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Piramyd Retail Not For Sale; Poised To Grow Rapidly In Future

Piramyd Retail of the Ashok Piramal Group made news recently following speculation about entertaining sell-off discussions with the Aditya Birla Group. Listed on the bourses in 2005, Piramyd was one of the first modern retailers to open shop (1999) in the country. A few years ago, it was seen as a strong competitor to players such as Shopper’s Stop and Kishore Biyani-led Future Group. However, an unclear growth vision saw the company slipping even as the competition picked up steam in the past two years.

ET spoke to Ashok Piramal Group’s 26-year-old vice-chairman, Nandan Piramal, on the group’s seriousness to pursue the retail business. Excerpts:

Your sell-off plans continue to be a subject for intense speculation. Did the Aditya Birla Group actually hold discussions with your group in this regard?

We are not looking to sell. I really do not understand the origin of the speculation. As a company, we have not had talks with any third party for sale. Being a listed company, it is possible that we are perceived as fodder for such discussions. All I can say is that we now have the right people on board and are concentrating on achieving our business goals. There has been a complete change across functions in the way we look at business and a lot of dynamism has been brought in. Our team is in place and the growth focus is clear.

Given that retail is a real estate play and a highly expensive proposition today, how tough has it been to corner space?

Due to the lead-time taken from the time of signing a property till it opens, most of the space was signed 6-12 months ago, at prices, which are substantially different from the ones available today. Also, for a retail model to be viable we have to see a reduction in today’s prices and a correction, especially in retail real estate, is inevitable. Today, most organised retailing and retail property activity is still concentrated in India’s two largest cities, Delhi/NCR and Mumbai. While there are considerable property opportunities in these two cities, increasing competition and growing opportunities in India’s regional markets is encouraging both retailers and property developers to move into new and potentially more rewarding markets. Research has identified 50 cities across India that are ideally positioned to benefit from the booming retail sector. We can, thus, see a new retail city classification based on socio-economic characteristics, retailer activity and shopping mall development. Cities such as Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Lucknow and Kochi are attracting considerable retailer interest due to high incomes and strong brand awareness. Source : The Economic Times (Delhi edition), Kala Vijayraghavan, Mumbai << Back