Speaking to media, Biyani said Future Group - which operates popular retailing formats like Big Bazaar, FBB, Central and Nilgiris - has seen sales touching almost 60 per cent of the pre-COVID levels and that business has normalised “to a great extent”.
Moreover, stocks in the stores are almost up to 80 per cent of what they were before the pandemic, he added.
Future Group, which had entered into a Rs 24,713-crore deal with billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries to sell its retail business, has also received large orders from Jio Mart that is helping the retail major chart a strong comeback.
“All our stores are now operational and our sales have now touched 50 to 60 per cent (of pre-COVID) levels. Stocks are also now moving to stores. I think we are nearly 70 to 80 per cent from the low, where we were (during the pandemic),” Biyani said.
Future Group companies and the promoters together have a debt of over Rs 20,000 crore.
On the inventory position and stocks, Biyani said: “We are far better than where we were when we started (after lockdown). We have normalised business to a great extent”.
However, it could be a while before the days of packed retail stores return. “We are not getting much crowd because of social distancing and other reasons. It cannot be 100 per cent till everyone is vaccinated, but I think we are getting the rhythm back,” he said.
Last month, CEO of Big Bazaar, Future group hypermarket, Sadashiv Nayak had said the number of visitors in stores is increasing and during the festive season all sections, including the apparels and garments, recorded good sales.
While shoppers may be staying away from the stores, Future Group has embraced the digital route to reach out to customers. Various retail brands under the Future Group have turned to shopping apps, WhatsApp and even phones to receive orders and deliver them to customers. The concept of ‘’pick up at stores’’ has also gained traction.
Like previous years, Future Group is also gearing up for its annual sale event “Sabse Sasta Din” on January 26.
Quick approval of Group’s $3.4 bn deal on the anvil
India’s Future Group expects swift regulatory approval of its $3.4 billion deal to sell its retail assets, its chief executive said, even as its warring business partner Amazon.com Inc intensifies efforts to block the deal.
Future and Amazon are at loggerheads over the Indian group’s August deal with Reliance Industries Ltd. The U.S. giant alleges the deal breached some of its pre-existing contracts with Future.
A New Delhi court in December dismissed Future’s request to restrain Amazon’s repeated attempts to get authorities to stall the deal. But the judge left the fate of the transaction with the regulators.
“The court has already given their view that every institution can take a view” on the sale, Future Group founder and CEO Kishore Biyani told to media in an interview. “So there is no reason why things should be delayed.”
Amazon declined to comment on Biyani’s remarks. Reliance did not respond to a request for comment.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the market regulator that has been reviewing the deal for months, did not respond to a request for comment.