In an exclusive interview published in Enterprising India, Kishore Biyani the Pioneer of Indian Retail spoke on his entrepreneurial retail yatra. His venture Manz Wear started at the age of 26 later transformed into Pantaloon Fashions / Retail. Excerpts from his interview is as follows,
Leaving the Family Business to Stand on Own Feet
While still in college I had decided that I didn’t want to continue in my family trade. I trusted my own nose for business and wanted to start something on my own. There were a few things that I found disagreeable in the family business. Firstly, there was the financial micro-management, which allowed little space for growth. If there are only accountants running each pocket of the business, where are the entrepreneurs going to come from? Secondly, instead of seeking out new opportunities, the mindset with the family business was to preserve things the way they were.
Points of Inflection in Kishore’s Retail Journey from the beginning
It’s a journey—you start with something, you discover something. With every step you take, you see things differently. Getting into the fabric business or the yarn business led me to the fashion business. Then, fashion led me to focus on consumers, on their shopping wallet. And then, on India’s consumption story, and how it is driving growth. So, it’s a journey, it’s a process. We didn’t plan it when we started the journey, but now things are much clearer.
Did Kishore taste failure in his early days ?
Business is a journey of learning. Unless you fail, how do you learn? We have failed enough in everything we have done, may be on a smaller scale. We would have never learnt had we not failed. There have been many times when I have felt like quitting. To overcome this, one has to work with double the vigour. It is ‘double or quit’.
Mr. Biyani on Corporations with Deep Pockets entering the Retail Business
There was a lot of hype built up. We were not worried, though we were concerned about talent acquisition and real estate becoming expensive; not about the business per se. The retail business opportunity is huge in India. I feel consumption will increase with competition. I think all retailers will have to work on building demand and creating new areas of consumption rather than running after the same consumption. If that happens, there will be no fear of competition.
The Current State of Indian Retail Industry
Retail is a tough business, but consumption will happen in the country. We didn’t do as badly as was being projected. Categories such as food and fashion didn’t get affected as much, though some categories and price points were hit. But now I think we are back in business. More or less, all categories have bounced back.
The Turmoil and How Pantaloon Managed to Survive – Recall Garav Se Kaho Hum Kanjoos Hey
We were the early players and made the mistakes early on at a smaller scale. For us, retail is our bread and butter, so we do it passionately and we will run for it. We have to survive on this. Some of the new entrants who got into retail were large corporate houses. For them it’s another business. Retail is all about how you build up an emotional account with the customer. The customer account is one-on-one, because retail is all about one transaction; that one business, that one bill, that one product. We make more than 80 million bills a year. Eighty million relationships are not so easy to manage. It’s a continuous process. Retail is a long-haul business.
The Interview will continue tomorrow, stay tuned until then.