Kishore Biyani: India's Sam Walton And Retail King

The Future Group is one of the biggest names in the Indian business sector. Kishore Biyani, the founder and CEO of Future Group, is widely known as Sam Walton of India. Kishore took the retail industry by storm. The Future Group has over 70 million square feet of retail space in over 90 cities and 60 rural locations all over India.

Initial Struggles And Involvement In Family Business

The current face of the Indian retail industry, Kishore Biyani has thrown his hat in multiple places. He failed as a filmmaker, a dance festival organizer, and a trader. Kishore had to endure without being spoon-fed by his guardians. He had to set up his company on his own. Hailing from a business family, Kishore always had the desire to start his own business. During his childhood and teenage years, he was often seen wandering around new places.

After completing his graduation, he joined Bansi Silk Mills, which traded in fabrics and was his family business. However, he never liked the way the way his family business was run nor the approach followed. He would leave within 2 to 3 hours every day.

The Rise Of Kishore Biyani

Kishore enjoyed the intital success during the early 80s; his entrepreneurial mind realized that some of his friends were wearing “stonewashed” fabric trousers. After musing over the potential business idea, Kishore found a local mill that prepared similar fabric. He sold a few hundred thousand rupees of the material to selected dealers across the city and earned his first profit.

After earning his first profit, he worked with his cousins who were involved in plastic trading business. To his dismay, this didn’t interest him. He was hungry for an avenue to reach out all over India. After some research, he launched WBB: White, Brown, and Blue.

Emergence Of Future Group

Within a short time span, he was selling 30,000 to 40,000 meters of material each month. Post a successful phase of selling fabrics, Kishore started a new garment manufacturing company named 'Manz Wear Private Ltd.', and sold his garments under the brand Pantaloons.

However, setting up a business wasn't easy. Most of his acquaintances had thought his startup wouldn’t survive in the market. Kishore never had his family corporate in his endeavor. Many banks didn't support him as they doubted his business's ability to generate revenue. After initial hiccups, Manz Wear began supplying to a few apparelling outlets, but this didn't appease Kishore. He wanted to do something big.

Later on, he established a chain of stores that sold only Pantaloons' trousers. The first store was inaugurated in Goa in 1991. Kishore invested in the stock market in 1992 to maintain the inflow of money for keeping his venture alive. By 1994, the Pantaloon franchise had turned into a brand that earned around 9 million annually. Pantaloons was present at every corner of the country. But it lacked mobility, which turned out to be a logistical nightmare for Kishore. Without mobility, the managers found it impossible to visit every outlet. Moreover, the franchisees who worked on a commission basis, focused on immediate profits rather than customer service. To fix these mistakes, Kishore began to work on transforming Pantaloons into a large format retail store. He stumbled upon a 10,000 square foot property in Kolkata. This paved the way for the establishment of the first Pantaloons department store in August 1997. After setting up Pantaloons, Kishore set his eyes on bringing his next big project, Big Bazaar on to the circuit. His target was the middle-class. After developing plans for Big Bazaar, the first store was established in Kolkata in 2001. Currently, there are 100+ stores in the country with over 2 million customers visiting them every week.

Kishore Biyani's Fall And Subsequent Comeback

Every noteworthy story has ups and downs, and so did Kishore’s. He invested in the movie circuit by promoting two Bollywood movies, 'Na Tum Jaano Na Hum' and 'Chura Liya Hai Tumne', which were a huge failure at the box office. This was followed by economic decline that severely affected his company very badly. The loss was humongous enough to cause Pantaloons sell a 50.1% stake of its profits to Aditya Birla. Eventually, Kishore’s company made a comeback and soon, his strategy was clear to all. The Future Group is now an empire with several companies working under it.

Achievements

After establishing his company and serving millions of customers worldwide, Kishore has achieved several awards till date, the most prominent ones being:

  • CNBC Awaaz Consumer Awards (2009).
  • Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young (2006).
  • Retail face of the Year” by Images Retail Awards (2005).
  • Most Admired Retailer of the Year (2004).
  • CEO of the Year (2001).

A True Leader And Inspiration

Building a business without any financial backup is never easy, and Kishore did it all by himself. He faced many failures and withstood economic hardships. He was determined to serve the society through his business. The Future Group stood tall and continues to do so amongst its rivals. Kishore had his fingers in several pies, be it trading or investing in Bollywood. He kept trying until fruition was at his feet. Budding entrepreneurs, there may be a tough road ahead, but eventually, you will taste success!

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About Shubham Kumar

Founder @StartupTalky. IIT KGP grad. Learner. Dedicated to the service of the startup Ecosystem. Love meeting people. Let's connect - [email protected]
  • Bangalore
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