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Fresh lease of life for nifty Nanz

New Delhi, Nov. 10: Nanz Supermarkets, the first supermart chain in the country, is set to do a Phoenix soon.

The food and grocery store chain, which was initially set up by Escorts and then shut down, is being revived by Wholemart, a UK-based company.

The first new Nanz store is to be opened by the end of this year in New Delhi and at least three stores will be up and running in the city by the first quarter of the next year. Wholemart has already put up about seven supermarkets in West Asia and provides strategic consultancy services in Europe.

The equity holding of the earlier overseas promoters—amounting to 66.6 per cent—has gone to Wholemart, while Escorts retains one-third of the equity through its group company Goetze.

Originally, Nanz was promoted by three equal promoters—Helmut Nanz, head of the multi-billion German retail chain, Don Marsh, CEO of US convenience store major Village Pantry, and the Nandas of Escorts. At one stage, there was talk of the Nandas quitting the business altogether, but apparently they are now all set to continue with a revival plan.

Marketing wizard R. K. Caprihans has been recently inducted as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Nanz Food Products Ltd, the company that operated the Nanz Stores in India. “The nature of the stores will by and large remain the same as before, that is food and grocery store,” said Caprihans.

The industry buzz is that if all goes well, investments running into several hundreds of crores of rupees will be sunk afresh into the Nanz project. Caprihans confirmed an initial investment plan of Rs 25 crore for the first three projects in Delhi within the first quarter of next year. He said this will be followed by further investment and expansion plans for the next phase.

The first Nanz outlet started way back in 1993 in New Delhi. At its peak, the chain had 22 stores in the National Capital Territory (NCR) region of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

However, the chain of stores was running into losses and fell much behind its projected turnover. At present, all Nanz outlets have downed shutters and some stores were demolished for violating building bye-laws.

“Nanz had failed because it was ahead of its time. The rentals were also very high at that time in Delhi, which have since come down substantially in the last three years. We are very careful with the municipal building by-laws this time and everything has been taken care of,” Caprihans said.

Before taking over the reins at Nanz, Caprihans was director (marketing) for scooter maker LML. His earlier stints include a spell as vice-president (marketing) at Kelvinator and a three-year tenure at Samsung Electronics.

Will Nanz strike it lucky this time' The time may be right for food and grocery retailing, but there’s also competition in the form of a new chain of stores like Bombay Bazaar and other stores that have sprung up in Delhi in recent times.

Although retailing is the biggest trading channel in India, only about 1 per cent of the business in the country is conducted through the organised retail chains with the scene still dominated by the friendly neighbourhood kirana stores.

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