The digital commerce and merchant partnerships business of Reliance Industries (RIL) accounted for about 10% of the retail segment revenues in the financial year 2020-2021, according to the company’s annual report.
The rise in e-commerce and online buying has stepped up this share significantly, which was near zero in the preceding year.
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During the course of the year, the retail business omni-enabled its store network, strengthened digital commerce platforms across the business and built capacities for home deliveries. Reliance Retail also invested in acquisitions to strengthen its capabilities in the supply chain, technology, and product portfolio. These include the acquisition of online pharmacy platform Netmeds, furniture and home decor retailer Urban Ladder, and lingerie and intimate wear brand Zivame.
The company also entered into an agreement to acquire the retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing business of Future Group for a consideration of Rs 24,713 crore. This acquisition is awaiting requisite approvals.
In a bid to grow the retail business, financial 2020-2021 was also marked by some significant fundraising by RIL’s subsidiary Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL). The company raised nearly Rs 47,265 crore last year via sale of 10.52% stake to seven marquee investors that include Public Investment Fund (PIF), Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic, Mubadala, GIC, TPG and ADIA. The company said it is actively investing in building a state-of-the-art supply chain infrastructure to link all major sourcing locations through an automated, reliable and scalable warehousing, logistics and last-mile fulfilment ecosystem.
In a letter to the shareholders in the annual report, RIL chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani said, “In our retail business, we expanded our customer outreach by growing physical and digital footprint with store additions, strengthening of supply chain infrastructure and launch of JioMart.”
The retail revenues during the year stood at Rs 1.54 lakh crore, down 5.6% from the previous year, impacted by store closures, significantly lower footfalls which was 65% of last year, and operational disruptions through the year. Ebitda increased 1.5% at Rs 9,842 crore with the business posting its all-time high profit, driven by the gradual rebound of revenue streams, judicious cost management initiatives and boosted by higher investment income.
The company has also seen its retail area increase from 22 million sq ft in 2018-2019 to nearly 34 million sq ft in the financial year ended March 31, 2021. There has been a sharp 25% increase in Reliance Retail’s loyal customer base compared with last year which now stands at 156 million, with over one lakh customers served every hour.
Reliance Retail opened 1,456 new stores during the year, taking the total store count to over 12,700 stores across the country. The company has 263 warehouse and distribution centres. The business generated over 65,000 new jobs during the year.
RIL’s gross debt as on March 31, 2021, stood at Rs 2,51,811 crore while Reliance Retail had a gross debt of Rs 9,030 crore.
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