Bombay, Maharashtra, India
|Alma mater||H.R. College|
|Occupation||CEO of future group|
|It Happened in India|
|Net worth||US$1.78 billion (2019)|
Kishore Biyani is an Indian Billionare businessman who is the Founder & CEO of Future Group, one of India's biggest brick-and-mortar retailers. He is also the founder of retail businesses such as Pantaloon Retail and Big Bazaar.
Kishore Biyani comes from a family that has been involved in business since the time of his grandfather, who opened a clothes shop in what was then called Bombay after moving there from the village of Nimbi Jodha in Rajasthan. Growing up in the Malabar Hill area of Mumbai, Biyani attended the city's prestigious H.R. College but thought little of his studies, preferring instead to rely on a gut instinct and observation in business. He has said that "I spent the better part of the day outside college with friends, wandering around new places and understanding and interpreting the real world."
Biyani began working in the family fabric-trading business, Bansi Silk Mills, but became frustrated with the conservative approach adopted there by his father, brothers and cousins. It was around this time, in November 1983, that he married Sangita Rathi and also made his first venture into business on his own account, commissioning the manufacture of some fashionable fabric for sale to garment manufacturers. He progressed to selling his own brand of clothing fabric and then to manufacturing trousers using it, which in turn led to the launch of his Manz Wear garment manufacturing business in 1987. The business, which supplied a few retail outlet, adopted the brand name of Pantaloon and soon expanded into retail itself using a franchise model.
In 1992, Biyani floated 60% of his business on the Indian stock market to raise funds for expansion, store improvements and marketing. He has admitted since that this expansion across the country created logistical problems for the company, especially with regard to managerial oversight of its franchisees. By 1994, the Pantaloon franchise was turning over 9 million rupees but with a smaller profit margin. Biyani looked to converting Pantaloon from being a franchise operation to a direct retailer using the department store model, initially renting and converting a 10,000 square feet (930 m2) property in Kolkata for that purpose. This outlet, which was more than twice the size of any other store in the city, opened in August 1997.
Known for a thrifty approach to running his businesses, with precepts such as modest corporate travel and hospitality arrangements, Biyani has acknowledged the role of luck in his business success at this time, which he says was the coincidence of his ambitious ideas and the growth of an Indian middle-class with disposable income to spend. His success continued with the opening of a series of stores under the Big Bazaar brand name from 2001. These stores were designed deliberately to appear somewhat chaotic, like the traditional bazaars with which his customers were familiar. By 2009, and despite the worldwide economic downturn of 2008, there were over 100 of these stores across the country, serving over two million customers each week, while Pantaloon Retail employed over 30,000 people and had over 12,000,000 square feet (1,100,000 m2) of retail space across 1000 stores in 71 cities. Turnover in 2008 was 47 billion rupees.
Biyani, who has admitted to making "whimsical decisions", had ignored the prevailing opinion of modelling retail businesses on those in the West and had instead concentrated on concepts that were familiar to India. His method of communication with both the media and financiers had been perceived as poor, as were his staff recruitment choices. Considered at first to be an extravagant risk-taker lacking in worthy business connections, and shunned by his peers for all of these reasons, Biyani's success with Big Bazaar had turned him into a revered figure in the Indian retail sector and a magnet for media attention. He was running the largest retailer in the country and was named as retailer of the year by the National Retail Federation, which at one earlier point had refused even to admit him. He was, however, facing a threat from the much larger resources of conglomerates such as Aditya Birla Group and Reliance Industries, both of whom had signalled an intention to move into the retail sector.
In addition to the threat posed by the conglomerates, the 2008 economic downturn affected Biyani's business and his methods. There were postponements in planned expansion and downsizing in some areas. Unlike other Indian retail chains, such as Shoppers Stop, that used a small amount of short-term borrowing and then financed growth through cash generated internally from sales, he had relied heavily on short-term borrowing for expansion and also diversification into numerous retail areas, including book-selling and salons. Pantaloons Retail had a debt-to-equity ratio of 3:1. Business journalist Samar Srivastava said of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 that
The crisis that followed blew a hole in Future group's portfolio. Sales plunged; bankers who until then had queued up at his offices started to call in their loans; mutual funds that had invested in his companies buckled under redemption pressures and decided to get out; sources of foreign capital dried; his market capitalization plunged two-thirds in a matter of six months; and Biyani who had invested way ahead of the cash flows from his network found himself trapped.
Biyani reacted to the crisis with measures such as a considerable reduction in the numbers of his mid-level management staff and a restructuring of his corporate interests. He appointed a cousin, Rakesh Biyani, more methodical and patient than himself, to take over his responsibility for the retail business and in particular to resolve issues with the poor supply chain and internal distribution logistics that had resulted from rapid expansion. He also rolled-over debt, converting it into loans that would mature in three to five years' time, and pulled out of joint venture deals with companies such as Etam. In addition, he reduced the scope, concentrating on four retail formats — fashion, food, home, and general merchandise — rather than the 22 or more with which he had previously been involved. Despite his previous disparagement of the need for the professional advice of others, Biyani turned to McKinsey and Company for assistance and also divested control to senior staff who had been recruited from large businesses such as PepsiCo. Things appeared to be improving after the initial shockwave of 2008.
Nonetheless, by April 2012, Biyani's business empire, including the non-retail elements, was performing less than its competitors and there were concerns raised about its debt levels. He announced that there were plans for a further restructuring of parts of the business to enable it to become debt-free by March 2013. A controlling stake in Pantaloon Retail was acquired by Aditya Birla Nuovo Ltd in May 2012 in a complex deal involving a demerger of the business from the wider group, and there were subsequent further dilutions of Biyani's involvement in the business. In 2016, it was renamed as Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd.
Other business interests
Through the Future Group — to which he has attracted talented senior employees from companies such as ICICI and Reliance Industries – Biyani has taken an interest in business sectors such as insurance and the media. He has had stakes in financial services, such as the Future Capital business, and in agriculture through Future Agrovet, as well as the eZone electronics retailer. The Big Bazaar and Food Bazaar brands, which have been targeted at cost-conscious consumers, were compared to Wal-mart.
- With Dipayan Baishya, Biyani co-authored the book It happened in India: The Story of Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Central and The Great Indian Consumer. As of 2007[update], it was the best-selling business book ever published in India, with sales of over 100,000.
- "#80 Kishore Biyani & family". Forbes.
- Ligaya, Armina (15 October 2009). "The making of India's retail King". The National. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Rai, Saritha (22 January 2009). "The Wal-Mart of India". The Global Post. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Srivastava, Samar (14 September 2010). "Pantaloon's Retail Redo". Forbes.
- Srivastava, Samar. "A Person of the Year: Kishore Biyani". Forbes. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Kamath, Raghavendra (7 April 2012). "Pantaloon's woes: High debt, slow sales". Business Standard. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- D'Souza, Sharleen (16 April 2015). "Future Group's Kishore Biyani looking to offload stake in Pantaloons". The Financial Express. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Layak, Suman (27 May 2012). "Friendly takeover". Business Today. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016.
- "Pantaloons changes its name to Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail". The Economic Times. 12 January 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- Vijayraghavan, Kala (16 August 2010). "How Kishore Biyani hooks India Inc's top talent". The Economic Times. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
- "Retailer Kishore Biyani: 'We Believe in Destroying What We Have Created'". Wharton Business School. 1 November 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2017.