After nearly four years in maintenance mode, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL), which operates supermarkets and hypermarkets under the More brand, is now ready to aggressively expand its food and groceries business, a top company executive said.

The plan is to make the business even bigger than the conglomerate’s near billion dollar (in revenue) apparel business, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd in the coming years, said Pranab Barua, business director (retail and apparel) at Aditya Birla Group.

On the cards is a fundraising exercise to restructure the company’s balance sheet, which had a debt of Rs5,936.21 crore as on 31 March. This could entail taking on a partner or even a possible listing, said Barua. The plans mark a break from the past three-four years when the company largely focused on tweaking its model to get it just right, adding maybe a store or two on average every year.

As part of its renewed focus on food and groceries, in October, the retailer hired Mohit Kampani, a former managing director of Spencer’s Retail Ltd, to head the business. It also plans to increase the contribution from private labels (which are more profitable than other brands) to the revenue from 20% currently to 35-40% in the next three years and is also growing its online business, said Barua. Currently, only 5-8% of the revenue comes from online sales. “If we get to anything above 10-15%, it will be huge,” he added.

http://www.livemint.com/Industry/2m6UGEndYHljnsq5Ka4ozI/Aditya-Birla-Retail-expansion-to-focus-on-food-and-groceries.html

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