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LifeStyle mulls food retailing venture — Earmarks Rs 60-cr investment

Ratna Bhushan

"The food sector will be the only retailing venture where we will consider entering into joint ventures with synergistic multinational companies."

NEW DELHI, Nov. 29

EVEN as there is speculation about the Tata group's much-talked-about food retailing venture, another retail group is training sights on this sector.

The $600-million retail chain Landmark Group, which runs the LifeStyle chain of fashion and home retailing in India, is mulling a foray into food retailing. "We are considering venturing into food retailing after about two years time. The food sector will be the only retailing venture where we will consider entering into joint ventures with synergistic multinational companies," Mr H. Ramanathan, Director, Landmark Group, said. He, however, declined to divulge names of the companies LifeStyle could possibly tie up with.

Industry estimates suggest that the organised retailing sector is worth about Rs 4,000 crore, of which food retailing is the most buoyant sector.

On the lifestyle and home products front, meanwhile, LifeStyle intends to pump in an additional investment of Rs 60 crore within the next two-three years to facilitate its expansion plans, Mr Ramanathan said. Current investments in the LifeStyle chain stand at Rs 68 crore.

While announcing the retail chain's maiden foray in the Northern region (in Gurgaon), Mr Ramanathan said that the chain was planning to set up seven large-format LifeStyle outlets by fiscal 2004-5.

Existing LifeStyle stores in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore together account for a turnover of Rs 125 crore, and the store in Gurgaon is expected to fetch round Rs 36-40 crore in the first year, Mr Kumar .S, Managing Director, LifeStyle International, said.

LifeStyle has an existing tie-up with Chimayo Chains' Qwiky's coffee shops, which is being extended to all other LifeStyle stores.

While all LifeStyle outlets will be large-format stores, the company is planning small format stores for smaller cities under a different brand name, Mr Ramanathan said. "We are evaluating other formats of retailing for the next phase of expansion," he said.

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