Retailers see smaller outlets as the next big thing.

Bigger is not always better. Just ask the biggest retailers in the country — and their customers.

Neng Yang, left, purchases a new phone at the Best Buy Mobile mini-store at Independence, Mo., with her brothers Cheng Yang and John Yang, right.

 Neng Yang, left, purchases a new phone at the Best Buy Mobile mini-store at Independence, Mo., with her brothers Cheng Yang and John Yang, right.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To Neng Yang, the Best Buy store in Independence, Mo., is just too overwhelming — so much so that she only shops there once a year, at the holidays.

So when she needed a new cellphone, she bypassed the 55,000-square-foot store with its many departments — appliances, big-screen TVs, computers, cameras, car audio, video and music. Instead, she stopped across the street at the Best Buy Mobile store.

The slimmed-down 850-square-foot sister store concentrates only on mobile devices.

“I ask about a thousand questions, and this is more personalized, more one-on-one attention,” said Yang of Blue Springs, Mo.

Yang bought a white Droid Razr, and her brother John Yang picked up a black one.

Bigger is not always better. Just ask the biggest retailers in the country — and their customers.

The recession and the growth of online shopping have conspired to cut chains down to size. One strategy they’ve employed has been to close underperforming stores. But Best Buy and an increasing number of companies are trying another strategy too — going smaller.

Among the retailers testing smaller concepts are Blockbuster, Ann Taylor, Gap, Kohl’s, Lowe’s and Sports Authority. RadioShack even is trying a “store-within-a-store” format in several OfficeMax stores in California.

Lower square footage makes for lower construction and remodeling costs, and that also tends to make them easier to finance. The smaller locations have less overhead costs and can be manned by fewer employees.

The small size also gives the chains more flexibility in locations, allowing them to squeeze into heavily developed urban centers, and compact spaces in airports, college campuses and strip centers. If the location isn’t successful, the chains can close the sites with less financial fallout.

“For a decade it was ‘build it and they will come,’ ” said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail in New York.

“It’s definitely a correction for retailers as well as restaurants, a direct result of consumers not having as much to spend on the extras. The strategy has to be to reduce your costs to offset less traffic. Usually that means less rent, shrinking retail and restaurants,” Corlett said.

Jeff Green, president of Jeff Green Partners, Phoenix-based real-estate consultants, has long criticized the “bigger is better” movement.

“They think the bigger they are the more exciting they are and that’s not necessarily the case, as Apple has proven,” Green said.

“Consumers like the smaller stores, like to be part of a ‘happening,’ and smaller stores have that feel.”

When retailers like Ann Taylor, Chico’s and the Gap opened larger stores, they didn’t necessarily see an equivalent rise in sales, if any rise at all, that would justify the added expense, Green said.

“Any retailer that is opening larger and larger stores, I question their long-term viability,” Green said. “Costco and Sam’s Club defy that theory. That’s because consumers really perceive them as great values and value trumps the inconvenience of size.”

One of the latest retailers to embrace small stores is Cabela’s. On Feb. 16, the outdoor-equipment and sporting-goods retailer said it would open its first Cabela’s Outpost Store this fall in Union Gap, just south of Yakima; up to three more are planned for next year.

The Outpost stores will be significantly smaller than traditional Cabela’s: about 40,000 square feet compared with, say, the 185,000-square-foot Cabela’s in Lacey, Thurston County.

Cabela’s also has plans to open an 110,000-square-foot store this year at Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip Tribes Indian reservation. And it will target smaller markets — 250,000 people or less with a high concentration of them already Cabela’s customers.

Best Buy introduced its mobile locations in 2007 and there are about 260 nationwide, including the Independence Best Buy Mobile store, which opened in August. Best Buy has about 1,100 full-size stores.

“The customer wants a different shopping experience. We don’t work on commission, and we carry everybody,” said Kyle Cochran, manager of the Independence store, which is tucked between two specialty stores on the lower level of the Independence Center mall.

Still, consumers who have come to know a brand as a “category killer” might be confused by the new concept.

The Wal-Mart Neighborhood Stores are designed to provide shoppers with a quick, convenient stop for fresh produce, dairy items, and pharmacy products at low prices. The grocery stores are about 29,000 square feet compared with a 142,000-square-foot supercenter.

But some grocery store shoppers still expect to see the large selections of products Wal-Mart is known for.

Carolyn Shaw of Shawnee, Kan., was disappointed in the holiday selection at a Wal-Mart Neighborhood store earlier this month during a morning stop in a snowstorm.

“They didn’t have many Valentine’s items,” Shaw said. “Now I’ll have to go back out this afternoon to a bigger Wal-Mart.”

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New Stop & Shop concept store opens in Chelmsford

New Stop & Shop concept store opens in Chelmsford with following convenience options:

An on-site nutritionist: The company has hired a professional nutritionist who will be available for consultations. The cost, according to Robinson, will be $25 an hour, but the customer will get that $25 back in the form of a gift card.

Day care services: Stop & Shop is introducing “The Tree House” – a room where supervised day care is provided for up to 90 minutes for free, for children ages 3 through 9.

Curbside pickup: Customers will be able to order groceries on a computer and pick them up at the store without leaving their cars. They can pull up to a designated curbside pickup area where a Stop & Shop employee will process the payment and load the shopper’s car.

Future Group to build wholesale markets

Agre Developers, a Future Group company, formerly known as Future Mall Management, has struck a deal with Bangalore-based developer the Sattva Group to build a wholesale trading market on the lines of Dubai’s Dragon Mart and China’s Yiwu wholesale market. This is the first of the eight businessto-business (B2B) markets that the company is planning to start across major cities in the course of the next few years. These trading hubs will stock general merchandise, IT peripherals, hardware products along with other commodities typically spread across a 5-10 acre space. The BSE listed-company will also be getting into the infra-logistics and retail infrastructure business. 

Kishore Biyani had merged his real-estate business with Kolkata-based developer Sumit Dabriwala into Agre Developers to strengthen the retail major’s foothold in the realty space. The retail to financial services group runs stores like Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar.
Sumit Dabriwala, MD, Agre Developers, told TOI, that the strategy for the company going forward will be to tie-up with strategic partners to facilitate the opening of these tradings hubs and also to build infra-logistics across the country. Agre Developers will work in tandem with Future Supply Chain, the logistics and supply chain vertical of the group, on the infra-logistics business.
“Even as the demand of logistics in the country expands, supply of good quality logistics infrastructure is extremely low. This is where we will work with Future Supply Chain and also with other logistics companies,” Dabriwala said.
The company will look to plough about Rs 500 crore of equity across the three formats and is evaluating the possibility of inviting strategic partners into each of these businesses. The total outlay on the three business verticals will be around Rs.3500 crore over the next five years, said Dabriwala.
“While the wholesale trading and the infra-logistics business will be in partnership with another entity, the retail infrastructure vertical of the company will be operated independently.
“On the retail infrastructure side, the mandate is to play a bigger role which will start right from spotting the location of the mall to designing the mall, determining the tenant mix, sub-leasing the mall and managing it over the life cycle of the transaction,” Dabriwala pointed out.

New Tune: Nokia rings in retail-distribution model

NOKIA India, betting big on its bouquet of mobile services to win back lost market share, has forayed into a retail distribution model. The Finnish giant has set up 350 shop-inshops inside mobile phone retail stores in top 16 cities from where it plans to distribute and sell services such as applications, music, navigation and email solutions, a senior official at Nokia India said.

This is the first time the world’s largest mobile phone company has initiated a retail distribution model for its services venture. Nokia has plans to scale this up in a big way, especially in the rural areas, once the pilot phase is over in another six months.

“Since PC and broadband penetration is low in India, it is important to build a retail distribution model to take services to the masses,” said Nokia India head (OPM & devices) Jasmeet Gandhi. “This will be a platform which will have immense possibilities and the potential to transform the services business as we can tap our huge dealer network,” he said.

Nokia India is also soon coming with a local billing model for its mobile applications store, Ovi Store. At present, there are around 50,000 applications in the store. “We will also make available the applications store in our services retail point so that consumers can conveniently buy mobile applications there,” said Mr Gandhi.

The retail distribution from Nokia comes at a time when the company has already made a few of its services free in India. It has already made navigation service free and has recently announced free unlimited download of music with select handsets. Nokia feels such a strategy will be vital as more than 80% of Indian consumers already access or download free digital content.

“While free music is currently available in five handsets, we plan to take this to handsets across price bands or at least the top 15 models. This even includes the mass market range which runs on the S40 operating system,” said Mr Gandhi.

Even though its early days for Nokia in the mobile services space, India has already emerged as one of the top markets. India ranks amongst the top three market for music downloads with around one million registered users, next to UK and Italy.

In terms of total downloads from the Ovi Store, India ranks amongst the top three markets and in navigation services, it figures amongst the top ten countries. For push email service, Nokia is clocking more than one lakh activation per month in India, making it amongst the top five markets globally.

Vivacity Mall to host “Shopper’s Stop” and “Hyper City” as its Anchor tenants

Mumbai, June 30, 2010: Vivacity Mall, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sheth Developers, has signed with K Raheja Group— to set up Shoppers Stop; a family store, with value merchandise and Hyper City, the hypermarket chain stores within the upcoming Vivacity Mall at Thane.

Vivacity will be housing, ‘Hyper City’ and ‘Shoppers’ Stop,’ as its anchor tenants. The two format retailers belonging to K Raheja group have leased an area of 85,000 sq.ft and 65, 000 sq ft respectively spread across the ground floor and the first floor. In one of its earlier developments, Sheth developers also announced its tie up with Cinepolis to set up fourteen screen megaplex with a facility to showcase over 70 shows on a single day with a seating capacity of 2,400 people.

Speaking about the 2 large anchors coming on board with Vivacity Mall, Mr.JP.Biswas, VP Leasing & Marketing, Sheth Developers said, “Our tie-up with Shopper’s Stop and Hypercity is in line with our promise of getting top brands in to Vivacity. We look forward to give a world class shopping experience to our customers all under one roof. With all these brands pitching in at Vivacity, we feel our customers will rediscover the way they shop.”

Commenting on its strategic tie-up with Vivacity, Govind Shrikhande, Customer Care Associate & President & CEO, Shopper’s Stop Ltd, said, “We always wanted to have a large Shoppers Stop store in Thane. Vivacity has filled in the gap perfectly for us. In our opinion Vivacity will be a dominant retail property in the Central suburbs. The size and expanse of the mall combined with our ability to pull customers will be key to the success of both Shoppers Stop as well as Vivacity.”

Speaking further on being the anchor tenant of Vivacity, B.S.Nagesh, Customer Care Associate & Vice-Chairman, Hyper City Retail Pvt, Ltd said, “We feel that Thane and its adjacent catchment area has a lot of present potential, and when we take into account the upcoming projects, the outlook becomes one of the brightest in the country. In view of this we have signed up for our second Hypercity in Thane at Vivacity. The strategic location of Vivacity and its ease of access is ideal for a hypermarket.”

Vivacity will be located on the Eastern Express Highway, spread over an area on 1 million sq.ft. Vivacity is first retail venture of the Sheth Developers and happens to be one of the largest malls in the state, with one-of-its kind experience for its consumers. The mall has currently has 37% occupancy by retailers from the country and are hoping for a 100% occupancy by the end of the year. The Mall is slated to open its doors for its consumer in the mid of FY 2011 – 12

About Sheth Developers:

Sheth Developers is one of the trusted Real Estate and Property Company with major presence in Western India and UAE with over 20 years of experience in building large residential and commercial complexes and townships in Mumbai and the suburbs. Sheth Developers is one of the few real estate developers to have won the prestigious awards like Best Interior Design for Iris Bay Dubai, Best High Rise Development for Vasant Lawns Thane; Best Residential Building for BeauMonde , Mumbai and many more. Also, it is one of the few distinguished developers to have won the Best Developer Retail Project (Future) for designing Vivacity Mall, Thane; one of the largest Malls in India. Sheth Developers Pvt Ltd has earned consistent accolades for its notable projects in India and abroad.

About Vivacity

Sheth Developers has extended its real estate presence with its colossal retail development – Vivacity. One of the largest malls in the country with a GLA close to 1 million sq ft, Vivacity is set to raise the bar in the industry. With a team of best in the class professionals on the projects, marketing and leasing fronts, Vivacity will ensure that both the retailers’ and the consumers’ interests are well taken care of.

For further information please visit: www.shethdevelopers.com

Media Contact for Vivacity:

Leon De Souza / Deepshri Iyer

leon@corvoshandwick.co.in / deepshri@corvoshandwick.co.in

+91 9833581376 / +91 9987266410

Retailers Work under one roof by sharing space.

Now Rival Retailers Work under one roof

SHARING SPACE TO EXPAND SPECIALTY CHAINS

THEY are fierce rivals in the marketplace, but big retailers such as Future Group, Reliance Retail, RPG Retail and Aditya Birla Retail now tap each other’s synergies to expand their specialty chains.

So, walk into a ‘Central’ mall of Kishore Biyani’s Future Group and you may well see Reliance TimeOut, the gift-music-book format of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail. Reliance’s optical chain Vision Express shares some premises of Birla group’s ‘More’ hypermarkets, while RPG Retail has rolled out 20 Music World stores inside Future Group’s Big Bazaar outlets.
“Retailers have now realised that they alone cannot manage all categories on their own, how much hard they may try,” says Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy Technopak Advisors.
Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani says it’s a win-win model for both retailers and customers. “The retailers can exploit each other’s synergies in non-competing categories, which ultimately helps the customer get a wider choice from the same store,” he says. “We are open to locate our specialty stores in other’s premises, if such opportunities come up.”
There has been a flurry of deals and expansions in the $20-billion organized retail sector over the last five years since companies such as Reliance, Aditya Birla and Bharti entered the turf and started floating specialty chains on their own or in tieup with foreign players.
“There are obvious opportunities to associate with each other, provided the brand positioning of the stores match,” says Bijou Kurien, president and chief executive
(lifestyle) of Reliance Retail.
He says that this model of co-locating stores could emerge as a way to expand. “We understand each other’s issues like constraints in standalone expansion and profitability.”
The concept of shop-in-shop within largeformat stores such as hypermarkets is selling like hot cakes among garment and other single/limited product retailers because it saves them the cost of operating standalone stores and gives access to a captive consumer base of the large format.
Also, specialty shop-in-shop owners need not worry about associated costs like security, civil engineering and air-conditioning, says Mr Singhal of Technopak.
Retailers say running a shop-in-shop costs at least 25% less than a standalone shop of the same size.
These deals mostly follow a revenue-sharing model, but retailers say there is no standard formula on the percentage of revenue shared. It depends on the customer traffic the large store is able to drawn.
In some cases, there could be sharing of shop-floor employees, sharing of loyalty schemes and payment counters.
“The model of collaborative expansion will drive efficiencies,” says K Dasaratharaman, president (speciality retail) of RPG Retail, which plans to more than double the number of its music-and-movie chain Music World outlets inside Big Bazaar. “We are talking to few others like Aditya Birla Group to expand on this model,” he says.
Shoppers Stop vice-chairman B S Nagesh says the chain will explore this model to expand its book retail chain Crossword. “Distribution has emerged as the key point in the country,” he says.
Reliance Retail
Reliance DIGITAL — Consumer durable & information technology
Reliance TRENDS — Apparel & accessories
Reliance WELLNESS — Health, wellness & beauty
Reliance FOOTPRINT — Footwear
Reliance JEWELS — Jewellery
Reliance TIMEOUT — Books, music & entertainment
Reliance AUTOZONE — Automotive products & services
Reliance LIVING — Homeware, furniture, modular kitchens, furnishings SPECIALTY CHAINS OF BIG RETAILERS
Future Group
PLANET SPORTS — Sports lifestyle NAVARAS — Jewellery aLL — Fashion for plus-sized people DEPOT — Books
RPG Retail
MUSIC WORLD BOOKS & BEYOND
Tata Group
LANDMARK — Books, music, gifts, movie

Retail majors in rightsizing mode

IN A bid to maximise sales per square feet, Indias frontline retailers are increasingly looking at ways to restructure their stores. Leading players like Future Group, Spencers Retail, Shoppers Stop and Vishal Retail plan to rightsize their stores and replace slow-moving categories with speciality formats under the shop-in-shop model.

Retailers feel such an approach will also help them improve gross margin returns per sq ft in the present environment when same store sales growth is quite weak. A shop-inshop approach helps increase revenue per sq ft. It enables best utilisation of space and is a good way to do away with excess space and reduce space for categories which are not doing well, Future Group CEORetail Rakesh Biyani told ET.

Future Group plans to offer a wider choice in large-format stores like Big Bazaar by setting up speciality zones under the shop-in-shop model. This approach provides consumers with a wider choice. We have a similar model for the Pantaloons outlets in the East and may replicate it elsewhere, Mr Biyani said. Shoppers Stop recently tied up with Cafe Coffee Day to manage cafes within its stores. It is an ongoing process to maximise returns, said managing director BS Nagesh. The most common categories where retailers are looking for shop-inshop outlets include food and beverage, saris and areas which have more customerconnect requirement like cosmetics, personal care products, fine jewellery and salons, says Retailers Association of India CEO Kumar Rajagopalan.

Spencers Retail, which is presently rightsizing by cutting down on 20% of its retail space, also plans to focus on shopinshops. In a slowdown, shop-in-shops are the best way to leverage domain knowledge of speciality players and maximise returns. Such outlets will be set up through our groups speciality formats like Books & Beyond, Mera World, Music World as well as in collaboration with other players, Spencers Retail marketing head Samar S Sheikhawat.

Vishal Retail group president Ambeek Khemka said the retailer too is restructuring its 171 stores nationally. We have already completed the exercise for 35-odd stores and the results are encouraging. In fact, small and regional brands are lapping up the opportunity to follow the shop-in-shops model, he said.

Economic Times: Writankar Mukherjee & Sreeradha D Basu, KOLKATA

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