With the business of organized retail becoming more competitive with the entry of several deep-pocketed players—including Reliance Industries Ltd and the Aditya Birla Group—Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd, part of the Future Group, and which operates the Big Bazaar chain of stores, is pulling out all stops to win consumers, including offering services such as tailoring, laundry, even vacuum-cleaning homes and repairing electronic appliances.
“We will be adding a whole range of services one by one,” said Rajan Malhotra, chief executive, Big Bazaar. The services will be offered by a new unit, Future Services.
According to Malhotra, Pantaloon will launch the services in its hypermarkets in Mumbai in the next three weeks and will follow it up with launches in its stores in Bangalore and the National Capital Region. He said the company has already put in place the logistics for such services in Mumbai and is in the process of doing so in other cities.
While organized retail in India is still at a nascent stage, it is growing as people become more affluent and consumption patterns change. That’s translating into a business opportunity for organized retailing and attracting players ranging from Bharti Enterprises Ltd to Reliance Industries.
Pantaloon managing director Kishore Biyani believes there is potential even for shoe-shines and doctors in modern malls and stores.
Pantaloon already provides some services—including painting, carpentry and plumbing—in its home improvement stores, Home Town, but it will now have a full-fledged entry into a sector synonymous with millions of small and unorganized service providers. At Home Town, which resembles large western do-it-yourself or DIY stores, the mantra for Indian consumers is “don’t do it yourself” because India, with a population in excess of a billion, has a huge pool of affordable labour.