Interview Rakesh Biyani, director, Future Group

Written by Mona Mehta | ?Growth viable for organised retailers in metros, tier-I cities? | Updated: Feb 19 2010, 16:32pm hrs
Future Group is chalking out plans anticipating a revival in the retail sector. It would set up 130 branded stores at an investment of Rs 300-Rs 400 crore with a focus on scaling up retail stores area size and a foray into the northern markets in this financial year, said Rakesh Biyani, director of Future Group, to FE's Mona Mehta. Excerpts:

What is your take on the revival in the retail sector

Beginning this financial year, retail market dynamics has totally changed, making retail expansion viable for organised retailers in metros and tier-I cities. There is absolutely no slowdown in the retail sector. In fact, following low retail rentals, we sincerely feel this is the best time to set up more stores. Our overall retail expansion plans include setting up 40 Planet Sports, leading multi-brand sports lifestyle retail chain and 100% subsidiary of Pantaloon Retail India Ltd, at an investment of Rs 60 crore. Of the 40 stores, 28 will be Planet Sports stand-alone outlets within retail malls, and the remaining 14 will be mono brand stores under Planet Sports. This is because a retailer generates more revenues through multi-brand standalone stores within retail malls, as compared to mono brand ones.

How big will Future Group's new Planet Sports retail stores be in terms of area size

The area of each of the existing 63 Planet Sport is between 4,000 and 8,000 sqft. The new 40 stores, which we are planning to launch, will have an area of 15,000 sqft each. Planet Sports has the largest collection of international sports and lifestyle brands--Spalding, Prince, Speedo, Converse,

Wilson, Reebok, Nike, Adidas and Puma---apart from sportswear and equipment across various categories such as swimming, water sports, squash, golf, fitness, motor sport and basketball. Since the Rs 10,000-crore international sports and lifestyle brands market is witnessing a 20% rise in demand, it makes sense to set up mono branded stores taking certain brands into consideration. Planet Sports is witnessing same-store sales growth at the rate of 22% in Q2 of 2009-10.

Is the Future Group planning to launch more new international sports brands What revenues will Planet Sports bring to Future Group's stable

Yes, we are. We are planning to launch four to five new international brands as private labels within Planet Sports stores. These brands will be imported from Hong Kong, the UK and the US. This is because our existing private label sports brand, Spunk, and lifestyle sports brand, Agile, are doing well. We hope to grow sales revenues of Planet Sports from Rs 160 crore to Rs 300 crore by the end of this financial year.

What are the major challenges Future Group is facing in the current retail scenario

In the consumption-led Indian retail scenario, it becomes imperative to enhance visual merchandising through new marketing activities for existing and new brands in order to attract more footfalls and spur sales, which we are planning to launch at Planet Sports stores. As part of the strategy, there will be more focus on setting up special makeup units for apparels, accessories and footwear. Besides, we are also planning to implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) as part of the new initiative the within supply chain management to streamline our front-end operations at Planet Sports stores.

How do you expect this Diwali to be for the overall retail sector

This Diwali is expected to be better than the previous one. We are planning to launch loyalty programmes at Planet Sports stores at an investment of Rs 8-10 crore.