A little over seven years ago (August 1997, to be precise), when Biyani opened his first Pantaloon family store in Kolkata's Gariahat, few retailers could have dreamt that the commerce graduate, who started off with an investment of Rs 7 lakh and capacity of 200 trousers a day, would rise so rapidly. When Biyani talked about his "pan-Indian retailing model", reactions ranged from good-humored incredulity to downright derision. That is, till Biyani proved them wrong. Take the test case of Kolkata. He invested Rs 5 crore in the first Pantaloon store, including a Rs 40-lakh promotional campaign-unheard of for a retailer with just one store. Surprisingly enough, the response was overwhelming. With daily footfalls of over 1,200, it notched up Rs 10 crore in sales in the first year...In quick succession, Biyani opened two other Pantaloon stores, followed by the first Food Bazaar. His transformation from a manufacturer-he'd started off in the family textile trading business-to a retailer had begun.
Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.