Close to signing deal for 1,50,000-sq ft space in a mall in Erandwana locality

Sudha Menon

Pune, Aug. 7

Reliance Industries Ltd has Pune on its radar for the first phase of its plans to roll out its much-discussed foray into retail with the company now close to signing a deal for 1,50,000 sq ft of space in a mall in the downtown Erandwana locality of the city.

To kick off Hypermarket

Sources told

Business Line

that RIL would kick off its hypermarket format at Down Town, a mall-cum-office property being developed by Suma Shilp Ltd. The company is also believed to be looking at acquiring office space in the same complex for its other operations.

"RIL is in advanced stages of negotiations with the developer and is close to signing a deal in the next few days. They are open to both the lease option and outright purchase,'' according to informed sources. Suma Shilp and RIL officials, when contacted, declined to comment on the development but a senior Reliance official, on conditions of anonymity, confirmed that negotiations are at an advanced stage for the deal.

Strategic location

The Erandwana location for the hypermarket could prove to be a strategic move for the company's retail foray. This locality is home to a large chunk of the city's middle and upper middle class population and at present does not have large format retail outlets. The area is also close to Kothrud, which was at one point one of the fastest growing suburbs in the country.

"Pune has been where lots of companies have piloted their products and projects and it is not surprising that Reliance is firming up plans to launch the first of its hypermarkets here," a retail analyst said. . Property and real estate experts maintain that current lease rates in Erandwana is between Rs 100-125 /sq ft for retail while that for office space between Rs 45-60 / sq ft. Rates for outright purchase in the area are estimated at Rs 8,000-10,000/sq ft.

Retail venture in 3 brands

Reliance Industries is believed to be rolling out its retail venture in three brands, small format `Feel Fresh' outlets selling fruits and vegetables, `Feel Fresh Plus', which will also sell apparel and consumer electronics.

The hypermarket format will span 1-1.5 lakh sq ft and will go the whole hog to stock merchandise on the lines of those found in global brands, sources said.

Sources said the company's retail venture is all set to kick off by November this year.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 8, 2006)
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