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Bose and other companies ride Indian retail boom

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February 2007
Bose and other companies ride Indian retail boom

India's retail boom, which has elicited cheers and also concern, is a revolution that's transforming what's been dubbed a Nation of Shopkeepers. "With about 11 retail shops for every 1000 persons, India has the highest shop density in the world," states The Economic Times. "That's one shop for every 20-25 families. In cities, the density is much higher. Delhi, for example, has nearly 45 shops per 1000 persons!" This is perhaps not so astonishing, since even humble roadside shops stock retail items. The paper adds that America and Britain have 5 and 4 shops, respectively, for every 1000 persons.

Most shops in India are small-time operations, and there is also a large unorganized sector. So the fear among independent merchants is understandable. But there is no stopping the retail juggernaut, which rolls on in the form of supermarkets, mega malls and giant chains. And the changes do bring benefits, at least to middle-class consumers. The Indian retail industry (organized and unorganized), worth $300 billion a year, is projected to more than double in less than a decade. The retail market share held by large stores is expected to rise from 3 to 18 percent over the next five years.

Following Wal-Mart's announcement of a partnership with Bharati Enterprises, other American behemoths are probably itching to enter the lucrative Indian market. Single-brand retailers ranging from Nokia and Nike to Levi and Lee have already made inroads, and the news for them gets better now that they can have up to 51 percent ownership in India. Also worth mentioning is an Indian-American connection. Bose Corporation plans to make India its third biggest retail market (the U.S. is first, followed by Japan). Over the next six months, it is opening stores in Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kochi, Ludhiana and Pune.


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