The next time you are at a supermarket, you could do a spot of fishing and catch your lunch. And while you are at it, you can pick the milk of your choice, from several varieties on display, and have some fresh butter made out of it.
Both are part of Reliance Retail’s efforts to differentiate itself from a clutch of other retailers in an organized retail market that is seeing frenetic activity on the part of companies—large and small, Indian and multinational.
Reliance is lobbying the food, health and agriculture departments of the government to allow it to stock live fish (existing government regulations prohibit this).
“We hope to get a licence (for this) before we roll out our fist super-market in May,” said a source at the company who did not wish to be identified.
Reliance Retail is the organized retail business of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), India’s most valuable company in terms of market capitalization.
Reliance will test consumer response to its live-fish experiment in its first hypermarket, which will open for business in RIL’s township in Jamnagar where its refinery is based.
The township is home to 20,000 employees, and “with the refinery readying for an expansion, an additional 25,000 people will move to it, giving the company a large captive audience to try out its experiments,” said the source.
However, people familiar with the thinking at Reliance, who did not wish to be identified, said the company also has the option of launching its hypermarket foray in Ahmedabad where it is readying about 200,000 sq. ft of retail space.
A spokesperson for Reliance declined to comment.
At the hypermarket, said the company source, the fish would be stocked in giant tanks. The concept may be new to India, but is common practice in several markets abroad, including China, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Consumers visiting the hypermarket can also buy the milk of their choice (cow, buffalo or goat, the source told Mint), to have it processed for various dairy products even as they shop for other things.
“To start with, we plan to offer buttermilk, white butter, and ghee (clarified butter),” said the source. “Eventually, we will make ice-cream.” The source added that Reliance was shopping for processing equipment in Denmark. Some Indian retailers have, in the past, experimented with collecting milk from dairy farmers and selling it in their stores.
Reliance also plans to leverage the fact that its hypermarkets will attract a large number of consumers and seek bargain deals for holidays in popular destinations in India and elsewhere from tour operators and even tourism boards, said the source.
He also claimed the company was negotiating similar deals with several airlines.
“Essentially, the hypermarket will sell holiday packages but their price will be lower(than what they usually are),” he said.