 sq.ft. to 4,000 sq.ft) opened today, most of them are franchisees. We want to promote entrepreneurs all over the country." He added that by the year-end, the company plans to have outlets in five other cities in AP Vijayawada, Guntur, Warangal, Tirupati and Vizag.

Currently, the store stocks `high-frequency shopped items' such as fresh vegetables and fruits, bread, egg, dairy products and `select' grocery items. Soon a non-vegetarian section will be added. Free home delivery, sale of flowers and cookies will follow.

Mr Gunender Kapur, CE, Foods Business, said, "We want to increase the per capita food consumption and also enter FMCG, pharmaceuticals and lifestyle products soon."

Strategy

Terming it as `farm to fork' strategy, Mr Sanjeev Asthana, President and CE, Agri-Business, said: "We are partnering with the farmers and bringing fresh farm products directly to the consumers, thereby, ensuring affordable prices to customers and fair and transparent prices to the farmers. Our USP is `fresh' and we want to bring quality, affordability and variety to all people."

Talking about sourcing of these products, Mr Pillai said, "We plan to have a global supply chain. At present, we are sourcing our products from all over the country. For example, in these 11 stores, the apples are from Himachal Pradesh and Shimla, onion and potatoes from Karnataka and Maharashtra and, of course, the greens from in and around Hyderabad."

Related Stories:
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Reliance kicks off `Fresh' retail in Hyderabad
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Retailers not enthused by Reliance's mega plans

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 4, 2006)
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