New Delhi: Apna Bazaar, one of the oldest retail chains in the city, will lay off at least 100 employees by the end of December using a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), due to mounting losses.
“We have asked our employees to opt for voluntary retirement scheme. Last year around 120 employees took VRS and we will ask another 100 employees to opt for it this year,” said Prabhakar Mane, chairman of Apna Bazaar Cooperative Society.
The chain, which was set up in 1948 by Mumbai mill workers, had losses of Rs1.3 crore in the fiscal year to March. It reported cumulative losses of about Rs15 crore over the past four years, and has cut employee size to 800 from about 2,000 in that period.
Mane attributed the employee reduction to technological advances, particularly computerization, which reduced the number of personnel required for earlier manual operations.
He, however, ruled out diluting the brand by divesting ownership to other retailers, saying cooperatives are facing tough times but have the strength to face competition from private organized retail firms.
In its efforts raise funds, Apna Bazaar has rented out two of its properties, in Naigaon and Charkop, to state-owned insurer Life Insurance Corp of India.
Apna Bazaar has some 70 stores in Mumbai, of which close to 50 are company-owned while the rest are franchises.