It was a big idea conceived over a decade ago. When he launched Big Bazaar with four large metro stores, low-profile businessman Kishore Biyani was catapulted into the limelight. He has since scaled up the brand, part of the Future Group, with a network of 200 mega stores, spread over 10 million square feet in over 90 cities.

Initially, Big Bazaar was a fashion format selling only apparel, cosmetics, accessory and general merchandise. That changed soon, and it saw avenues for growth that would be fuelled by a large number of urbanites with rising disposable incomes.

Big Bazaar was planned to have the look and feel of an Indian mandi - consumers could shop and eat while listening to music in an air-conditioned ambience with hundreds of brands displayed. His current store formats include Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Electronic Bazaar and Furniture Bazaar.

On FDI in multi-brand retail decision, the founder and CEO of Future Group said, “The market is huge, and there is space for everybody. Modern and traditional retail have now co-existed for over a decade and kiranas (small merchants) have not been killed off as feared. They have become even stronger and compete with large stores. FDI in retail is in the interest of the country. Food items are the only contentious issue.”

Big Bazaar’s customer base, estimated by the company at 300 million annually, is from various strata. “Anybody who aspires for a better life is our customer,” says Mr. Biyani. People buy in bulk, and discounts are the big attraction. So is the shopping environment.

The store chain claims to have helped farmers and SMEs create a market and discover the price of their produce. “Their output has grown manifold,” he says.

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