Retail revolution in Tamil Nadu is set to take a backseat as members of the state's retail body -- Tamil Nadu Retailers Association of Businessmen's Sangams -- has threatened to oppose Reliance Fresh and Wal-Mart from setting up shops at 'whatever cost'.
T Vellayan, president of the association said, "Our last weapon will be taking to the streets and destroying their shops. We will throw them out."
When retail king Saravana set shop in T Nagar in Chennai, half the stainless steel shops of the locality closed down. Local clothes and jewelry shops faced the same fate.
The retailers then fought back and survived Saravana stores but they won't survive Reliance Fresh or Wall-Mart. Both have very deep pockets and unlike Saravana, which has shops only in T Nagar, they will spread their wings all over the country.
Commenting on Subhiksha, Vellayan said it's true that they (Subhiksha) have branches all over India. But they don't have money. They are running at a loss.
Retail giants get 40 per cent discount from the manufacturers in consumer products thanks to their bulk purchase and cash payment. This double pricing will kill the small retailers.
We urged the government to stop the manufacturers from continuing with this double pricing strategy. We met Atal Behari Vajpayee on December 2,1998. We even met M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalitha but all to no avail.
T Vellayan, President, Tamil Nadu Retailers Association of Businessmen's Sangams.
Text: A Ganesh Nadar
Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj