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  • DMart will be no pushover for RelianceVarun Sood
    DMart will be no pushover for RelianceAltamount Road is the billionaire boulevard in Mumbai, home to many of India’s wealthiest. The 27-floor palace of Mukesh Ambani, India’s wealthiest person, is about a four-minute walk from the home of Radhakishan Damani, currently the second-wealthiest Indian, who lives on the 30th floor of Prithvi Apartments. As a shift in India’s organized retail sector plays out, a clash between the two billionaires is imminent. For weeks now, the air in newsrooms has hung heavy with the rumour of an imminent sale of Kishore Biyani’s retail empire to Reliance Retail, owned by Reliance Industries Ltd, Ambani’s oil-to-telecom conglomerate. Last week, the Future group of companies, asked to explain a drastic increase in its companies’ stock prices, told the capital markets regulator it wouldn’t comment on rumours. A day later, Reliance too sent a similar letter. For old-timers, there is a sense of déjà vu. In 2012, too, it was rumoured that Reliance was close to buying Future group, but it walked away after due diligence. This time around, though, a deal looks imminent. If the transaction goes through, the contours of the Indian organized retail landscape will change—it’ll be a straight-up fight between Ambani’s Reliance Retail and Radhakishan Damani’s Avenue Supermarts Ltd, which runs the budget supermarket chain DMart.
  • Kishore Biyani falters. Again.T Surendar
    Kishore Biyani falters. Again.This is not the first time India’s modern retail pioneer—Future Group founder and CEO Kishore Biyani—has staked his kingdom. Just eight years back, he landed in enough of a tight spot that he had to sell parts of a business empire that he’d painstakingly built over decades. This time around too, he doubled down his bets in business by pledging ownership equity at a time when his companies are loaded with debt. The man is now, miraculously, just a few steps away from losing control.
  • Reliance, Aramco and JioAshish K. Mishra
    Reliance, Aramco and JioI have been on Reliance Jio’s tail so to speak for a good few weeks now. If you are fresh into the subject, I’d recommend you read two of my earlier pieces, Reliance Jio and Facebook, and a note on the eventual Facebook-Jio investment. Both are subscriber-only stories. That said, a quick recap is in order. In the Facebook-Jio investment note following the transaction, I had said: ...In fact, I could not help but notice that in the announcements both Ambani and Zuckerberg stayed far away from making any super app claims. Executives I spoke with said that Facebook isn’t likely to open the WhatsApp API to developers from Jio to build an app within an app. A. The company has never done this in the past. B. There is no reason to play around with the WhatsApp chat experience by introducing an e-commerce layer.
  • COVID-19 isn’t quite retail’s demonetization momentSaif Iqbal
    COVID-19 isn’t quite retail’s demonetization momentAs mom-and-pop neighbourhood stores scaled down over the past few weeks and white-collar workers began working from homes, organized retail—from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar chains—has seen booming demand. Now that India has entered a nationwide lockdown and inter- and intra-city transportation has ground to a halt, the consumer’s dependence on these two channels is set to increase further. We are in the middle of what has widely been construed the “demonetization […]
  • India loves Amazon, India hates AmazonPradip K. Saha
    India loves Amazon, India hates AmazonIn 2016, during his fourth visit to the US after coming to power in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about his government’s efforts to maintain prudent macroeconomic policies and improve the investment climate in the country. The Indian economy was doing alright. The outlook was okay, even positive. The prime minister was buoyant and extremely bullish on the future. At the US-India Business Council’s 41st Annual Leadership Summit, […]
  • India’s eyewear gold rushHarveen Ahluwalia
    India’s eyewear gold rushGhaziabad, MumbaiSome of ClearDekho’s advertising tactics can make you chuckle. For brand ambassadors, this three-year-old company partners with local milkmen in Delhi NCR. They are told to wear ClearDekho glasses and introduce the company in households where they deliver milk every morning. In return, the milkmen earn a small commission. The company also sets up eye camps at the strangest of locations. Like a temple where it solicits the vast masses whose feeble eyes can see a god in all her splendour but struggle to read time from a wall clock. In neighbouring Delhi, Bollywood celebrity Katrina Kaif speaks from countless optical shops saying “I’m hooked”. She’s the brand ambassador for Lenskart, another eyewear company, founded in 2010 and which has raised a total of $186 million in funding from several venture capital investors. This includes the likes of PremjiInvest (the investment vehicle of Wipro founder Azim Premji), TPG Growth and World Bank arm International Finance Corp. Speculation is rife that Lenskart is set to receive another $350 million from Japanese conglomerate and venture investor SoftBank, which will put it in the exalted unicorn club of startups valued at $1 billion or more. It would be appropriate to say eyewear has never been more visible in India.
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