The next big disruption! Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Centro to take on Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop

The launch of Reliance Centro by Reliance Retail is expected to unleash a big battle for the consumer’s wallet in the fashion and lifestyle space. The first store got off the ground in New Delhi’s Vasant Kunj. In the past, the group had created serious disruption in consumer facing businesses such as telecommunications and broadband followed by retail. This foray promises to the next round of intense competition with a limited number of players in fashion and lifestyle thus far. 

A statement from Reliance Retail spoke of Reliance Centro having more than 300 Indian and foreign brands. This will be across categories, among which are apparel, footwear, lingerie, cosmetics, sporting goods, luggage, accessories. The first store is spread over an area of 75,000 square feet with over 20,000 style options. 

Earlier in the year, Reliance took over 200 Big Bazaar outlets, 34 Central stores and 78 Brand Factory outlets, then owned by Future Group promoter, Kishore Biyani. This was after Future defaulted on lease payments. Many Big Bazaar outlets have since been rebranded as Smart Bazaar, with Reliance Centro coming up in place of Central. Reliance Retail already owns brands such as Reliance Fresh, Reliance Smart, JioMart, Reliance Digital, Trends, Reliance Jewels, Ajio, Hamleys and Reliance Brands. 

Industry trackers say the Central name may not have been possible to use since it is registered  with the Future Group. Interestingly, Centro is also the name of a footwear store chain in Hyderabad. 

According to Susil S Dungarwal, Promoter and Chief Mall Mechanic, Beyond Squarefeet, a mall advisory and mall management company, Reliance Centro will be in direct confrontation with the likes of Lifestyle, owned by the Dubai-based Landmark Group and Shoppers Stop, promoted by K Raheja Corp. “This is a market largely dominated by these two players and they have been around for over two decades without any serious competition,” he says. 

On the likely strategy that Reliance will adopt, Dungarwal thinks they will play a “variety game”,where the product offerings will be “substantial” and not one led by price. “Reliance can easily be a disruptor since it has the money and ambition. Besides, with so many retail formats, they are in a position to negotiate hard with the mall owners.”

The conglomerate already has Reliance Trends, which, he explains, has primarily in-house brands. “That way,  there is no overlap.” On the issue of opportunities, Harminder Sahni, Founder & MD, Wazir Advisors, says the headroom for growth in fashion is huge. “India is very attractive for organised retail and we are just at the beginning of a long story.”

Also read: Reliance launches fashion and lifestyle store Reliance Centro; first shop now open in Delhi

Also read: Reliance Retail launches premium fashion-lifestyle store Azorte in Bengaluru