To be fair to them, the four gentlemen that we've featured (alright, they're caricatures and not photographs), holding barcode scanners James Bond-style are not in the sort of war that you expect in the corporate world. None of them is trying to wage a battle against any of the others for, say, control of companies or businesses. Yet, these four, along with several other similar players about whom you can read in our cover story , are all giving shape to their ambitious plans to strike it big in the Indian market where the retailing business is expected to grow from $15 billion (Rs 64,500 crore) today to around $110 billion (Rs 4,73,000 crore) by 2014. One of the men featured on the cover is Kishore Biyani , who is not exactly a new player in the retail arena. Yet, more than a decade after Biyani, among others like B.S. Nagesh of Shoppers' Stop and the Tatas of Trent, took the first tentative steps in organised retail, a lot has changed. After experimenting with different formats, all these players as well as the new ones are now more focussed.
What's more, all of them have huge investments lined up and, inevitably, they will fight it out against each other in the not-so-distant future. Take Reliance. Already, it has rolled out 3.5 million square feet of shopping space, and that is probably just the beginning, given the Rs 25,000 crore it has earmarked for its retailing plans. That's serious money, even for Reliance.
Our cover story (Retail wars) details the plans that the biggest players in the business have for that market and takes a look at what they've already put on the ground. As each of them vies for the largest share of the customer's wallet, get ready to witness India's imminent retail battles.
This issue of our special report is on India's fastest growing companies . Readers will recognise this as our annual listing of large, medium and small companies that grew the fastest in 2007. There are quite a few surprise entrants this year. Check them out!
Lamenting or lambasting the government's poor showing in the social sector may have actually become a sort of de rigueur practice but when there are those rare cases where government schemes actually make a difference, they deserve to be highlighted. Senior Correspondent Kapil Bajaj's story on the government's Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JVN) is one such case where thousands of underprivileged children have been helped to escape the misery and hopelessness of poverty. Bajaj tracked down several people whose lives have changed beyond their dreams because of the scheme (Schools of hope).