Reliance Retail second fastest-growing retailer in the world amid pandemic

News Network
May 9, 2021

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail Ltd has been ranked second fastest-growing retailer in the world in the 2021 ranking of global retail power houses by Deloitte, down from top rank secured the previous years.

It has been ranked 53rd in the list of Global Powers of Retailing, improvement from 56th earlier, according to the Deloitte report.

The list is topped by US giant Walmart Inc, which retains its position as world's top retailer. Amazon.com Inc improved its position to rank second. Costco Wholesale Corporation of US slipped a rank to be placed third followed by Schwarz Group of Germany.

The top 10 has seven US retailers and one from the UK (Tesco PLC at 10th position). Other US retailers in the top 10 include The Kroger Co (ranked 5th), Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc (6th) and CVS Health Corporation (ranked 9th). Germany's Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG and Aldi International Services GmbH & Co. oHG is placed at 8th position.

Reliance Retail is the only Indian entry in the global list of 250 retailers. It features consecutively for the 4th time in the list of Global Powers of Retailing and World's Fastest Retailers.

"Reliance Retail, last year's Fastest 50 leader, dropped to second place. The company recorded YoY growth of 41.8 per cent, driven primarily by a 13.1 per cent increase in the number of stores in its consumer electronics, fashion and lifestyle and grocery retail chains, to 11,784 stores across 7,000+ towns and cities in India at fiscal year end (FY20)," Deoitte said.

E-commerce, it said, is a second growth driver, through both digital commerce (B2C) and B2B.

"The company is partnering with WhatsApp to further accelerate Reliance Retail's digital commerce business on the JioMart platform using WhatsApp and to support small businesses on WhatsApp," it said. "Reliance Retail acquired the 29 stores of Shri Kannan Departmental Store at the end of FY2019, and in August 2020 announced it would acquire Future Group's retail, wholesale and logistics units for $3.4 billion."

When fully approved, the deal will almost double Reliance Retail's store space.

Reliance Retail also made two e-commerce acquisitions in 2020, buying Vitalic Health and its online pharmacy platform Netmeds in August, and a 96 per cent stake in online home decor company UrbanLadder in November.

On global outlook, Deloitte said in the early months of 2021, the world was faced with both promise and peril.

"On the positive side, the distribution of vaccines for Covid-19 was under way, offering the promise that, sometime later in the year, the negative impact of the virus could abate significantly. On the negative side, the virus continued to threaten economic stability, especially in those parts of the world where it was still prevalent and threatened to be a problem elsewhere if new and virulent strains of the virus were spread widely".

Even in places where the outbreak was limited, there was a negative economic impact from social distancing measures to avoid a further outbreak, it said adding the challenge for policymakers was to control the current outbreak, protect those who have been disrupted by it, and speed up the distribution of approved vaccines.

The speed and success of these three imperatives will determine the path of the global economy in the year ahead, it added. 

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News Network
June 6,2021

Thiruvananthapuram, June 6: As many as 93 retired top civil servants from across the country have signed a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against a series of controversial decisions by Lakshadweep's administrator Praful Patel.

The letter from the Constitutional Conduct Group states that they are not affiliated to any political party but believe in neutrality and commitment to the Indian Constitution.

"We write to you today to register our deep concern over disturbing developments taking place in the pristine Union Territory (UT) of Lakshadweep in the name of 'development'."

Taking strong objections to a series of controversial drafts, the signatories have stated, "It is clear that each of these draft regulations is part of a larger agenda that is against the ethos and interests of the islands and islanders," the letter reads, stating that these decisions have been taken without consulting the people of Lakshadweep.

"Each of these measures smacks not of development but of alien and arbitrary policy making, in violation of established practices that respect the environment and society of Lakshadweep. Taken together, the actions and far-reaching proposals of the Administrator, without due consultation with the islanders, constitute an onslaught on the very fabric of Lakshadweep society, economy and landscape as if the islands were just a piece of real estate for tourists and tourism investors from the outside world", the letter further states.

The 93 signatories have sought for the controversial decisions to be withdrawn and a "full-time, people-sensitive, responsive Administrator be appointed, even as some of the draft orders are pending approval before Union Home Ministry.

These objections come days after several people, including those who belong to Lakshadweep took to social media with several online campaigns like #SaveLakshadweep. Elected representatives from Kerala - from the Congress as well as the Left - have been protesting the "unilateral" drafts of the administrator, after Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal raised concerns.

Delegations of parliamentarians from both the parties have been denied permit to enter Lakshadweep. In a sign of Kerala's anger against these developments, a unanimous resolution was passed in the state assembly against the 'reforms'.

On the controversial Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR), the signatories allege, "Claiming that there has been no development in Lakshadweep for the past seventy years, the LDAR reflects a model of land and tourism development which includes resorts, hotels and beachfronts on the 'Maldives model' unmindful of the differences between the two island groups in size, population, number of islands and their spread." They said this constitutes a serious threat to the fragile ecosystem of Lakshadweep.

The group of former civil servants that includes retired IAS, IFS, and IPS officers as well as a former Lakshadweep administrator, claims that another draft, widely known as the Goonda Act, has generated fear that the real purpose of the regulation is to "smother dissent or protests against policies, actions of the Administrator or on any other issue", especially in a territory where, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, crime rates are very low compared to the rest of India.

"Other regulations proposed by the Administrator target food and dietary habits and religious injunctions of the local islanders, 96.5% of whom are Muslims. The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation will, if passed into law, effectively ban the killing of bovine animals and prohibit the consumption, storage, transport or sale of cattle meat in an island environment where there are inherent limits to livestock development. No such prohibitions apply to several states in the North-East and even the state of Kerala next door," the retired bureaucrats write, while raising objections to several other decisions.

Lakshadweep Collector K Asker Ali had held a press conference in the last week of May, backing administrator Praful Patel's draft orders as "much needed reforms for the development of Lakshadweep", hitting out at the online protests as "misleading propaganda".

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News Network
June 5,2021

Bengaluru, June 5: At least 43 of around 35,000 depositors that are struggling to get their hard-earned money back from the Sri Guru Raghavendra Sahakara Bank Niyamitha (SGRSBN) have passed away in last one and half years. 

In January 2020, the Reserve Bank of India, had invoked Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 along with Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, after a scam worth Rs 1,400 crore had come to light. 

According to official sources, at least 43 depositors died since then without getting their money back. While some of them died due to covid-19, some others due to other reasons. 

The RBI had also imposed a withdrawal limit of Rs 35,000 citing the bank’s bad loans. The ceiling was raised to Rs 1 lakh later.

Satish Karanth, a mechanical engineer and resident of Kathriguppe, lost his 56-yearold wife Savithri Karanth in March due to breathing issues. “The bank assured good interest rates. We trusted the bank as it was run by our community people. We invested Rs 1 crore, including my mother’s Rs 20 lakh. Now, she despairs every day over the lost money and I don’t know how to console her,” he said.

Vijay Gururaj, a Nagarbhavi resident, said his mother Gayathri Gururaja had deposited Rs 6 lakh. “She was dependent on the interest money for her medical expenses. She was not happy to take money from us. After her deposit was stuck, she became depressed. On March 18, while heading to a hospital, she met with a road accident and died. She did not find peace in her death but was worried about losing money,” said Vijay, an accountant.

Online protest

Hit by Covid-19, the depositors have called for an online protest. It will be organised on Facebook Live — https:// www.facebook.com/SGRSBNDepositors/ — at 8pm on June 6.

Harish Venkataramaiah, a depositor leading the protest, said there has been no development in the last one-andhalf-year with regard to the money. 

“Initially, the heads promised to revive the bank but later an administrator was appointed by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies in Karnataka but that was also of no use. People who defaulted on their loans have been roaming free and the poor depositors are paying a heavy price for it,” he rued.

The bank’s case of irregularities was handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is yet to file a chargesheet. A police official said the CID had collected data of the victims but later Covid-19 situation slowed down the probe.

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News Network
June 9,2021

Bengaluru, June 9: The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) formed by the State government has recommended a gradual unlocking of activities across Karnataka, as the Covid-battered state gets ready to take small steps towards normalcy after June 14, when the lockdown is scheduled to end.

The committee — which submitted its recommendations to the government on the unlock process on Monday — suggested the chief minister allow shops, malls, hotels to open for four hours initially. But it recommended against opening up places of worship, swimming pools and others till the end of June.

Members also suggested restricting movement of people from high-risk districts to low-risk ones and a ban on elections that involve organising rallies for the entire year. Cautioning against allowing all activities at once, the committee recommended opening up activities on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

The chief minister is expected to discuss these recommendations with his Cabinet colleagues in a day or two.

According to the committee’s report, “Markets shall initially be open for four hours and gradually increased to 10 hours per day.”

The same recommendation has been made for neighbourhood shops, malls and shopping streets. The committee listed activities within a closed environment as a high-risk category and recommended only 50 per cent occupancy in places like pubs, bars and restaurants and closed market areas.

Referring to public gatherings like marriage and functions, the TAC said, “The ceremonies will have only 100 to 200 people maximum with passes till December 2021. A distance of 3.25 sq mtrs has to be maintained between two persons.”

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