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And the shoppers just won’t stop
- Lifestyle majors cash in on retail market boom, target record turnover figures

More than 300,000 shoppers have walked in through its sensormatic portals in the past three months, soaking in the “international feel” of the steel and glass, the enhanced illumination, see-through gondolas and bold signages — not to mention the expansive garment-plus brand-mix.

The first Shoppers’ Stop outlet in eastern India, the sprawling 50,000-sq-ft anchor at lifestyle mall Forum on Elgin Road, has already connected with Calcutta, feel officials of the retail giants. And, with another 57,000 sq ft being readied for the chain’s second store at Salt Lake’s City Centre, the group’s commitment to the city is clear.

“This is our maiden venture in the East and we are still finding our feet in Calcutta, gauging consumer preferences. But the start has been great. And we are confident the walk-ins will grow, leading to better conversion, once the multiplex and the food court are integrated to the mall,” says Sanjay Badhe, director, operations, Shoppers’ Stop. The Forum store has drawn up a turnover target of Rs 30 crore in its first year of operations.

If Shoppers’ is bullish about Calcutta, old favourite Pantaloons is gung-ho, too, signalling a real retail boom. “Our 22 Camac Street store remains the largest-selling Pantaloons outlet in the country and we are targeting a sales turnover of Rs 50 crore next year,” declares Pantaloon (India) Pvt Ltd managing director Kishore Biyani. The Lower Parel outlet in Mumbai comes a distant second, with a turnover target of Rs 40 crore.

Pantaloons, with a 30 per cent growth in turnover at 22 Camac Street and 32 per cent at the Gariahat store for the January-May period, is keen to keep its pole position, with Shoppers’ Stop in hot pursuit. “We are excited by the competition. It can only grow the market,” observes R.S. Rekhi, head, operations, east, Pantaloons.

Shoppers’ Stop’s Badhe agrees competition “makes one smarter and triggers spin-offs, which eventually benefit the consumer”. Following the “phenomenal recall” of its oft-used-Bengali-phrases campaign (aaste ladies…) the store is lining up a series of promos and in-store events, kicking off with a fashion show on men’s ethnicwear this Sunday.

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