Reliance makes retail foray - Company bags Park Circus market for Rs 30.33 crore

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 26.04.07
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Reliance has taken the market route to roll out its retail business in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal.

On Wednesday, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail bagged the contract for the makeover of the Park Circus market, owned by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), for Rs 30.33 crore.

The deal with the civic body comes after the company’s ambitious agricultural retail plan in the state hit a political roadblock due to differences within the ruling Left.

Keen on a big-bang entry into the retail business, Reliance has already booked space in two upcoming projects — in Batanagar and Rajarhat. The company is also aggressively pitching for land in district towns.

The aggression was apparent in the bid value, as the second-highest bidder — city-based Fort Group — trailed by over Rs 9 crore (see box).

According to the contract with the civic body, Reliance will rebuild the rundown market on Karaya Road.

“We are going to use up much of the space ourselves,” said a senior Reliance Retail official, after the bidding results were made public.

In the 2.3-lakh-sq-ft market, Reliance will retain 1.5 lakh sq ft for its own use. The traders of the erstwhile Park Circus market will be relocated, free of cost, in the remaining area and the CMC will be offered some space for its office in the market complex.

Reliance will also have to arrange for temporary rehabilitation of the vendors before demolition the existing structure.

“They (Reliance) will have to carry out the reconstruction within two years,” said municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay.

But before that the mayor’s council and the civic house will have to put their seal of approval on the deal.

With the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government determined to give the city markets a new look, the civic body has decided to involve private partners in the makeover exercise.

Park Circus market is the third civic market — after College Street and Lake Market — in the makeover line. The civic body has plans to follow the same model for the remaining of its 20-odd markets.

“Reliance is keen to take over the civic markets in the city… They have even given us a proposal to float one common tender for all the civic markets,” said a CMC source.

Though that would spare the CMC the hassle of multiple tenders for each market, the civic body is yet to take a final call on the issue.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned retail outfit, however, is not wasting any time. It is already working out plans to fast-track project execution.

For starters, Reliance Retail is poised to sign up city-based Bengal Shelter group — chosen by the CMC to reconstruct the College Street market — to help execute the Park Circus market project.

But Reliance and Bengal Shelter officials did not confirm any such tie-up between the companies.

“It seems a logical step… Bengal Shelter, being a local company, will be able to manage relocation of existing traders better than the others. Besides, they are already in the process of reconstructing College Street market, after relocating the vendors,” said a realty sector source.