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  • The retailer is talking to individual landlords and has carved out multiple negotiation strategies. Its Big Bazaar outlets are offering a revenue share model to landlords. For the landlords not agreeable to the revenue share formula, Future group is seeking either a rent deferral or a reduced payment option and stores that are completely shut, the retailer has sought a total payment holiday.

    Buying patterns are largely getting dictated by life’s travails under lockdown, major online marketplaces and retail chains say. Denied the comfort of domestic help doing the cleaning, and/or the cook doing lunches and dinners, the relatively better off are buying more labour-saving household devices that get the job done.

    Big Bazaar has scheduled ground duty to all its senior managers and CXOs to ensure the last-mile operation is on and to fill for store staff shortage. Spencer’s Retail and Nature’s Basket have set up a virtual war room where the company’s senior team and store-level staff hold coordination meetings twice every day.

    Such "baseless rumours or messages" have apparently "impacted some of our listed company stocks in the last few days" and it may approach the "regulatory authorities for suitable action thereof", according to a regulatory filing by the group firm Future Retail.

    Amazon owns 3.5% in Future Retail, the Future Group flagship that Reliance Retail is said to be interested in.

    Plenty of second rung stocks topped the returns chart during the week.

    Grofers earlier this month hired about 200 people from apparel exporter Orient Crafts while Amazon is in talks to hire temporary employees from other retailers, industry executives said. Retailers Association of India has even started an online ‘Talent Exchange’ where affected retailers daily list the number of workers that ecommerce companies and grocers can hire either temporarily or regularly.

    Big Bazaar said online or telephonic orders accounted for about 30% of the hypermarket’s sales, even as the bulk of sales continued to be through customers visiting stores even during the lockdown period.

    “It is not even a request – it is an appeal from all tenants to all landlords across the board to collaborate in this unprecedented time to build a partnership to make the retail industry survive,” said Rakesh Biyani, joint MD of Future Group, which operates Big Bazaar and Central department stores.

    According to experts, now online channel has become "inevitable" for the traditional retailers and would have to push this channel further to compete with local kirana shops, which are also now getting smarter by adopting digital technologies during the lockdown period.

    Uber, Domino's Pizza, Rapido, Zypp, Swiggy, Zomato and Scootsy have all ventured into grocery delivery in partnerships with retail chains such as Big Bazaar, Spencer’s Retail and Nature's Basket, and online grocers BigBasket and Grofers that are grappling with a massive shortage of employees due to flight of several migrant workers to their hometowns.

    The ₹4.2 lakh crore restaurant industry, which employs over seven million people, is staring at store closures, job losses, and significant erosion of profits and revenue because of the lockdown and social distancing norms. Force majeure refers to rare and unanticipated events, beyond the control of the concerned party that prevents him from fulfilling a contract.

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