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If you are in the retail sector, “take a deep breath”…

September 12th, 2008 by Devangshu Dutta

You can probably tell that I’ve held the view for some time now that the retail sector needs to pause for breath, and evaluate its growth strategies on some very fundamental parameters. (“Disclaimer”: Having invested 2 decades in the retail sector, I have an inbuilt bias towards the entrepreneurial and organic nature of retail, which is probably evident!)

As I was recently writing an article with the theme of “realism” echoing strongly, I came across this statement by Kishore Biyani of Future Group on 27 August: “I was an eternal optimist; now I have become a realist.” (Bringing Back Retail Realism, from MINT).

Now, with the India Retail Forum coming up next week, it’s interesting to read a mailer from the Retailers Association of India, with this wonderful quote from B. S. Nagesh, of Shopper’s Stop: “We have opened store after store and are in the process of opening many more – 100 … 500 … 1,000 … 5,000 and may be many more. Let us pause for a while for a reality check … Are our customers happy? Are our employees happy? Are our vendors happy? Are our stakeholders happy? Are we happy? …. The answer for all these questions ought to be ‘YES’ but in reality it is ‘NO’ for some. Where we have gone wrong? What do we have to do?… It’s time to share, reveal, reconcile and find ways to amend … And to open up, debate, consolidate and collaborate thoughts before we take the next step.”

I think we may finally get things back on track, with two of the most prominent leaders of the business asking the sector to reconsider and review.

When I wrote an article titled “The Myth and Reality of the Retail Revolution” 2-years ago (in August 2006), some friends looked at the title and said I was being pessimistic. I disagreed, and said that I was being realistic, especially since I ended it by saying that the real retail boom had not yet happened, and we had only scratched the surface. Organic growth will get us there – crash and burn won’t. (To judge for yourself open that article as a PDF – click here.)

What do you think?

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