Competing retail

Published Nov 13, 2013, 4:15 pm IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 5:51 pm IST
Why old and iconic stores need to constantly reinvent themselves

The retail war is hotting up, globally and in India.

Marks & Spencer’s is making a huge effort to dump its frumpy and staid image to compete with its biggest competition Zara. Though fashion houses crib that Zara rips off their designs, youngsters and even stars (Hollywood and Bollywood) are huge fans of the retail store that is considered hip and cool.


Marks wants to focus on making India its largest market outside the UK and in order to do so it will be launching 44 new outlets by 2015 with its Indian partner Reliance.

Like Marks & Spencer’s, which is busy sprucing up its image by signing on supermodels like Rosie Huntington Whitely to design a sexy lingerie line and infusing hipper designs in its stores, city retailers too, like Neeru’s, Meena Bazar etc., are constantly re-inventing themselves to ensure they don’t fall along the wayside.

Neeru’s, from being a small store in Koti, is today a designer brand chain. Meanwhile, the Meena Bazaar outlet in Abids, a favourite with grannies since they were in their 20s, changed its look and approach with the arrival of the big malls.


They launched Mebaz, selling trendy, stylish designer wear for the youth. These stores continue to thrive alongside designer boutiques like Anahita and Elahe.

However, some iconic stores like Nalli Silks, which was once the one-stop destination for wedding shopping, are no longer that popular as their Kanchi silk saris, dhotis etc. are out of sync with today’s youth. One rarely comes across a youngster today who says “I shopped at Nallis for my wedding trouseau.”

Moreover, for traditional wear available at stores like these, the exhibitions at Satya Sai Nigam — the Silk and Cotton expo — are better because they offer great prices and discounts. Nalli Silks, meanwhile, proudly state: “We never give discounts.”


Designs have changed and so have people’s tastes, thus stores that stick to their old-fashioned approach are losing out on customers.

A crockery store owner in Ameerpet says, “Few years ago my store was number one in the city. Today, it’s nowhere in reckoning. We cannot compete with the big chains. I am soon going to shut shop after I exhaust my stock.”

Retail chains like Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle Store’s greatest attraction is their festival offers of great discounts, buy-one-get-one free etc.

Trend setter Neeru’s


Our first store was in King Koti in 1979. In 1997 we revamped the store as Neeru’s brand with interiors. In 2006, we opened another store at Road No 1, Banjara Hills. We offer iPads instead of catalogues and have a great social media presence  - Avinish Kumar, Director, Neeru’s

A focus on Originality

We do a lot of travelling around to be able to bring as much newness as possible. Gone is the old school practice of bringing new prominent collections for winter or summer. We practically have fresh collections every couple of weeks - Cherry Pestonji, Owner, Anahita Stores