Mukesh Ambani and Kishore Biyani (Source: BloombergQuint)

How India’s Two Largest Retailers Square Off 

Reliance Retail Ltd. has been widening its lead over Kishore Biyani’s Future Group as they compete in the nation’s $672-billion market.

The privately held subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. is now nearly twice the size of the comparable business—grocery, technology products and apparel—of the Future Group, according to their filings for the year ended March. The Biyani-led conglomerate’s revenue-per-store rose at a slower pace than its larger rival, but it still earns more.

India’s retailers expect to benefit from the push towards formalisation provided by the goods and services tax. Organised retail contributes only 9 percent of the industry, according to Technopak Advisors. The market, a report by Assocham and MRRSIndia.com said, is expected to grow from $672 billion now to $1.1 trillion by 2020. Not surprising then that both Reliance Retail and Future Group plan to expand aggressively.

Here’s a snapshot of India’s two largest retailers head-to-head:

Revenue

Sales of Reliance Retail stood at over Rs 41,000 crore in the year ended March, according to BloombergQuint’s calculations based on its filings. It excludes revenue earned through retailing fuel products and telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.’s outlets.

Sales of comparable retail business of Future Retail Ltd. and Future Lifestyle Ltd. stood at about Rs 22,700 crore during the period.

Revenue Per Store

Reliance Retail was able to scale up its retail operations with average revenue per store rising by 42 percent as compared to flat growth for the Future Group.

Stores

Reliance Retail added 221 stores in the financial year ended March. Nearly 100 of these were for lifestyle chain Trends. It had 3,837 outlets as of March. Future Retail’s store count crossed 1,350 with the acquisition of Hypercity and addition of 131 stores during the period.

Store Size

Reliance Retail added 2 million square feet area and ended the year at close to 15.5 million sq. ft. The Future Group, having added 2.3 million sq. ft., now operates 20.2 million sq. ft. An average Reliance Retail store is 4,040 sq. ft. compared with 14,777 sq. ft. for Future Group.

Margins

Both the retailers managed to squeeze more margins from operations in the last financial year. While Reliance Retail’s EBIT margin expanded by 200 basis points (100 basis points = 1 percentage point), Future Group’s improved by 130 basis points.