Tata group retail firm Trent Ltd is looking to pursue “accelerated expansion” in the future once its existing stores are back in business after being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the company’s annual report. The company said India continues to be amongst the most attractive retail markets globally with its strong demographics and growing consumption, factors which will continue to play out over medium to long term. “We will continue to pursue our store expansion agenda once we have our existing portfolio back in business. Given both internal as well as external challenges, we did not meet our aspiration for store additions in FY20,” Trent Ltd said in its annual report for 2019-20. However, the company said, “We are committed to resolving the challenges and pursuing accelerated expansion in the future. We also continue to monitor the existing stores and refresh the portfolio through multiple initiatives including absorption/refurbishment of brand diluting stores.” In FY2020, Trent Ltd had over 330 stores across 90-plus cities in India. Bullish on India, Trent said the country “continues to be amongst the most attractive retail markets globally with its strong demographics and growing consumption. These factors shall continue to play out over medium to long term.” Overall, it said, “We are very positive on the underlying case for sustained growth of branded retailing in India over the coming years. The intent going forward is to continue scaling up our presence.” Even as the world is still dealing with COVID-19 that has already resulted in severe economic disruption, the company said, “Our customer value proposition across segments offers compelling product choice in a safe shopping environment together with attractive pricing. We believe this proposition is even more relevant as India reopens to business.” Stating that it has taken significant steps to mitigate risks in this period, the company said it envisages that its “brands will emerge stronger and better placed to leverage the large opportunity that our businesses address”. “We are confident that following this unprecedented pause, our growth and profitability will continue to accelerate on the back of sustained focus on differentiated brands and customer experience across our concepts and strong expansion of the store network in the year ahead,” Trent Ltd said. The company said for its future expansion it will focus on key aspects of brand, supply chain, reach and sustainability. It will focus on bolstering its “portfolio of own brands across concepts” while straddling retail space with unique brands to address multiple customer segments and value positioning and choose brands to anchor on differentiated products, sharp pricing, lifestyle experience and wide reach. While scaling up supply chain to support growing business, the company said it will have “continued emphasis on strong inventory related disciplines across concepts” and sustain “delivery of world class retail availability levels, freshness of offer and effective controls”. In terms of reach, Trent Ltd said its focus will be on store expansion across attractive micro-markets for the key concepts, actively managing store portfolio based on performance and brand experience and continued delivery of highly differentiated and brand enhancing store portfolio with benchmark standards. The company will also pursue a sustainable online business model and digital reach, it added. Trent said its operations have been impacted by the various Covid-19 pandemic related developments. It had temporary closed all stores, offices and warehouses as applicable under the lockdown regulations. However, food stores operated by joint venture/subsidiaries and their offices (to the extent required) and dealing in essentials continued to operate with significant measures to ensure the safety of colleagues, customers and associates. As of date, 70 of the stores have commenced operations in accordance with local regulations and adoption of various safety procedures, it added.
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