Mumbai: Retailer Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd, which is seeking protection from looters after failing to pay its guards, is in talks with lenders to restructure debt.
The debt restructuring process will take 30-40 days, R. Subramaniam, founder and managing director of the discount retail chain, said in an interview on Monday. “Realizing our stores are unguarded, they have become easy game for unscrupulous people. We are appealing to the police to protect our stores against large-scale vandalization.”
The retailer, which counts billionaire Azim Premji as an investor, said on 30 January its business was at a near-standstill and it needs Rs300 crore to resume operations. Chennai-based Subhiksha, founded in 1997, ran out of cash in October after relying on a high level of debt, according to the firm.
In hot water: A file photo of Subhiksha’s R. Subramaniam. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Subhiksha’s stores have been vandalized in almost all northern states and parts of Maharashtra, he said. The firm may be able to resume operations after its debt is restructured in about two months, Subramaniam added.
‘PTI’ reported on 7 February that as many as 600 Subhiksha stores and warehouses were attacked.
The firm’s stores were left unguarded after it failed to pay its security agencies and employees. Subhiksha employs about 15,000 people. The convenience store chain, which expanded 10-fold to 1,600 stores in a two-year period starting September 2006, said it will shut 10% of its shops and fire workers as part of a revival plan.
Subhiksha had $474 million (Rs2,303 crore today) in revenue in FY08, according to the company.