From Camac Street in Calcutta to Hill Cart Road in Siliguri, organised retailing is the sector to watch in the state. Backed by strengths like high disposable income among consumers, low real-estate prices as compared to other metros and abundance of human resources, the fledgling industry is poised for a take-off in Calcutta and its surroundings.
And while established retails players — like Pantaloons and Haldirams — are busy drawing up expansion plans and the new ones are preparing entry strategies, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has decided to facilitate the development of retailing in the state.
Starting August 19, the apex chamber is organising a two-day conference-cum-workshop to identify new opportunities in retail and help the industry grow faster and further in Bengal.
“After the meet, we will present a paper to the state government, highlighting the issues that it should address,” says Sanjay Budhia, chairman, CII, eastern region.
Among a host of demands, the CII wishlist will include industry status for retailing, flexibility in labour laws, tax-breaks and other incentives. The chamber has plans to submit similar papers to various state governments.
“Retailing can play an important role in the state’s economic progress. Besides increasing economic activity, it will also generate huge employment opportunities. We will request the government to grant it industry status to enable retail players access to institutional funds,” says Kurush Grant, chairman, services sub-committee, CII.
“But government policies alone can’t trigger a growth in this sector. The industry will have to do its bit by adopting the best practices and benchmarking against international standards,” he adds.
The two-day meet, besides addressing the operational issues in retailing — from IT solutions and customer care to merchandising and real estate — will also aim at helping both the established players and new entrants in adopting the right business models. A host of experts, from industry and academia, will share their views with the participants.
The list of speakers will include Sanjay Krishnamurti, executive director, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, Dwarika Prasad Uniyal of Mudra Institute of Communication, Arvind Nagrajan, CEO, Dr Morepen Lifespring, Sisir Baijal, CEO, Inox Leisure Ltd and Geoff Marsh of India Property Research Ltd, UK.