Future Group in talks with Aditya Birla Retail to buy ’More’

Kishore Biyani-led Future Group is in talks with Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL) to acquire the latter’s mega-market brand ‘More’ in a bid to consolidate its dominance in the offline organised retail space.

The Economic Times, which first reported the development, said that the deal is primarily meant for setting up a large network of stores which along with e-commerce platforms can act as multi-channels for sale of food and groceries.

The report quoted two persons aware of the development as saying that the Future Group is exploring possibilities of a probable buyout or even a merger.

A spokesperson for Future Group said the report “is purely a speculation and we officially deny any such developments”. An email query to ABRL didn’t elicit any immediate response.

Future Group, known to be the second biggest brick-and-mortar retailer after billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Retail, had earlier acquired Big Apple, Nilgiri’s and Bharti Retail. Besides, it operates its own hypermarket chain Big Bazaar, supermarket chain Food Bazaar and electronics store eZone, among others.

The company claims to be operating over 700 retail stores in around 200 cities across the country. The group also operates its own online shopping ventures such as Bigbazaardirect.com and futurebazaar.com but has limited presence in India’s overall e-commerce industry.

Biyani, who had accused e-tailers of predatory pricing backed with foreign funding, recently made his first acquisition in the e-commerce space by acquiring Rocket Internet-backed online furniture and home furnishings store FabFurnish.com in an all-cash deal.

Also, earlier this month, the Future Group tied up with mobile payments and e-commerce platform Paytm to tap its customers to shop for Big Bazaar merchandise.

Aditya Birla Group had last year consolidated its branded apparel business under its lifestyle retail firm Pantaloons Fashion and Retail India Ltd and renamed it as Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail, creating India's top branded clothing company by revenue and number of sales outlets.

It has also recently acquired the Indian business of fashion chain Forever 21 from Diana Retail Pvt Ltd, the US-based company’s local franchise partner, for $26 million (Rs 175 crore). 

The company had posted net sales of Rs 6,060 crore in 2015-16. It has been in the red for the past couple of years mainly due to the loss-making Pantaloons business.

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