New govt unlikely to be positive for retail industry: Experts

Written by PTI | Mumbai | Updated: May 11 2014, 17:57pm hrs
NewInvestors, both domestic as well as international, are also not keen on investing in developing retail real estate
A new government is unlikely to bring any cheers to the domestic retail industry unless it spells out its foreign direct investment policy for the sector in which investors are holding back investments due to lack of clarity, industry experts have said.

"Everyone is talking about a stable government and growth prospects of the country. But I do not feel there is any good news for the retail sector, especially when there is no clarity on foreign direct investment in the sector," DTZ India Chief Executive Anshul Jain said.

He said due to lack of clarity on the policy front, especially on allowing FDI in the retail sector, international investors are not ready to invest.

"The manifesto of BJP has clearly said it will not allow FDI in multi-brand sector. Unless the government takes certain favourable decisions on this, the growth of the sector is unlikely," he added.

Investors, both domestic as well as international, are also not keen on investing in developing retail real estate, Jones Lang LaSalle Country Head Anuj Puri told PTI.

"Since 100 per cent FDI is allowed in development of commercial properties according to norms, the investor has to do all the ground work, including getting all the approvals for building layouts and infrastructure facilities among others. Investors fear the challenges that come along with this.

"Besides, there is no guarantee about getting the right retailers and are sceptical about returns. Therefore, they are unwilling to take the risk," he said.

Similar is the case with domestic private equity investors, who are forced to look at other options in the real estate sector.

"There was a time when we witnessed huge investments in mall development from domestic players. But due to the risks like delay in approvals, rising cost and low returns, even they are cautious," Puri said.

"We do not see any relief to the sector at least in the near future. It is only if the existing norms are tweaked that the industry will move on the growth path," he added.

Milestone Capital Managing Partner and CEO Alok Aggarwal said: "Domestic investors are not keen on investing in mall development. Getting the approvals and right mix of retailers is a challenging task.

"We may think if the location is perfect, but if we do not get the desired footfalls, the entire business plan goes haywire. We had to sell one of our malls at a lower valuation. It was not the mall that fetched us money, but the appreciation of that land parcel helped offset the losses."

Inorbit Mall Managing Director and CEO Kishore Bhatija said: "Because of the prevailing challenges, we have seen a number of mall owners putting their properties on block, because they cannot bear the burden of rising interest rates as they have to block huge amounts in buying the land, etc. As PE players are not investing in such projects, developers have to rely on debt financing."