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December 29, 2016 One of the biggest names in retail, Ikea, will open its

One of the biggest names in retail, Ikea, will open its door to customers in India. The Swedish firm plans to pump in more than Rs 10,000 crore over the next few years to expand its footprint in the country.

In May, Massimo Dutti, the renowned Spanish premium fashion brand, finally inaugurated its inaugural store in India, over two years subsequent to obtaining government approval for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Following the authorization for 100 percent single-brand operations, leading German sportswear giants Puma and Adidas Group seized the opportunity to establish their standalone retail outlets during the same period. Prior to this milestone, their presence in the Indian market was primarily facilitated through franchise arrangements.

“Puma India MD Abhishek Ganguly expressed confidence that direct involvement in retail operations would provide invaluable insights into customer behavior while facilitating more meaningful engagement with our clientele. Ganguly emphasized plans for the future, outlining intentions to establish larger, strategically positioned stores under our own management.”

However, multi-brand retail remained a no-go zone for foreign retailers.

The silver lining during the year for foreign retailers was the governments decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in food retail.

Foreign retailers such as Walmart, Tesco and Auchan are said to be evaluating the option of entering the food retailing sector in India.

According to Food Processing Secretary A K Srivastava, a leading Brazilian poultry company has expressed keenness in joining hands with Kishore Biyanis Future group to sell products in the country. He, however, did not identify the company or give details.

As per industry experts, this can be an interesting opportunity, going forward, for foreign multi-brand retailers.

The retail sector, which is pegged to grow to USD 1.3 trillion by 2020, clocked a growth of 12 per cent during the year, despite availability of good retail space posing as a major challenge.

Looking back at the year, Rajagopalan said: “The year was one with a lot of momentum for retail. We received a clarification from DIPP on FDI (foreign direct investment) rules for e-commerce, which was a significant step in creating a level-playing field between both channels of retail ? offline and online. The passage of GST Bill was another development with a huge impact on retail.”

Hailing GST as an important reform for the retail sector, Rajagopalan said: “Once rolled out, GST will reduce distribution costs and wastage as cascading effect of taxes will go. The speed to market will see an increase, as retailers can produce wherever and sell wherever to meet demand of consumers.”

Rajagopalan added: “Whats most important is the availability of products for customers will improve. However, a lot will depend on the actual rollout and adoption by states.”

Another key step forward for retail this year was the unveiling of state-level retail trade policies by several states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka which facilitate ease of doing business.

While announcing the annual budget for 2016-17, Finance Minster Arun Jaitley mooted the idea of allowing small, medium shops to remain open on all days.

Continuing with the trend of the previous year, predominantly online players such as Nykaa, Voylla, Lenskart and Zivame continued to expand operations through brick and mortar stores as well.

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