The Indian retail landscape bears a striking resemblance, if only metaphorical, to a scene in the shark documentary, Air Jaws , where several great white sharks thrash about while ripping off huge chunks of flesh from a whale carcass. India is that succulent carcass while one of the great whites is Reliance Retail, which is owned by Mukesh Ambani, a hard-charging Indian tycoon who inherited an oil and gas empire two decades ago, leveraging it into monopolising and monetising as many Indians’ wallets and eyeballs as possible. The first part of his grand plan was to start a telecom company. Ambani did that by decimating a diverse and promising telecom landscape of 11 or 12 players into an arid, debt-laden collection of three today, the third being his telecom outfit Jio. The other part of the plan has been transforming Reliance’s existing retail outfit — the largest chain in India with around 10,400 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns — to a sprawl so vast, varied, and digitally interconnected that few entities will stand a chance in taking on Ambani. Except, of course, for Jeff Bezos. There’s also another shark, Walmart-Flipkart, which has deep pockets and a… Read full this story
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