Upbeat on the economic prospects of the country over the next 3-5 years, Tata group company Trent Ltd has undertaken aggressive expansion plans for its retail chain Westside, a top company official said today.

The expansion could see doubling the number of Westside stores over the next five years.

“I am optimistic for the mid-term. We will open 30 Westside stores this year of which 10 would be in the east.

Last year, the number was 18. In the next 3-5 years, we will open at least 30 stores a year,” Trent managing director Philip Auld said here today at the opening of a new store in the city.

He said such aggressive expansion for Westside has been unprecedented but did not mention how much the company will be investing in its aggressive push.

Trent’s standalone net profit of Rs 11.66 crore in the Q4 period ended March 2018, down from Rs 25.26 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year, has not set it back on expansion plans, he said.

Auld said Westside accounts for around 90 per cent of the standalone revenue for Trent.

The Q4 standalone revenue from operations was at Rs 528.72 crore, up from Rs 448.36 crore for the same period of FY’17.

Westside currently has 125 stores of which 30-40 are franchised.

Auld said the expansion of stores is likely to be equally distributed in metros and tier-II cities.

The company sees no funding hurdle for the proposed store expansion as it has adequate internal accruals and expects its debt book not to be leveraged much.

In a recent board meeting, Trent has approved an enabling resolution for raising of funds by issue of non-convertible debentures on a private placement basis not exceeding Rs 500 crore.

Auld said retail chains Westside, Starmarket and Zudio will be the three major growth pillars for the company, going forward.

He said Spanish retail chain Zara, in which the Tata company holds 49 per cent stake in a JV for India, is doing well.

Zudio, which is promoted by the company as a value brand, will also open additional 20 stores by next March.

Presently, Zudio has seven standalone stores and 12 shop-in-shops.

Trent and Tesco JV company Star will expand starmarket stores primarily in the west and southern regions where it currently operates.

“About 20 Starmarket stores will be opened this year.

We have now 24 Starmarkets and 12 hyper market formats,” Auld said. PTI BSM JM JM JM 05181902