Friday, January 22, 2010

Bharti Wal-Mart Sets Up Farm Produce Sourcing Centre

Bharti Wal-Mart Pvt. Ltd. said Wednesday it has set up its first centre in the northern Indian state of Punjab to source farm produce for its wholesale cash-and-carry business as well as for the retail stores under the 'Easyday' brand.

Bharti Wal-Mart is a joint venture between the world's largest retailer by revenue, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and India's Bharti Enterprises Ltd., which is the parent company of the country's largest telecommunications company by users, Bharti Airtel Ltd.

The joint venture currently operates a single wholesale store in Punjab.

The agricultural co-operative centre aims to create "a robust aggregating, handling, packaging and delivering system of fresh produce," to the wholesale store that operates under the name Best Price, as well as the 'Easyday' stores, Bharti Wal-Mart said in an e-mailed statement.

The chain of retail stores in India, under the "Easyday" brand, is run by Bharti Retail, another unit of Bharti Enterprises.

Indian laws don't allow multiple-brand retailers, such as U.S.-based Wal-Mart, to sell directly to consumers. But they can run wholesale operations and provide back-end support to local retailers.

The centre will "directly link farmers to consumers, providing them access to quality produce at low prices," said Raj Jain, managing director and chief executive at Bharti Wal-Mart.

Designers explore tier-II towns as orders dry up in west

Small towns and emerging markets are fast-replacing Paris and New York as the hotspots for Indian fashion designers such as Anamika Khanna, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Rajesh Pratap Singh.

With the western world still struggling to come out of its worst recession in several decades, the fashion fraternity is now venturing into small cities and towns in India with cheaper offerings and targeting newer markets in Latin America and Asia. Many designers have opted out of international fashion weeks that charge exorbitant entry fees to focus funds towards what they see as emerging markets outside the big five cities. Anamika withdrew from the European market this year, though she continues to retail in Kuwait and Dubai. “It was a case of growing too big too fast in Europe,” the Kolkata-based designer said.

Rajesh Pratap Singh said he explored better opportunities in new markets such as Latin America last year after facing a lot of order cancellations over the past two seasons. Manish Arora, who operates through a subsidiary in Europe, found new stockists across Bahrain, Singapore and Italy and cut prices by 10-12 %.

But the real hip story is India. Sabyasachi Mukherjee is doing shows in cities such as Chandigarh and Nagpur and has launched an ethno-pret (ready-towear ) line that plays in a lower price band of Rs 5,000-15 ,000. The strategy helped his business expand 65% this year to Rs 22 crore. “The middle class is getting more affluent and it would be foolish not to capitalise on this growing market. I intend to launch a sub brand in a lower price category that will exponentially increase my audience by next year,” he said.

Mumbai-based Krishna Mehta is also overwhelmed by the demand in smaller cities such as Kochi, Vijayawada, Baroda and Rajkot where she entered this year with products priced 25% lower than her retail prices a year ago. She said that the label’s turnover has multiplied thrice in one year and production capacity almost quadrupled. “Organised designer retail in India is ready for a scale game for the first time,” said Delhi-based designer Raghavendra Rathore.

The likes of Mukherjee and Manish Arora now plan to attract venture capital investors by the end of the year to fund expansion. One reason behind the domestic designers’ sudden penchant for cheaper offerings is the fear of foreign brands. “In order to compete with foreign brands, we have brought down the average price bracket of Manish Arora’s western wear to Rs 10, 000-20 ,000 from above Rs 20,000 earlier,” said Deepak Bhagwani, director of Three Clothing Company, which owns the label.

Besides extending into accessories, jewellery and home textiles, Indian designers are increasingly seeing business through design collaborations in India.

While Mukherjee has tied up with real estate developer Samira Habitat to design five luxury villas in Alibaug, Rajesh Pratap Singh has several multiplex interior projects in the pipeline. Manish Arora has launched a crockery collection with home accessories chain Good Earth in addition to his sub-brand Fish Fry that was licensed to Reebok just as Aki Narula is collaborating with sports lifestyle brand PUMA. Rajesh Pratap Singh also plans to add sev

LS Retail to set up CoE in India

LS Retail, a leading Dynamics Retail Solutions provider, has chosen Dynamic Vertical Solutions (DVS), business management applications provider, to set up its “Retail Centre of Excellence” (CoE) in India.

The “Retail Centre of Excellence”, is an initiative to provide retailers of all sizes insights into usage and application of cutting edge technologies in the retail industry and would showcase an end-to-end solution roadmap for the retail industry.

Through the Retail Centre of Excellence DVS would demonstrate the strengths of its retail offerings provide thought leadership on industry issues and promote usage of ground breaking technologies making it a centre of learning for the Indian retail community.

Gunnar Gunnarsson, CEO of LS Retail said “LS Retail is very proud to announce DVS as our chosen Retail Centre of Excellence in India. We are confident that the retail industry in India, and globally, will benefit from the technological educational and best practice learning that this Centre will provide.”

Microsoft India, the Indian subsidiary office of Microsoft Redmond, has given its full support to this initiative. DVS which works very closely with Microsoft as one of its primary Principal Partners will look to support Microsoft Dynamics Partners in India and across the globe to penetrate and support the Indian Retail Market.

Rajan Anandan, Managing Director, Microsoft India said, “The Retail Centre of Excellence will be a much required platform and space for businesses to interact, learn and adopt best of breed retail technology solutions. The CoE will act as a facilitator for the retail industry, in its quest for achieving competitive advantage in the market place.”

Through the newly created Retail Centre of Excellence, DVS will deliver business value to retailers seeking to improve their bottom line profitability.

The 'Retail Centre of Excellence' will be fully operational to go live in the First Quarter of the next financial year (April-June 2010).
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