By selling his retail empire to Reliance Retail for Rs 24,713 crore, entrepreneur Kishore Biyani has finally ended his stint in the retail world. The entrepreneur has got rid of all key businesses to save himself from bankruptcy. Now, only the FMCG business, the Rs 4,000-odd crore Future Consumer, the integrated fashion sourcing and manufacturing business as well as its joint ventures with Future Generali and NTC Mills remain with him.
A person who never feared to experiment, Biyani has an unending appetite for taking risks. He first landed in trouble in 2008-10, when he ventured into the mall and supply chain business. The misadventure landed him in a debt crisis forcing him to sell Pantaloon Retail to Aditya Birla in 2012. Hoping to turnout his FMCG business into Rs 20,000 crore by 2021, Biyani continued to expand his retail business, opening new formats and also acquiring new businesses. However, all these businesses tanked pushing him to the brink of bankruptcy.
Over-dependence on private brands
After selling his retail business to Reliance, Biyani is now left with Future consumer and apparel sourcing and manufacturing businesses. He was especially passionate about the FMCG business. Apart from his own stores, he was also eyeing the global market. However, his FMCG business hasn't been particularly successful as it over depended on private brands, says a retail expert.
Future Consumer focused on launching more competitively priced products in regions where national brands don't have a presence. Therefore, in a category such as atta, the company’s atta brand, Desi Atta, offers a host of other varieties such as jowar atta, ragi atta and so on. In soaps, the company launched liquid body wash at the price of a regular cake of soap. Though these ideas looked great on paper, there weren't too many takers.
Getting back to roots
Biyani also distributed these brands through Aadhar Wholesale in order to push his own brands. Majority of the company’s sales came from own stores. However, his strategy of carpet bombing failed miserably, says a former Future Group senior executive.
Biyani now aims to go back to his apparel business as both Pantaloon and FBB have been successful ventures. Whether he will able to carve a niche in the FMCG space and give stiff competition to legacy companies such as HUL or Nestle, only time will tell.