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Mahindra's toy story

Yet another corporate powerhouse has decided to mark its footprint on the Indian retail scene. The $4.5-billion auto major, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), has decided to enter the Indian retail space.

By T.V. Mahalingam        Print Edition: Nov 4, 2007

Yet another corporate powerhouse has decided to mark its footprint on the Indian retail scene. The $4.5-billion auto major, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), has decided to enter the Indian retail space by selling lifestyle products like toys and apparel.

The group currently markets and distributes products like kids apparel and toys of international brands to wholesalers and distributors thorough group company Mahindra Intertrade. Intertrade also markets, imports and exports steel, metals, engineering products etc. “We have been trading products like apparel, toys of companies like Lego, Disney, and Mattel Toys with wholesalers.

Venkatraman
Venkatraman: Natural extension
 

But now we are entering the retail space. It’s nothing but a natural extension of our business,” says K. Venkatraman, Managing Director, Mahindra Retail. He, however, refuses to provide any further information, citing that the venture is still at a nascent stage.

M&M is the fourth large Indian business group to announce a retail venture, after Reliance Industries, the Aditya Birla Group, and Bharti. Unlike the other three, which plan to sell household groceries or farm fresh produce targeting the mass market, Mahindra’s retail offering will be a more specialised one. “Specialty retailing is a huge opportunity. Everything cannot be sold by one hypermarket. In that sense, what Mahindra is doing seems exciting,” says Arvind K. Singhal of Technopak, a retail consulting and research firm.

However, considering that M&M has businesses in real estate, logistics and infrastructure, it is likely that its retail plans may extend to other areas too. For example, M&M’s group company Mahindra ShubhLabh Services Limited (MSSL), which was set up in 2000, exports fruits like grapes and pomegranates to retailers and malls in Europe. That has led to speculation that M&M might actually make a foray into food retailing, which accounts for the lion’s share of the $328 billion Indian retail market.

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