Cover Story

  • Moving quickly to improve performance can help retailers recover faster. This recent McKinsey paper, based on the experience of US retail industry, has lessons for organised Indian retailers who are faced with a slowdown in consumer demand, just when they are investing heavily in expansion.
Nov 16, 2008
Editors note From the editor

From the editor

You step into your neighbourhood shop to buy your weekly loaf of bread, say Modern Bread. The shop owner tells you about a new Britannia bread that, he claims, is better and worth trying. He even offers to take back the open pack of the bread if you didn't like it. You decide to try it out.
BT More Stunning golf courses

Stunning golf courses

Golf courses are cropping up all over the world, in India especially. So, when it came to picking the five most stunning courses in the world, it wasn’t easy. From a course spanning six centuries in Scotland to one nestled on the coast of the Pacific, these are the five most stunning to our eyes.

Playboy turns wine Aficionado

The labels should bring life back into the business of quaffing wine. Imagine describing a wine as blonde, blueeyed and busty! Definitely better than evoking the glories of obscure names sommeliers drop.

The last kingdom

In the midst of the Himalayas, South Asia’s last kingdom has withstood the test of time to preserve its stunning natural beauty. Supriya Newar discovers Bhutan.

Form over function

Just because a bike looks fast, doesn’t mean it is. But that’s not to say that looks don’t count.

Hot shots

Now that the wintry winds are blowing, we retire to a pub which oozes irish charm and look at formal wear which will keep you looking hot no matter how much the temperature plummets.

Forging ahead

As jazz continues to evolve, it is increasingly being influenced by master instrumentalists fearless enough to forge a distinct path independent of genres.

A century on wheels

It could only do 70 kmph and had to be driven in reverse when climbing a steep hill, but the Ford T, celebrating its centenary this year, brought about an automotive revolution. In the year of the Nano, we take a look at the world’s first mass produced and ‘affordable’ car.

Just arrivedv

From exquisite bracelets to Ferrari watches to designer glares. Check out what’s hot in the world of luxury this fortnight.

The homemaker

Nothing says more about you than your home, but it’s sometimes difficult to translate your dreams into reality. We caught up with interior designer Vinita Chaitanya to get the ABCD of making your home feel like you.

The dragon slayer

Vijay Singh is said to be the grinder in golf but the word now is that Liang works up as much sweat, if not a couple of ounces more.

Towards a greener green

Golf may be one of the oldest games around, but course design is transforming with every passing decade.

The making of boulder hills

How 192 acres of rugged boulder country in Hyderabad were transformed into a championship golf course.

If cooks could kill

Fugu is a poisonous blowfish that can kill the consumer within hours if cooked wrongly. it is banned in the eu and in Thailand. but in India, it has just arrived on the menu. bt more pays a visit to the first and only licensed fugu chef in the country.

The Bisleri workout

Namita Jain is on a mission to get us working out with household props, even though it feels a bit silly. Anumeha Chaturvedi shows up for her first class.

Road tripping

Classic road trip movies are always about discovering yourself. We take a look at two heartfelt films from West Asia, which reinvent the genre to tell tales of love and redemption in times of war.

A taste of the south

Who says southern cuisine is all about idlis, dosas and sambhar? We take a culinary tour of some of the best southern restaurants in our metros. Anamika Butalia, Tejaswi Shekawat and Anumeha Chaturvedi find out.

Tickled by tequila

It’s not just the ‘lick-shoot-suck’ routine that makes this Mexican drink one of the most intriguing in the world of liqueurs.

Work hard, party harder

It’s not the first book that tells you how to strike a balance between work and play, but it takes a novel approach.

The rum diaries

From toilet soaps to Rum cocktails, Mahesh Madhavan, CEO, Bacardi, found the easy life the hard way.
Columns Space business & India

Space business & India

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) deserves much credit for elevating the public’s interest in space research to a level comparable to that in cricket and the economy.
Features From Hollywood with love (and money)

From Hollywood with love (and money)

America’s biggest studios are shaking and stirring the Indian market with exclusive releases and local co-productions.

Moon dust & hard business

Even before Chandrayaan's launch, while India and the world were worrying over the global financial meltdown, ISRO subsidiary Antrix had crossed a milestone unnoticed and unheralded. It delivered a communications satellite, the W2M, to the Paris-based Eutelstat, a leading telecom operator. Can India beat its cryogenic blues to get into big launches? K.R. Balasubramanyam and N. Madhavan probe the answer.

Fear of flying

Today, with airline ticket prices and the BSE Sensex having switched roles, yesterday's bitter rivals Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways have struck a grand alliance that could also draw in Indigo and Paramount. Will it work? Or work against consumers? Kushan Mitra says that even as the airlines fight off one demon, they are faced with another: a weaker global economy.

Go Stretch, GoAir tells corporate travellers

Decreasing yields, shrinking passenger traffic, high fuel costs… So, what does the Wadia-promoted LCC GoAir do? Launch premium seating on its flights.

Competitors or cartel?

The teaming up of Kingfisher and Jet was the outcome of the extremely difficult times the Indian aviation industry is passing through. But, it raises fears of a monopoly. Has the deal created a cartel that will leave passengers in the lurch? If so, which regulatory body is entitled to look into all the aspects of the deal? We try to answer these questions.

Hurdles on the growth highway

Today, every attempt is being made to conserve cash. As money gets expensive, if not scarce, infrastructure developers may not find it easy to reach financial closure.

Capital challenge

As the proportion of bad loans increases, and losses mount, many smaller banks will have to take a hard look at their lending activity. Are the balance sheets of India’s financial institutions strong enough to keep pace with the frenzied growth in credit, and the risk that comes along with it? Anand Adhikari finds out.

So, what are they thinking?

As capital becomes scarce in the global markets, foreign portfolio investors—the lifeblood running through domestic equities—turn their backs on India. This has got more to do with the stress in the financial system in their own backyard than any fundamental issues with the domestic market. Will they return, or should we be waiting for them at all? Rachna Monga goes into the details.
Special Interview with D. Subbarao/ RBI governor

Interview with D. Subbarao/ RBI governor

“The global crisis has showed us that financial stability is vulnerable”

Are we all Keynesians now?

This is a one-shot Keynesian intervention for a Black Swan event. It is not the beginning of another era of fiscal profligacy in the name of Keynes.

Market opportunities to show the way

Given the global economic slowdown, overcapacities will translate to increasingly competitive market actions by manufacturers, resulting in increasing pressure on margins.

Time to explore, open up new markets

The wave of consolidation, mergers and acquisitions across Corporate America is opening up new markets for IT companies.

The emergence of a new order

An innovative approach towards strengthening domestic consumption can turn India into an engine of economic growth.

Approaching the point of maximum uncertainty

The events of the past few months leave a question mark on India’s medium-term growth prospects and, thus, equity valuations have been shattered.
Money Pick and choose

Pick and choose

Traditional assets, like gold and real estate, have shown mixed trends in the market lately. Is it the right time to invest in them?

How safe is debt?

The liquidity crunch has brought the spotlight back on the safety of debt. But you should be careful about where you park your money.

The hunt for value

The market is hogging the limelight these days and the incessantly falling sensex is creating excellent buying opportunities for investors despite the gut-wrenching uncertainty.
People Plum posting

Plum posting

PMO pointman  Pulok Chatterji, 57, is India’s next Executive Director to the World Bank. The Secretary to the Prime Minister will join the Bank in Washington D.C. for a three-year tenure in February, replacing Dhanendra Kumar.
Leadership Spotlight Unstoppable banker

Unstoppable banker

When Business Today was putting together a feature on best PSU banks for 2006-07 earlier this year, a bank chairman asked which bank was at the top.
Event Signal green but no engine

Signal green but no engine

India’s shift to renewable energy could stall in the absence of clearer policies.
In This Issue Losing steam

Losing steam

Nilgiri Mountain Rail offers an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the Railways needs to act quickly to tap its business potential. Otherwise, this technological wonder will die a natural death. N. Madhavan takes the breathtaking journey on the steepest and longest mountain railway in Asia and a UNESCO heritage site. The journey turns out to be a peep into what bad economic rationale can do to a potential money-spinner.

Working the web

From relying on traditional databases and then graduating to massive online databases, India Inc. is now making the next big shift—online. Today, it is socially networked. Companies have moved on to networking sites in order to reduce recruitment time and save costs. Rahul Sachitanand and Saumya Bhattacharya tell us about this New Age hiring.

Kanjeevarams in a bind

The shimmer of the famed sari has begun to fade for there are few weavers left in Kanchipuram willing to dedicate their time and skills to produce pure contrast saris, known in common parlance as Kanjeevarams, which are considered works of art by themselves. Is this the start of the end for this once lucrative business? N. Varadarajan goes into the details.

India�€™s best marketers

Who are the country’s best marketers? What challenges did they have to overcome? How did they do so? And what was the outcome of their strategies? The fifth such Business Today listing answer all these questions and more.
Book Buffett minus the billions

Buffett minus the billions

Alice Schroeder’s biography of the Oracle of Omaha unveils the human being behind the financial genius, says Dipen Sheth
60 minutes We're building the largest computing facility

We're building the largest computing facility

Richard “Rick” Rashid runs Microsoft Research, the software giant’s crack 850-person unit, and has overseen breakthrough research in the areas of e-commerce, Internet and online products and its ubiquitous Office software. An avid science fiction fan and Star Trek junkie, Rashid met Rahul Sachitanand during his recent trip to Bangalore. Excerpts from an interview:
Trends Adopt Krugman

Adopt Krugman

The Nobel laureate’s trade theory can change India’s business paradigm.

�€œWe�€™re targeting leisure travellers�€?

Founder of the $350-million (Rs 1,715 crore) advertising agency (which he sold off), Madison Avenue, George Fertitta is now tasked with selling an entire city, as CEO of NYC & Company, New York’s tourism promotion organisation.

Instan tip

Do you expect real estate prices to crash by the end of the current financial year?Yes. Shubhada Rao, Chief EconomistYES Bank The global financial crisis will affect real estate prices. We have already started seeing a significant correction across different geographies. Taking into account the correlation between the equity and real estate markets, the correction in the stock markets clearly indicates an imminent correction in the real estate market.

Price no bar!

Handset manufacturers are launching Rs 30,000-plus handsets even as consumer demand weakens.

Numbers of note

20 million: The number of jobs that will disappear globally by the end of 2009 as a result of the impact of the financial crisis, according to the UN

Nokia�€™s new toy

What is it? Nokia’s 5800 XpressMusic Phone.

To be precise

Just wondering...

Slowdown blues hit B-schools

The slowdown and financial services turmoil notwithstanding, management consulting, banking & insurance, FMCG and investment banking are the top placement choices for final year students from premier Bschools. The slowdown, however, has affected placement prospects.

The hungry millions

India has the largest number, 200 million, of hungry people in the world, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2008, published by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Economy watch

FDI will the party last?

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows are more durable compared to other forms of capital inflows. FDI to India picked up dramatically in the last two years, but in now threatened by the global uncertainly.
Policy Watch Calling for attention

Calling for attention

Critical policy issues have been hanging fire as Members of Parliament have staged walkouts more often than debated legislations. Here are a few Bills awaiting their attention.
Treadmill The Abs Initiative

The Abs Initiative

If Abs are the most popular of all vanity muscles the world over, why did it take an aging superstar to show us that Indians can develop chiselled six-packs as well?
Printed Circuit Namaste netbooks!

Namaste netbooks!

Portable computing has never been smaller.
Jobs Nothing remote about this wave

Nothing remote about this wave

Remote infrastructure management outsourcing spurs new jobs.
Deal Watch Deal watch

Deal watch

Every month, we bring you a listing of the biggest deals struck by Indian companies in India and abroad. Our partner: global professional services firm Ernst & Young. Here are the deals that were struck in October 2008.
Letters Time to grow up and learn

Time to grow up and learn

The message in your cover package Crunch Time (BT, November 2) comes out loud and clear. Though financial booms and busts have played themselves out time and again, investors refuse to learn the right lessons and keep looking for alternatives. Their greed takes them to new markets and businesses from which they hope to augment their returns.
Current Politics of slowdown

Politics of slowdown

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal’s very public outburst of emotion on October 16 when he revoked his company’s decision to lay off 1,900 employees was relevant both for what he said and what he did not—or could not.

The great earnings slowdown

India Inc.’s profits engine finally sputters into single-digit territory after 22 rip-roaring quarters of robust double-digit growth. Is this the end of the good times?

Against the tide

MAA Advertising has ambitious expansion plans that will pit it against the big boys of the trade.

Banking on human capital

The RPG Group unveils a major HR initiative aimed at powering its ambitious growth plans.

Bucking the downturn

Microprocessor giant Intel appears well positioned to weather the global economic slowdown.

Broadbasing broadband

WiMAX promises to be the next big thing in driving broadband penetration in India.

A hill station for work and play

Lavasa Corporation has ambitious plans of creating a resort that can also be home to busy executives seeking a work-life balance.

Destination Turkey

Indian tractor manufacturers are driving aggressively into Turkey.
Editorial Nuanced argument RIP

Nuanced argument RIP

The liberalisation of the economy brought with it a fresh wave of thinking—one that was unfettered by historic baggage. That, however, proved to be a flash in the pan as one now risks being branded by ideology, or, rather, by the lack of it.
The BT 50 Index Markets melt down

Markets melt down

Noted Appointed


Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman of Infosys Technologies, as head of an expert panel to review the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) plan to extend a pension package to the private sector. The group is expected to submit its report soon.