Reliance Retail Ltd will open on Thursday the first outlet in a chain of speciality stores that will sell auto accessories, and service cars in a bid to get a share of the wallets of car owners in one of the world’s fastest growing automobile market.
The company will launch Reliance AutoZone outlets in the western town of Jamnagar in Gujarat, where its parent Reliance Industries Ltd has a refinery. It plans to open up to 400 such stores nationwide in the next three-four years.
Each AutoZone outlet will house a service centre for cars as well as two-wheelers.
“We are not inclined to any make or any model,” says Arun Dey, chief executive of Reliance AutoZone, who previously started the used-car business for India’s largest car company, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, before joining Reliance to spearhead the auto venture in May 2006. “Everyone can come in. Today, most of the outlets are so crowded and use spurious parts…people have no choice.”
The store will also retail electric bikes and the company plans to offer buying and selling of used cars in coming months. Dey says the company plans to open many of the AutoZone outlets alongside Reliance Retail’s other formats, including the hypermarkets and supermarkets, as well as having such outlets in independent locations.
Car makers currently sell 1.4 million cars a year in India and the figure is expected to touch 2.2 million units by 2010. Reliance says it has not tied up with any of the auto companies and will go it alone.
Reliance Retail, which is investing more than $6 billion (Rs23,640 crore) by 2011 to open thousands of grocery stores to hypermarkets, is convinced the automobile market is set to explode. Dey says Reliance has picked Jamnagar to roll out its first 12,000 sq. ft AutoZone outlet as the company has space next to the hypermarket that it opened there this week.
“Jamnagar is a futuristic city and an emerging market…that’s why we have pitched in,” Dey adds.