Mom & pop stores decide to go snazzy

FDI

Bhartia and fellow traders have registered a new private company called Grahak Super Mart last year. The objective is to make Grahak Super Mart a retail chain managed on the lines of a co-operative. Member-shopkeepers will be franchisees of the mart, displaying its logo on their signboard.

The shops will have smartly-dressed attendants. Boys will wear trousers and t-shirts, while there is still debate on whether girls should be dressed in skirts/trousers or salwar kameez, he said.

Today consumers are put off by the ambience in existing stores and, therefore, prefer going to larger retail chains. Delhi-based training institute Receptive Acumen Skill Development has been hired to conduct orientation sessions for shopkeepers.

The big chains leverage their size to get huge discounts from producers and manufacturers and are thus able to sell cheap. Grahak Mart plans to replicate this by centralised procurement, processing and packing of loose provisions, besides sourcing packaged goods directly from manufacturers at the discounts available to big retail chains.

Does that mean smaller retailers are okay with large retail chains entering India? No, said Kirti Rana, director, APMC, Navi Mumbai. Rana who has been instrumental in mooting a 'farmers-to-market' terminal market project in Navi Mumbai said a level playing field is required for smaller retailers to sustain themselves. Traders are being dismissed as middlemen when they are specialists, he said. According to Bhartia, small retailers are not permitted to store over a 100 sacks of grain in their stores.

The strategy will be two-pronged, said Bhartia. Agitate to stall the entry of large retail chains and educate the smaller retailers on the need to spruce up and improve their functioning and marketing to sustain themselves. Bhartia hopes that clarity would emerge from the meet at Jaipur where 100 trade body representatives are expected to converge.

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