Kishore Biyani, chief of India's second-largest retail group who went public with his vociferous critique of e-com firms accusing them of selling products below cost price, has joined hands with Amazon to sell apparel from Future Group's brand stable through its India marketplace.
This is first part of a 'strategic alliance' to build on synergies in online and offline business.
Under the partnership, Amazon.in will be the exclusive online store for Future Group's owned or licensed fashion brands including Lee Cooper, Converse, Indigo Nation, Scullers and Jealous21. Presently, Future Group has a portfolio of over 40 brands. The group's fashion business is housed under public listed firm Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd.
The partnership will initially focus on the Future Group fashion brands and will subsequently cover all other categories.
Currently other large online sites also sell Future Group's fashion label products. It is not immediately clear if the group would discontinue selling through those sites.
Another interesting part is that the statement says the alliance would ultimately cover all other products of Future Group.
Biyani, whose firm Future Retail runs Big Bazaar hypermarket, also has its own e-com portals FutureBazaar and Ezone, which are seen as another sales channel for the group. It is a bit player in the fast growing e-com space. The group recently also launched the business-to-consumer (B2C) portal for Big Bazaar Direct. With it, the company aims to create an e-commerce enabled direct selling business for its flagship hypermarket Big Bazaar.
These units do not sell apparel as of now; so to begin with the alliance with Amazon does not cannibalise its existing e-com business.
The firm is mum on how the alliance with Amazon will affect the group's existing e-tail operations, as the partnership expands to other products.
We are trying to get more details on the alliance and will update the story as we hear from the management of the two partners.
Amazon will also partner Future Group in promoting the existing and new brands in markets, explore co-branding opportunities and accelerate new product development in categories which are currently not served by retailers, the company said.
Amit Agarwal, vice president and country manager, Amazon India, said: "We are excited to collaborate, leverage each other's unique strengths and serve customers across India. The product portfolio of Future Group, their innate understanding of the Indian consumer mind set and our ability to serve and deliver a convenient, easy, trusted and reliable delivery experience to a nationwide set of customers is a win-win for all."
"Insights into the soul of Indian consumers - how they operate, think, dream and live - help us innovate and create functionally differentiating products and experiences. Partnership with Amazon will enable us to leverage its strengths, investments and innovations in technology to reach out to wider set of consumers across India," said Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group.
Biyani, who runs a string of retail chains in different formats and whose group is the second-largest retailer in the country behind Reliance Retail, had last week come out strongly against the strategy of e-com firms, accusing them of predatory pricing backed with foreign funding.
His comments came after Flipkart said it clocked record sales of $100 million (Rs 610 crore) in just 10 hours of its Big Billion Day sale on October 6.
He had earlier also questioned the rationale behind investors committing billions of dollars to India's e-commerce sector in the recent past and had expressed concerns that eventually e-com firms will buy into brick & mortar companies.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)