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Reliance retail in acquiring mode

Friday, 5 May 2006 - 11:19pm IST

Reliance has initiated discussions with the HP government for acquiring the assets of HPMC, best known for it apple concentrate.

NEW DELHI: Mukesh Ambani’s retail plans are taking shape. Not only is he planning operations on a stupendous scale, he also appears to be leaving no stone unturned in his quest for prime real estate and well-known brands to add sheen to the venture.

Sources said Reliance has initiated discussions with the Himachal Pradesh government for acquiring the assets of the Himachal Pradesh Marketing Corporation (HPMC), best known for it apple concentrate. And the company is also eyeing two other defunct cooperative chains - Super Bazar and Kendriya Bhandar.

HPMC, which has more than 300 warehouses in Himachal and surrounding states, offers Reliance the opportunity to use these facilities as its rural retail hubs (RRHs). Sources said Reliance is negotiating for leasing these warehousing facilities as well as buying equity in HPMC.

The company has already established a mega special economic zone in neighbouring Haryana, but Reliance’ real estate push extends further. It is reported to be eyeing the erstwhile Super Bazar and Kendriya Bhandar stores, primarily for the infrastructure and real estate these two chains  possess.

Take for example Kendriya Bhandar. Also known as the Central Government Employees Consumer Cooperative Society Ltd, Kendriya Bhandar has a network of 112 stores (of which 102 are self-service stores) and 42 fair-price shops across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and other cities. The Bhandar’s last recorded sale was Rs 228.71 crore in 1998-99.

Super Bazar, which falls under the purview of the department of consumer affairs, has been under liquidation since 2002. It also offers prime real estate. In Delhi, for example, the chain is prominently located in the heart of Connaught Place.

When contacted, the official liquidator of Super Bazar, A K Mishra, said the chain is still under liquidation, but the process has not been completed since several parties - mainly workers - have proposed its revival.

The Delhi store of Super Bazar posted sales of Rs 20.84 crore in 2001-02, when its net loss stood at Rs 1.72 crore.

Reliance has already bought over the Sahakari Bhandar chain in Maharashtra. In fact, retail experts point out that the company’s retail model, which envisages mega RRHs for storage and handling of farm fresh produce, will be bolstered by the company’s own air cargo fleet of up to 40 aeroplanes.


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