labels: retail, marketing - general
Now, Mumbai up in arms against corporate retailersnews
11 October 2007
Mumbai: Over 15,000 retailers, wholesalers and hawkers congregated at the Azad Maidan in South Mumbai on10 October, in support of anti-retail protests organised by the Vyapaar Rozgaar Suraksha Kriti Samiti.

According to Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, five crore traders across the country risk losing their employment if the government does not heed the protester''s pleas.

Gurnani said that the protesters would allow the government time till 26 January to suitably respond to the protestors, failing which they would call for a nationwide strike.

Protests against organised, neighbourhood format retail stores have been springing up in different parts of the country recently, with Uttar Pradesh and Orissa seeing some of the more violent protests, as well as the exit of Reliance Retail, one of the larger players in the segment.

Various trader organisations have protested the entry of multinationals and big corporate houses into the retail trade, with some like Dharmendra Kumar, director, India FDI Watch, even demanding closure of all corporate bodies in retail, big or small.

According to Kumar, the main targets for the protests are Reliance, Wal-Mart and Bharti, though protests span others such as Spencers and Subhiksha as well.

He says that with Reliance opening over 15 smaller shops in one day, traders feel threatened since it can proliferate localities with corner shop sthat can wipe them out, unlike bigger retail formats like Future Group''s Big Bazaar.

The wholesale Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Navi Mumbai also shut shop at least partially for the day, with wholesalers in attendance at the protest meet as well.

According to Ramnik Chheda, president of the Retail Grams Dealers Federation, retailers have for the first time downed shutters in protest, despite the festive season shopping at its peak, to join the protestors.

According to Chheda, retailers face a direct loss in sales totalling up to 30 per cent, on account of the development of malls.

Vivek Monteiro, secretary, CITU, called for a blanket ban on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, along with zoning restrictions which state stipulate retail outlets over a certain size to be treated as wholesalers. He would also like to see licensing policies introduced that regulate the entry through a joint committee of representatives of government and retailers and / or wholesalers.

The Kerala government has already restricted the entry of retail outlets, with the states of UP, Bihar and Jharkhand witnessing protests as well.

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Now, Mumbai up in arms against corporate retailers