New Delhi: Reliance Retail Ltd is considering reviving its mothballed grocery stores in suburbs, here, by converting the Reliance Fresh to speciality outlets other than grocery, so that it can keep the space without violating a Uttar Pradesh directive on closure.
, who wished not to be identified, said the company is planning to change the shuttered Reliance Fresh stores in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad to lifestyle, jewellery, footwear, health and wellness stores. “We are looking at (those) options,” confirmed the official. Reliance Retail can no longer sell groceries in some 20 stores because of a state government ban on grocery stores run by organized deep-pocketed retailers.
In August, UP chief minister Mayawati asked Reliance to shut stores because their presence was, according to her, creating social tension in the state—a reference to protests by small traders opposing the entry of large corporations in India’s booming yet sensitive modern retailing. Since the ban Reliance has suspended its ambitious Rs4,000 crore retail roll-out for the state and has fired about 1,000 employees. In addition, the company is breaking rental leases for almost 100 commercial properties it signed up in seven cities in UP.
Large Indian corporations, as well as the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., are set to make major inroads into India’s $300 billion (Rs11.82 trillion) retail market synonymous with millions of small garage-size family-owned stores. The simultaneous push by several of them is also putting pressure on premium retail space and leading to a rush to grab space in malls and shopping complexes.