The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After the debut, record chase
- Judging Calcutta’s mood and swinging to it

It’s here, and the doors are finally open. While hundreds of eager shoppers walked in with curiosity and walked out with shopping bags brimming on Friday, a small group of Trinamul Congress supporters waved flags and shouted “ kaaj dao, chakri dao (give us jobs)”. But Shoppers’ Stop, all shiny and new, seemed ready to set new retail records.

Although the Elgin Road store will take another two weeks to stock the shelves, there is no mistaking the range and variety of products available to the Calcutta customer. At ground level are the home collection, cosmetics and accessories sections, with everything from crystal and shoes to sunglasses and perfumes on offer.

Level one houses women’s wear, western and ethnic, from top brand labels. On level two, the kids can literally have a blast, in the play area, baby nursery, clothes and toys departments, while the parents browse through the denims, casuals and sportswear. And on level three, the men will find what they want from the retail chain that holds the world record for the longest tie (131 ft, after their initial record of 127 ft was broken).

For those looking for a little relaxation after a hard day’s shopping, there’s a Barista coffee bar, as well as customer care and financial services.

“We don’t know what Calcuttans want yet,” explains B.S. Nagesh, MD and CEO of Shoppers’ Stop. “We have to judge their moods and swing with it. Customer care is our trademark, and we aim to keep up that standard here.” So, national festivals that are held in their other stores will also come to Calcutta, like Parikrama, which continues over two weeks from August 15 every year and is a celebration of Indian art and local artistes, and Seven Wonders of the World. “Within the next month, we hope to organise a few Calcutta-specific events,” he adds.

With 45,000 sq ft of floor space, of which about 17,000 sq ft is “just for walking around”, discount seasons, loyalty programmes and credit-card offers, the retail chain hopes to woo shoppers in the queue up to the December opening of their 16th store, in Salt Lake’s planned City Centre. “We hope to earn about Rs 30 to Rs 36 crore in the first year from our first store in Calcutta, because this city is a very important location. The eastern region accounts for about eight to 12 per cent of the national retail business,” adds the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) member. “And this is just the beginning,” smiles Nagesh. “We want to open three to four stores every year. Our aim is 35 outlets by 2007.”

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