Biyani bets on retail story in small-town India

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on June 16, 2014 Published on June 16, 2014

Kishore Biyani

Despite huge debts, Future group buying distressed malls

Kishore Biyani, known as India’s retail king and founder of diversified retail company Future Group, is said to be revisiting his mall plans this year. Kishore and his brother, Sunil Biyani, are understood to have bought several distressed malls in small towns such as Ujjain, Nanded and Indore, besides engaging in discussions for another mall in suburban Mumbai.

Sources privy to the discussions told Business Line that Kishore Biyani has bought distressed property in Ujjain, MP, for ₹195 crore, which will be leased out to retailers, food court operators and anchor stores.

Outstanding debt

Biyani has also bought a non-performing shopping centre in Nanded, Maharashtra, for ₹175 crore and the Treasure Island Mall in Indore for ₹350 crore.

The deals are said to have been carried out through Future Group’s real estate arm Future Market Network, which operates malls for wholesale traders called World Market, and a mall development company called Star Centres. An e-mail sent to Biyani on his mall plans elicited no response. Future Group has outstanding debt of a little less than ₹6,000 crore.

Sources said the agenda was to buy these distressed properties cheap and develop them into malls, as the retail story in smaller towns is set to see achche din (better days) with the new government’s focus on infrastructure development in Tier II and III towns.

The Government has drawn up an ambitious infrastructure development programme for the next 10 years with modernisation and revamping of rail, road and air connectivity to smaller towns.

Susil Dungarwal, founder of mall management firm Beyond Squarefeet, says the market value of these properties was ₹300-₹500 crore a year ago, but post-slowdown had eroded by 50 per cent.

Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy firm Technopak Advisory, said that after three years of economic slowdown and the overall slump, there appeared to be a revival in the retail segment.

Land prices

“In smaller towns, the malls are not very good, and there is enough scope for a developer. I think that planning malls in smaller towns is a good idea as land prices in urban markets are skyrocketing. For him (Biyani), it is perfect timing,” he said.

Singhal added that with big-label retailers such as Croma, Lifestyle, Pantaloon and Big Bazaar, and premium international retailers like Mango, United Colors of Benetton and Vero Moda, among others, expanding into non-metro regions, the opportunity was huge.

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Published on June 16, 2014
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