Retail space back in biz as firms gear up for acquisition, recast

Written by Sajan C Kumar | Chennai | Updated: Apr 6 2010, 04:30am hrs
Country's retail space is yet again bustling with activities with a slew of players either finalising acquisition deals or firming up restructuring plans.

Paving way for major expansion, the retail major Future group is understood to have bought out the India franchisee store of South Africa's biggest grocery chain, Shoprite Holding. The company is already in pact with Staples Inc, USA, the world's largest office products company. Future group currently operates around 1,000 stores spread over 16 million square feet of retail space. Pantaloon Retail, the group's flagship company, manages some of India's most popular retail chains such as Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar and Central. "The group is in the process of hiving off Big Bazaar into a different entity as it has emerged as the largest format and the management thinks that time has come to look at the business separately," said people close to the company, on condition of anonymity.

Another retail player, Vishal Retail is undergoing major shake-up scheme. The lenders of debt-ridden company reported to have finalised the agreement on restructuring, which includes a package for the entry of a strategic investor. The investor will bring in funds to clear all its liabilities before going in for the delisting. Among others, Texas Pacific Group (TGP), a private equity investor has put in bid for Vishal. "Once the debt is wiped out, the retail firm can go into a long-term expansion plan which may see delisting first and re-listing after a gap of 4-5 years," said sources in the know. The retail arm of the Aditya Birla group, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd which operates 'More' has plans to scale up its private labels business and intends to add new categories, IT and consumer durables, by 2011-12.

Manappuram group has decided to enter jewellery retail business. The flagship company of the group, Manappuram General Finance and Leasing Ltd (MAGFIL), is one of India's largest listed, gold loan company. Rs 1,000 crore investment has been planned over the next five years to open 50 jewellery outlets in South India, according to V P Nandakumar, chairman of Manappuram group.

The UAE-based EMKE group is building a Rs 1,500-crore shopping mall in Kochi and is slated to be operational by June 2011. "The mall would be the largest in the country when completed," EMKE group and Lulu International Shopping Mall MD MA Yusaffali said.

Developed by Express Infrastructure, 85% of the Express Avenue's sprawling 8 lakh sq-ft has been leased out to more than 160 popular brands. To give Chennai the viewing experience of high- class mulitplex, the renowned PVR Cinemas is all set to operate 7 screen multiplex at the recently-launched Ampa Skywalk, the mall built by the Ampa Group in the city.