Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Retail ramps up acquisitions and partnerships to consolidate its omni-channel retailing. It has completed over 25 acquisitions in the last three years to add to its brand portfolio, products and services and network of physical stores. It has also acquired technology companies to build its omni-channel platform, which includes physical stores, B2B with Kirana stores and e-commerce of JioMart and Ajio.

The group's major acquisitions for retail expansion include Hamleys, Justdial, Milkbasket, Zivame, Portico, Netmeds, Urban Ladder, Dunzo, Shri Kannan Departmental Store, Jaisuryas and Kalanikethan. Recently, it partnered with 7-Eleven, the iconic global retail chain, to start its operations in India. A big deal, which is pending, is the acquisition of Future Group companies for ₹24,700 crore. It has been delayed because of the opposition from e-commerce giant Amazon, which is a stakeholder in one of the promoter companies of Future Retail.

In the fashion and lifestyle space, the company recently acquired a majority stake in Abraham & Thakore, a label known for contemporising the craft traditions of India. Reliance Retail has been consolidating its domestic fashion business with stakes in India's oldest fashion house Ritu Kumar, couture brand Manish Malhotra and Anamika Khanna's AK-OK. It also announced a 60/40 joint venture partnership with Rahul Mishra for a ready-to-wear brand.

Sources in the know say the group intends to build Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, the holding company of retail businesses under Reliance Industries (RIL), as a 'Walmart plus Amazon' company in India. In the last annual general meeting (AGM), Ambani said that the retailer would continue acquiring businesses to expand offerings and experience to customers, sharpen omni-channel capabilities and drive operating efficiencies.

Ambani wants to grow Reliance Retail, which is one of the fastest growing retailers in the world, as one of the top 10 retailers globally. He said at the AGM that the company was on a hyper growth trajectory to grow at least three times in the next 3-5 years. "We will focus on expanding our store footprint multi-fold this year with co-located delivery hubs over the next few years. They will provide a strong network to reach and serve millions of merchants and customers," added Ambani.

The company targets to beef up the sourcing ecosystem by adding more producers, MSMEs, service providers, local and international brand companies. It is also investing in building supply chain infrastructure across the country by linking all major sourcing and consumption locations. The focus is to maximise efficiencies and minimise losses in the supply chain, which includes an automated, modular and scalable warehousing and logistics ecosystem.

"We will further invest in our research, design and product development capabilities," said Ambani. The company is setting up design, research, technology and innovation centres in key areas globally to develop differentiated offerings for its diverse customer groups.

Reliance Retail, which posted a profit of ₹5,481 crore on a revenue of ₹1.57 lakh crore, is the largest and the most profitable retailer in India. It operates 14,412 stores as on December. Its subsidiary Reliance Brands Ltd (RBL) also has a brand portfolio (including the partnerships) comprising Armani Exchange, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Canali, Diesel, Emporio Armani, Gas, Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors, Mothercare, Paul & Shark, Paul Smith, Pottery Barn, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany, Tumi, Valentino and Versace.

Major Deals

  • 72.73% stake in Genesis Colors, which owns fashion label Satya Paul

  • 12.5% stake in Future101 Design Pvt. Ltd of fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore (Rs 9.5 crore)

  • Shri Kannan Departmental Store (Rs 152.5 crore)

  • Mesindus Ventures Private Limited, Grab a Grub Services Private Limited and C-Square Info-Solutions (Rs 228 crore)

  • Shopsense Retail Technologies (Fynd) (Rs 295 crore)

  • Nowfloats Technologies (Rs 141.8 crore)

  • Hamleys (Rs 620 crore)

  • Netmeds (Rs 620 crore)

  • Urban Ladder (Rs 182 crore)

  • Zivame (Not disclosed)

  • Addverb Technologies (Not disclosed)

  • Portico (Not disclosed)

  • Milkbasket (Not disclosed)

  • Justdial (Rs 3497 crore)

  • Ritu Kumar (Not disclosed)

  • Manish Malhotra (Not disclosed)

  • Amante (Not disclosed)

  • Anamika Khanna’s AK-Ok (Not disclosed)

  • Dunzo ($200 million)

  • Addverb Technologies (Rs 982 crores)

  • Jaisuryas (Not disclosed)

  • Kalanikethan – (Not disclosed)

  • 60% stake in Rahul Mishra firm

  • Majority stake in Abraham & Thakore (undisclosed)

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