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Meet charts retail boom route

2Raymonds setting up four new superstores and launching Be — designerwear for women — with two showrooms

2Shoppers’ Stop scouting for property to take its tally to five

2Café Coffee Day ready to open three more coffee bars

The city is poised for a retail boom. The next six months will see some of the biggest players of the organised retail industry intensifying their presence in Calcutta.

“Suddenly Calcutta has moved up on the list of favoured destinations for major retailers. But to match Mumbai or Delhi, a lot needs to be done in terms of creating quality retail space and promoting the city,” says Hemendra Mathur of KSA Technopak, a leading consulting firm specialising in retailing. Mathur was in town to take part in the national convention on “Retailing Innovation: Challenges and Opportunities” organised by Salt Lake-based ICFAI Business School.

The two-day meet saw budding managers from premier B-schools like Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Xavier Labour Research Institute, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade presenting papers on retail industry. Besides, representatives from the sector — one of the fastest growing segments in the economy — shared their views on the problems and prospects of organised retailing in the country.

“We have eight franchised outlets and we are taking the number to 12 in the next three months. We are also toying with the idea of setting up our first store in Calcutta,” says Bhaskar Chatterjee of Raymonds.

Naresh Malhotra, managing director of Café Coffee Day feels that the city has “grown up” to accept brands and is willing to spend for quality product and service. “We expect an outlet to break even by the sixth month and our two-month-old Rawdon Street outlet is on the right track,” he smiles.

But convincing people is easier said than done and some potential players are “waiting” in the wings to check the performance of those who have already set up shop. “People still have doubts about business viability in Calcutta. If brands like Shoppers’ Stop become a hit, the city will gain a lot,” explains Mathur.

The mega-store management is bullish about its performance as it prepares for the opening of its first store on March 7 and the second by September. “Calcutta was late in the retail revolution. But it’s catching up with a vengeance,” summed up Vijay Kashyap of Shoppers’ Stop.

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