Reliance Industries Ltd plans to grow the number of low-cost Reliance Trends fashion stores across India to 2,500 from 557 over the next five years and integrate them with its e-commerce business, two people briefed on the plans said.
The expansion, which has not been reported before, is the latest move by RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani to grab a dominant share of Indian consumer spending in a struggle with rivals, particularly e-commerce giants Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart.
Reliance’s plans to diversify into e-commerce and expand in fashion come on the heels of India’s new e-commerce policy that have dealt at least a temporary blow to Amazon and Flipkart.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in December modified FDI rules for e-commerce, barring online retailers from selling products via vendors in which they have an equity interest, and also from making deals with vendors to sell exclusively on their platforms.
Ambani, Asia’s richest man, founded Reliance Retail Ltd in 2007 to transform his petroleum behemoth into a consumer-facing conglomerate. On 25 February, Mint reported that Ambani is planning to list Reliance Retail.
Targeting 300 cities
Expectations that Ambani will increase bets on retail have been growing, and the latest plan was presented at meetings earlier this year, the people said, citing proposals the company shared with retail advisors.
Reliance Retail did not reply to an email seeking comment.
The expansion plan should allow Reliance Trends, which sells accessories as well as clothing, to rapidly grow its private labels—the retailer’s own brands—the people said.
Reliance Trends would be in 300 cities in five years, from 160 now, said the second person briefed on the plan.―Livemint