Manmohan Agarwal of BigShoeBazaar is no newcomer to the industry. He was the former CEO of Vishal Retail Ltd, one of India’s biggest supermarket chains with 170 outlets countrywide. However, not everything went well with Vishal Retail which soon had to shut down stores and cut down expansion plans due to a huge debt overhang. Eventually, the company had to file for corporate debt restructuring and got acquired by private equity investors who now run the business.
Having gone through a complete cycle of boom and bust, Agarwal has seen the retail sector in India from close and knows the key factor that can make or mar the business – the backend. He feels that the differentiator for BigShoeBazaar is the backend or the supply chain issues on which the company has a complete handle and it can also manage large scale orders. The online shopping store has recently taken 100,000 sq. ft. for a fulfilment centre in Gurgaon. In fact, the company has now achieved scale to ship an order every 30 minutes. Agarwal, who likes to call Vishal Mega Mart as the true Wal-Mart of India, having expanded to 170 stores countrywide, is of the view that an online retailer in India will take over a physical retailer in less than five years. Dismissing the ongoing argument of e-commerce hype created by private investors, Agarwal argues that valuations, which look expensive now, will look cheap in two-three years from now.