I had noted that Future Group has positioned its pilot format Big Bazaar Family Centre, opened recently in Sealdah, as a family destination unlike your neighbourhood Big Bazaar. By design it is located next to the court adjacent to Sealdah station, thereby offering good access to the people going to and coming out of the station, also those from the locality and surrounding areas. Great choice of location indeed, since it will attract thousands of people passing through Sealdah station everyday, besides households in surrounding localities in equal measure, who possibly have wished they had a Big Bazaar in vicity.
The first thing I noticed on my trip two Sundays back was that there are ethnically built stalls selling phuchka to biriani at the right hand side, giving the place a 'mela' feel as one walks past the gate. There is an Aminia selling biriani and firni, a Bawarchi (Kolkata's largest roll chain) selling its enormous range of rolls and Metro Dairy selling ice cream. The store is four-storeyed and spacious. The food court called ‘Chowpatty’ at the top floor has offerings in snacks and main course in North Indian, South Indian, Mughlai and Chinese. Attached to it are other outlets like a Monginis, Wow Momo (a momo chain) and, interestingly and wisely placed, a Bengali cuisine outlet called ‘Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor’ (named after the famous song from the Satyajit Ray classic ‘Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen’). The prices in Chowpatty are moderate in most dishes and ‘Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor’ too has got the pricing right- a veg thali comes at Rs 25 and fish thali at Rs 35. I strongly feel the portion sizes are not likely to satisfy an average rice-loving Bengali. But that’s OK, it is a filling meal for an average person for sure. The hypermarket will attract more and more floating customers thanks to Sealdah station and ‘Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor’ will be just the right offering for the rice-loving Bengali walking in during afternoon.
The price range is also pretty down to earth. For an instance Big Bazaar’s two new store labels in shirts have products at Rs 195 and Rs 295. I am not sure whether other Big Bazaars stock this range.
I always advocate a middle class solution in businesses like retail, food and entertainment. The prices vis-à-vis offering should be such that makes strong sense to an average middle class consumer who is highly value-conscious. If this balance can be achieved, the business will have a giant market to cater to.
Pantaloons and Big Bazaar originated from this city and turned into big success stories and cult retail brands giving shape to the Future Group empire. It will be interesting to follow the developments in this 'Big Bazaar Family Centre' format which is entrusted at the headquarters level with Ashni Biyani, daughter of Pantaloons head honcho Kishore Biyani.