India paves way for shops, restaurants, cinemas to stay open 24/7

Jun 29, 2016 0

New Delhi– Emphasising on the adage that the consumer is king, people will soon be able to shop, eat and watch movies at their convenience even at the most odd hours of the day as shops, restaurants and cinemas will be permitted to remain open 24X7.

The Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services) Bill, 2016, to give such establishments the flexibility to operate round the clock was approved by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Wednesday.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

“The motive of the bill was to increase employment opportunities in the country,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters at a press briefing here on Wednesday.

“As malls work all seven days late at night, the small shops which have more than 10 workers will be given the flexibility to decide the timings and the days of work. The interest of the workers in terms of mandatory weekly holiday, number of working hours per day, of course, have to be protected,” Jaitley said.

The model bill allows women to work at odd hours putting an end to discrimination in the matters of recruitment, training, transfer or promotions.

“Women will be allowed to work at night also. So, the employment opportunities for women will increase. But there will be lot of conditions for shelter, ladies toilet, adequate protection and transportation to be provided to them,” the Finance Minister said.

“The bill will now be sent to states and union territories to enable them to modify their individual Acts, if they so desire either by adopting the said bill as it is or after modifying its provisions as per their requirements,” the statement said.

The model bill would bring about uniformity in the legislative provisions, making it easier for all the states to adopt it and thereby ensuring uniform working conditions across the country and facilitate the ease of doing business and generate employment opportunities, it said.

However, the model bill will not cover manufacturing units.

“The bill provides for exemption of highly skilled workers (for example workers employed in IT, biotechnology and research and development division) from daily working hours of 9 hours and weekly working hours of 48 hours subject to maximum 125 over-time hours in a quarter,” it said.

“This bill was finalised after detailed deliberations and discussions with public through internet and with employees and labour representatives, employers’ associations and federations and state governments through tripartite consultative process,” the statement said.

Welcoming the model bill, the industry players said the measure will add thousands of jobs in the sector.

“It is a very progressive move, as it would enable states to choose to keep shops and other such establishments open 24/7 all through the year. This would give substantial boost to employment generation and will also benefit the consumers in terms of more convenience and accessibility,” said A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

“This is a progressive decision that will benefit the service providers as well as the users,” Ajay Kaul, CEO of Jubilant FoodWorks, said.

“For us, the new act opens up greater avenues for reinventing our service offering for customers and catalyse growth,” Kaul said.

“With flexibility available to retailers to open their establishment 24/7, not only thousands of additional skill jobs will be added, but it will also make the retail markets vibrant, giving customers flexibility and convenience to shop anytime,” Krish Iyer, President and CEO of Walmart India, said.

“This will also enable level playing for brands across online as well as offline retail platforms,” Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India, said.

“At Pacific Mall currently shops that close by 9 p.m. can now remain open till about 11 p.m. which will be good for customers who only get a chance to shop after they return home from work or people working late shifts,” Bansal said.

“This is extremely wonderful news and a victory for the NRAI ((National Restaurant Association of India). We have been lobbying hard for the past many years for the freedom of operational timings in restaurants,” Riyaaz Amlani, President of NRAI, said.

“This will translate into growth across sectors such as e-commerce, organised retail, and the overall services industry, including the daily management of these establishments,” Anshuman Magazine, CMD, real estate developer CBRE South Asia, said. (IANS)

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Massimo Dutti debuts in India with first store in New Delhi

May 13, 2016 0

New Delhi–Spanish premium fashion brand Massimo Dutti has made its debut in India with the launch of its first store here.

Massimo Dutti, which was created in 1985 in Spain, opened its newest global concept store at Select Citywalk here. The store was launched on Thursday, a statement said.

The concept of the new store, which houses womenswear, menswear, footwear and accessories, is based on a progressive evolution of the original boutique style.

The change is based primarily on finishes and shapes that aim for warmer, more contemporary spaces and environments.

The opening marked the foray of the Spanish premium brand into the Indian market at the behest of Inditex, the Spanish retail group which owns the brand. Globally, the brand has 755 stores across 73 countries.

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Pan-India e-auction for tea inaugurated

May 10, 2016 0

Kolkata– A pan-India electronic auction system of tea which is expected to increase wider participation of buyers and sellers in the process and to ensure fair price discovery was inaugurated here on Tuesday.

“This effort of pan-India electronic tea auction is quite consistent with the kind of electronic enablement that we are doing across all our institutions. This is going to be a great improvement,” said Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia after inaugurating the system.

“With this effort, the auction is expected to be easier and more transparent. It will ensure greater participation of buyers and sellers so that there is a much better realisation of returns in a simplified format,” she said.

The system which is designed and developed by the Tea Board with consultation with all the stakeholders will enable buyers registered with a single auction centre to participate in the auction process of other centres as well.

Till now, the existing electronic auction process was region- and centre-specific, with restrictive participation of buyers as only those registered at a centre couldd only participate in the auction process of that centre.

There are seven auction centres in India – Kolkata, Guwahati, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, Kochi, Coonoor and Coimbatore where auctions are being conducted through electronic platform provided by Tea Board.

Manual auction tea in India started in 1861 and the region and centre specific electronic auctions commenced in 2009.

About 534 million kgs of tea are sold through e-auction system.

Pan India e-auction process is expected to kick-start in the third week of June this year.

“Introduction of a settlement banking system and routing of entire post auction payments through the auction system via the settlement bank is one of the important features of the pan India e-auction process,” a statement said.

This system will ensure transparency in the process and timely settlement of dues since the bank will act as a settlement agent between all the stakeholders -buyers, brokers, sellers and warehouses, it said.

Tea Board chairman Santosh kumar Sarangi said: “There are certain hesitations relating to settlement mechanism, VAT payment system which will be made by outside buyers. But this is a ongoing process. The board along NSE.IT remains committed to resolving the issues.”

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Amazon’s B2B platform ties up with Patanjali in Karnataka

Apr 19, 2016 0

Bengaluru–, the business-to-business (B2B) platform of e-commerce giant Amazon, on Tuesday announced it has partnered with yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali group to become the wholesaler of its products in Bengaluru and Mangurlu.

“We expect this partnership to benefit retailers in Bengaluru and Mangaluru tremendously. This partnership will immensely benefit Patanjali by helping them reach out to a larger set of retailers,” general manager Kaveesh Chawla said in a statement.

Launched less than a year ago, serves as wholesaler of several products ranging from stationery, housekeeping supplies, kitchen, health, F&B and others to retailers. (IANS)

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Modi launches e-market for farm produce

Apr 14, 2016 0

New Delhi–Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched an e-trading platform for agricultural products, terming it a “turning point” to ensure transparency in buying and selling of farmers’ produce across the country

The Internet-based e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) is aimed at integrating ‘mandis’ to help both farmers and buyers by providing them data of produce available, its quality and the price being offered at the bidding markets.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

“This is a turning point for the agriculture community. The agriculture sector has to be looked at holistically, and it is only then that maximum benefit of the farmer can be ensured,” said Modi, addressing a gathering of farmers at Vigyan Bhawan here on the occasion.

He said that the e-trading platform will help farmers and buyers access a huge market and help them to decide for themselves by providing choices.

“It’s (e-NAM) a very big possibility. This is for the time that the farmers will be able to decide where, when and on what price they want to sell their produce,” Modi said amid cheers from the audience.

Initially 21 mandis from eight states have been linked to the NAM and as he pressed a button, all 21 logged in to the portal.

The government plans to link 200 mandis to the portal within five months and 585 by March 2018.

Modi also emphasised that farmers’ income can be doubled only by applying scientific methods.

Giving example of a child, who would not be benefited if bathed in a bucket of milk but would grow faster if fed in small quantities by a spoon, he said that that flood irrigation was a “thing of past” and new techniques of drip irrigation were to be adopted in the 21st century.

He also urged farmers to get their soil tested and then farm accordingly.

Speaking on the occasion, union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that the government was working hard for the welfare of the farmers and launch of eNAM is a step in this direction.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was a “day of change” that will empower farmers.

Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Mohan Bhai Kundaria and Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha and Agriculture Secretary Shobhana Patnaik were also present on the occasion.

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Online shopping in India to grow by 78 percent in 2016: Assocham

Mar 20, 2016 0

New Delhi– Average online purchases in India are expected to increase by 78 percent this year on the back of attractive deals and aggressive marketing of merchandise, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday.

“Unfazed by slowdown, average online purchases are expected to increase by 78 percent in 2016 from 66 percent in 2015, due to attractive deals and aggressive marketing of ever-expanding range of merchandise from clothes to jewellery, from electronics to books,” said a study by Assocham and international accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

D.S. Rawat (Photo: Financial Express)

D.S. Rawat (Photo: Financial Express)

Around 55 million consumers purchased online in 2015 and the number is expected to grow to 80 million this year with better logistics, broadband and Internet-ready devices, it said.

The report said the growth of e-commerce has been driven by aggressive merchandising and discounting from flash sales and daily deals, more online loyalty programmes and increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets among consumers.

“The smartphone and tablet shoppers will be strong growth drivers. Mobile phones already account for 11 percent of e-commerce sales, and their share will jump to 25 percent by 2017,” it said.

Overall the e-commerce industry, worth $25 billion, has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of about 35-40 percent a year, and is expected to cross the $100 billion mark in five years, it added.

“E-commerce is big business and getting bigger every day. Online shopping has been embraced by Indians with close to 8-10 million adults making a purchase via the Internet in the last year,” said Assocham secretary general D.S.Rawat.

The report also said computer and consumer electronics, along with apparel and accessories, will contribute 40 percent of the total retail e-commerce sales in 2016, from the current level of 35 percent.

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Alibaba keen to enter Indian e-commerce space in 2016

Mar 18, 2016 0

New Delhi– Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is exploring the online marketplace opportunities in India and is keen to enter the country in 2016, its president Michael Evans said here on Friday.

“We have been exploring very carefully the e-commerce opportunity in this country which we think is very exciting on the backdrop of Digital India,” Evans said after meeting Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“We plan to come here and work to serve both customers, consumers and of course small businesses because that is the history and the DNA of Alibaba. We are planning to enter the e-commerce business in India in 2016,” he added.

On his side, Prasad said: “We hope Alibaba will come and have a good footprint in India also including the expanding business of e-commerce, they are exploring the possibility. On my behalf I have said very clearly Alibaba is quite free to come and expand its footprint in India.”

An Alibaba affiliate, Ant Financial Services Group had signed a deal to buy a 25 percent stake in Indian mobile payments and e-commerce platform Paytm owner One97 Communications in 2015.

The same year, Alibaba has also received anti-trust regulator Competition Commission of India’s approval for buying 4.14 percent stake in Snapdeal.

“I told him (Evans) about the exponential growth of e-commerce in India and what was a matter of great assurance that he said he proposes to take care of business online and also offline,” Prasad added.

India’s e-commerce market is likely to touch $38 billion-mark in 2016, a 67 percent surge over the $23 billion it clocked last year, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).

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Jewellers to continue strike, shops in Tamil Nadu open

Mar 18, 2016 0

Ashok Minawala

Chennai–Jewellery shops in Tamil Nadu have started functioning but there is no internal division within the industry and the indefinite strike against excise duty on products will continue till the government heeds their demand, said senior officials of a trade association.

“Except in Tamil Nadu, the trade is on strike in other southern states like Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In south, there are large players,” All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation (GJF) director Ashok Minawala told IANS.

GJF zonal committee member Jayantilal Challani told IANS that the industry in Tamil Nadu is in a different league.

“They are operating in a corporate set up with big showrooms wherethe overheads are high and has to be met,” said Challani, who is also president of the Madras Jewellers and Diamond Merchants Association.

He said the industry in north is strongly againt the central government’s decision to impose excise duty.

The gems and jewellery industry is on indefinite strike since March 2 in protest against the central government’s decision to inpose excise duty.

However both the officials stress that there is no internal division in GJF on the issue of big shops doing business in Tamil Nadu.

Jewellery shops in Tamil Nadu are operating since Thursday afternoon.

According to Minawala, the industry has lost around Rs.20,000 crore of business due to the strike.

“The strike will continue till the government discusses the issue with us and take suitable action. We have made several suggestions on the issue,” he said.

Minawala said the strike will affect the exports and also bigger players with chain of showrooms would start feeling the pinch when the supplies dry out.

Meanwhile the central government on Friday said representatives of the jewellery industry met the revenue secretary and chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs on March 17 to discuss the issue.

According to the government at the meeting, it was clarified that in case of jewellery manufactured on job work basis, the liability to take registration, pay duty and to file return is on the principal manufacturer and not on the job worker.

Further, exemption from excise duty up to the clearance limit of Rs.6 crore is available to a jewellery manufacturer if his aggregate value of domestic clearances is less than Rs.12 crore in the preceding financial year.

Artisans and job-workers are not covered within the ambit of this duty and thus they are not required to take registration, pay duty, file returns and maintain any books of account.

A jewellery manufacturer having turnover less than Rs. 12 crore during the preceding financial year and less than Rs. 6 crore in the current financial year is not required to take registration and file return.

Application for excise registration as well as returns can be filled online.

Directions have been issued to the field formations to provide hassle free registration within two working days. There will be no post registration physical verification of the jeweller’s premises.

There is no requirement of declaring pre-budget stocks. Directions have also been issued barring any visits to the jeweller’s premises.

Jeweller’s private records or his records for state value added tax or for Bureau of Indian Standards (in the case of hallmarked jewellery) would be accepted for all central excise purposes.

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Vegetables’ retail, wholesale price gap over 53 percent

Feb 21, 2016 0

New Delhi–The rate difference between wholesale and retail prices of essential vegetables went up over 53 percent in the three-month period between November 2015 to January 2016, as against 50.4 percent during the same period last year, business chamber Assocham said on Sunday.

“Disparity between wholesale price and retail prices for essential vegetables like brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower went up beyond 53.3 percent during November 2015 to January 2016 which was 50.4 percent as compared to the same period last year, according to a recent Assocham paper,” the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said in a release here.

It said the study shows that the majority of Indian retailers are selling vegetables at prices which are significantly higher than the wholesale price index (WPI) 2016.

“Normally, the difference between wholesale and retail prices on an average stays around 30 percent but it has been much more as seen in the findings of the paper,” Assocham said.

The study has considered nearly 28 market centres in India including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Lasalgaon, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nasik, Patna, Pimpalgaon, Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Shimla, Srinagar and Thiruvananthapuram, and found most recorded huge difference between wholesale and retail prices.

Out of the 28 centres, 11 centres are charging more than all India average retail prices and wholesale prices, the study found. The retail prices are over and above 53.3 percent to the wholesale prices during November 2015 to January 2016, the study showed.

The top centres charging more than 50 percent retail prices than wholesale prices include Hyderabad (132.3 percent) followed by Mumbai (94.7 percent), Ahmedabad (92.5 percent), Amritsar (91.4 percent), Delhi (86.3 percent), Dehradun (84.5 percent), Chandigarh (84.1 percent), Kolkata (74.4 percent), Patna (65 percent) and Ranchi (62.1 percent).

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Ratan Tata invests in retail-tech start-up SnapBizz

Feb 15, 2016 0

New Delhi–Retail technology start-up SnapBizz said on Monday it has raised funding from Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons.

“We are privileged to have Ratan Tata as an investor at SnapBizz. As one of the most respected names in corporate India, he brings a rich legacy of doing business with a human touch,” said a statement issued by the Bangalore-based company, quoting Founder and Chief Executive Officer Prem Kumar.

Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata

The statement did not disclose the amount invested by Ratan Tata.

In January 2016, SnapBizz had announced a Series A funding of $7.2 million led by Jungle Ventures, Taurus Value creation, Konly Venture and Blume Ventures.

“SnapBizz Cloudtech is working towards changing the face of small-scale retail sector in the country and empower kirana (mom-and-pop) stores not only to be competition-ready but to have a competitive edge by making them virtual super markets,” the statement said.

Founded in 2013, SnapBizz Cloudtech has developed a technology platform to connect all stakeholders of the fragmented retail ecosystem in the country, while adding value to individual stakeholders, to reverse marginalization of small and medium-sized businesses and drive digital inclusion in the large consumer goods industry.

SnapBizz currently works with over 1,000 kirana stores across Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore and aims to expand its footprint across other tier I and II cities.

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