Purvita Chatterjee

Mumbai, Aug. 30

DIVERSIFYING its retailing initiatives , the Rs 650-crore Pantaloon Retail (India) is planning to start its own parlours at its Big Bazaar outlets.

The company is targeting the middle class with its prices and offerings and its imminent foray into the services sector is at present being explored as a new concept.

Mr Kishore Biyani, Managing Director, Pantaloon Retail (India), told Business Line, "We are looking at the beauty business in a different way and are working on a concept, which is yet to be frozen. There will be salons and parlours, which will be expected to provide hair cutting services for both men and women."

The new services will be priced at a `discount' compared to the existing market rates, in line with the Big Bazaar's concept of a discount store. The offerings will also include special packages aimed at segments of the beauty market such as wedding makeovers. Besides, there are also plans to launch events around its salons to attract customers. The company is currently in the process of hiring personnel with experience in the beauty business to run its salons and parlours.

Pantaloon is also looking at creating individual in-store brands within its existing stores for its various product segments. For instance, it has decided it spin off its watches and sun-glasses under a separate store section branded as Blue Sky. Another in-store section is likely to get created for kids' products under the brand `Playground.' In-store section brands within its stores are also planned for product categories such as cosmetics, fragrances and sportswear.

Explaining the need for creating these brands, Mr Jaydeep Shetty, Chief of New Business, Pantaloon Retail, claims, "All this time, Pantaloon has always been perceived as an apparel-centric store. Now, we want to create separate identities for the other mix of products existing at its stores. In fact, there are plans to introduce both shop-in-shop brands and also individual stores for most of these categories." In view of space constraints, Pantaloon intends to spin off these in-store brands as independent stores later as the business expands. Adds Mr Shetty, "We need a minimum of 400 sq. ft. to create a visual identity for each of these brands to make it appealing to consumers."

In the case of the Blue Sky brand, Pantaloon is already stocking international watch labels such as Esprit and Fossil. But it hopes to get exclusive licences to sell brands such as Morgan, Sioruci and Montana in the future. "We chose the Blue Sky brand name due to its association with the aviation industry. After all, watches, sunglasses and aviation share the same features such as precision and quality."

Meanwhile, Pantaloon is also busy expanding its in-house clothing brands and even spinning them off as stand-alone stores. In the recent past, it has introduced a lifestyle retail format store aLL for plus-sized women under the PRIL (Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd) brand of stores.

In the case of the aLL brand, Pantaloon has decided to launch stand-alone stores before moving the brand into the existing stores. "Since the characteristics of the aLL large-sized consumer is different from the usual Pantaloon customer, the idea was to build it as a separate brand meant for those who went in to buy such clothes in a planned way. It is a still a niche market," said Mr Hemang Savla, Senior Consultant- New Business Development, Pantaloon Retail. Pantaloon plans to launch 6-8 aLL stores across the country and add 15 shop-in-shop counters at its own stores and at its existing retail formats such as Central and Fashion Station.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 31, 2005)
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