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Kishore Biyani sees a chance to build an Indian Alibaba

Biyani called Centre's new ecommerce policy a game-changer for offline retail firms.

Updated: Dec 27, 2018, 08.06 AM IST
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MUMBAI|NEW DELHI: Kishore Biyani, founder of India’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer Future Group, said there is finally an opportunity to build an Indian Amazon or Alibaba after the government curbed online marketplaces from selling products by companies in which they hold stakes and banned exclusive marketing arrangements that could influence product prices.

“It’s a game-changer for us. This is not really a policy but more of a clarification and every retailer will have to adhere to it. They can’t build brands now,” said Biyani.

Biyani, who’s never made a secret of his disdain for e-commerce rivals for their predatory pricing, said most online companies will have to contend with being just a marketplace that connects buyers and sellers through technology.

“There was no chance we could have discounted the products like online companies in a profitable manner. It was all driven by capital and balance sheet and not really by skills or business acumen. This will all stop now and many companies, including a lot of online groceries, will have to shut shop,” said Biyani, adding that the earlier policy was level-playing in nature but was misinterpreted. “It is now clear.”

The revised policy will be effective from February and is squarely aimed at protecting the interests of domestic retailers, which have seen consumers move away due to the deep discounting strategy of online companies. “Why should Indians rely on global e-commerce companies? If China can build a successful retail model, why should the Indians be left behind, given the talent in our country?" Biyani asked.

The new policy comes at a time when Amazon is in talks with Future Retail for a minority stake. However, Biyani said the new policy has far-reaching consequences and “several deals could get reversed overnight.” It’s early to comment on potential deals, said Biyani.
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