Spencer's put off launch of outlet in city

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Kolkata, Jul 4(UNI) Agitation by local hawkers today forced Spencer's, the retail arm of the RPG group, to put off the launch of an outlet in the city for the day.

Hundreds of hawkers, who feared that their livelihood would be affected, gathered in front of the Spencer's outlet at Gariahat in south Kolkata, shouted slogans and prevented RPG group Vice-Chairman Sanjiv Goenka from inaugurating it.

The demonstrators alleged that once the store started functioning, it would rob about 6,000 small time vendors of the area of their livelihood.

An attempt of persuation by the Spencer's authorities proved futile as their hours-long talks with the agitators failed to break the stalemate.

However, Mr Goenka said the incident would not affect the company's expansion plan for Spencer's which had a target of opening 350 outlets in the country, including 20 in West Bengal this fiscal.

'' I do not know why they opposed opening of the store. We do not sell products which they sell on the street. But this will not jeopardise our future plans in India and in West Bengal,'' he said.

Claiming that there was no threat from Spencer's to traditional trade, RPG group later alleged in a statement that the demonstration was orchestrated by 'misinformed parties with vested interests'.

''Organised retail forms only about 3-4 per cent of the total food and grocery retail opportunity in India. This is not a threat to traditional trade. We believe that this is due to the differentiation in the products and services and the product range and assortment we offer to our consumers, which is totally different from what traditional trade offers,'' it said.

At present, Spencer's has 24 outlets.

The outlet which was to be opened today, is the second largest format store in the city with 36,000 sqare feet floor area with an assortment of merchandize, including, food, grocery, electrical, electronics, garments, toys, music, books, home and office essentials, besides a food court.

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