India’s largest listed retailer Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd plans to open up to 250 no-frills discount grocery stores in the New Delhi region in the next two years and debut in Mumbai later this month as it targets the country’s price-sensitive consumers. In August, Pantaloon Retail rolled out its small neighbourhood discount format KB’s Fair Price Value Stores in many localities in the northern part of New Delhi. It has since expanded to the city’s eastern and western neighbourhoods. KB’s Fair Price stocks a limited number of discounted essential household products and the stores are no-frills and non-air-conditioned.
“We have moved from the pilot stage and the response we received has been very positive,” Saurabh Chadha, who spearheads the company’s business into the format said.
The company will roll out 15 KB’s Fair Price Value Stores in Mumbai’s western suburbs later this month and will follow that up with another two dozens stores in Navi Mumbai in February, Chadha said. The company plans to open more than 1,500 stores in many of the country’s major cities in the next three years and Mumbai will have 200 stores by the end of this period, said Damodar Mall, who heads Pantaloon’s ventures into new businesses. Currently the company operates about two dozen KB’s Fair Price stores in New Delhi.
Neighbourhood stores have been the most aggressive format for a host of modern retailers as companies, including Reliance Retail Ltd, Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd, and HyperCity Retail Pvt. Ltd, among others, have opened more than 1,000 such stores in 2007 alone. At the same time, the format has been the most controversial as smaller traders believe such stores pose a direct threat to their business.