Category Archives: Retail

Online stores get more hits

Online stores get more hits
Sohel Parvez

Online shopping is becoming popular in Bangladesh, encouraging new entrants to open e-portals for consumer goods and household essentials.

In the past one year, nearly a dozen online shopping portals or e-trading platforms launched operations, offering products and services from vegetables, clothes, computer accessories to books and travel tickets, said IT sector insiders.

The trend started after Bangladesh Bank cleared ways for payment by debit and credit card in the local currency.

“The extent of visits and deals made through these online portals is rising,” said AKM Fahim Mashroor, chief executive of, a leading online job portal. opened an online trading platform,, six months ago to promote client merchants’ products and services to consumers at discounted prices.

Of the portals that came into operation last year, at least 10 received good responses. Some 5,000-10,000 visitors visit these online platforms on a regular basis, said Mashroor, also the senior vice present of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS).

Thanks to growing internet penetration, shopping portals have received impetus, widening scope for a buyer to purchase goods sitting at home.

An increased use of internet-enabled mobile phones also added vigour to online shopping. Some online stores have already kept provisions to place orders by mobile phone.

Now 50 lakh people use the internet daily and 25 lakh people have a Facebook account in Bangladesh, he said.

Bangladesh’s headway in online retailing coincides at a time when online portals account for a major share of daily retail trade in the developed world.

In China and India, these sites are becoming popular because of the convenience, according to IT sector insiders.

It gives customers scope to buy products at prices lower than the rates quoted in showrooms, Mashroor said. An entrepreneur can offer products at low prices because online platforms save on operational costs like showroom rent.

“So, it is a good platform for small and medium enterprises to market their products,” said Mashroor.

“Our aim is to build a platform to reduce the number of hands in the supply chain by selling producers’ goods directly to consumers,” said Ataur Rahman, director of Future Solution Business (FSB).

The company launched an online portal — — to sell vegetables, fish and handicrafts to people in urban areas earlier this year. is a component of the Amar Desh Amar Gram e-commerce initiative of FSB, which took the step to establish an ICT based network to connect rural producers with consumers in the city and vice versa.

“The prices of vegetables and other products that we offer usually are lower than market prices,” said Rahman, adding that the firm receives orders online and over the phone and they deliver goods home on a weekly basis.

“When we started, we had 20 clients. Now we supply to 50 families in Dhaka,” he said. “Many producers are linked with us through our IT centres at production areas.”

Shameem Ahsan, chief executive of another e-commerce firm, said the company is registering fast growth due to rising demand.

“We offer products that are highly discounted,” he said, adding that already 10,000 people have bought products through since its launch in June last year.

Ahsan said the portal has the option to pay online by card or in cash for home delivery. It also provides discount coupons if clients visit the stores physically.

Some 150 merchants are linked with that promotes clothes, electronic gadgets, mobile phones, travel packages and restaurants.

“We receive many orders from different parts of the country,” he said.

However, some bottlenecks hinder the fast growth of e-commerce. Many banks, fearing fraud, still keep debit and credit cards inactive for online transactions for security reasons.

Mashroor said the central bank should prepare guidelines for banks and other service providers to prevent fraud in online transactions. For companies, there should be scope for insurance against frauds, he said.

At the same, the number of debit or credit card users is also lower than the current internet users, said Mashroor.

Walton announces New Year offer

Walton announces New Year offer
News Report

Walton, a popular brand of R.B. Group of Companies Ltd, country’s leading electrical, electronics and automobile manufacturing and marketing company, has announced a two-month long mega sales festival to gear up the sales of its products.

The mega sales festival titled ‘Walton in Every House Festival 2012 will begin today (Sunday), the first day of the New Year and will continue till February 29..
R.B. Group held a press conference to announce this at Hotel Ruposhi Bangla in the city on Sunday.

Emdadul Haque Sarkar, marketing director of RB Group, Humayon Kabir, director, public relations and media, SM Zahid Hasan, management adviser, Udoy Hakim, senior deputy director (creative and publication), and Enayet Ferdous, media adviser were present at the press conference.

The press conference was informed that on the occasion of the festival the company will give special gift items worth about Tk one crore after every purchase of Walton brand product.

Udoy Hakim read out a written statement at the conference. According to the statement, customers will get a scratch card or gift card in every purchase of Walton brand product and rubbing the cards they will win certain gifts including motorcycle, LCD and LED television, colour television, refrigerators, air-conditioner, DVD player, mobile set, STM net and LED lamp.

Customers who will purchase Walton brand motorcycle will get two gift card in one purchase and those who will buy LCD, LED television, colour television, refrigerators and microwave oven will get one card in every purchase, Udoy Hakim informed the conference.

Replying to a query, Emdadul Haque Sarkar said Walton has introduced a new dimension in the electronics industry. He said that Walton played the biggest role in the industry with 44 per cent investment of the Tk 4500 crore electronics industry.

Production at the third refrigerator factory is going into operation soon and planning of setting up fourth factory is in final stage, Emdadul Haque Sarkar informed.
Humayon Kabir said that the company is planning to increase its refrigerator production capacity mentioning that all refrigerators supplied in the market were sold four days before Eid-ul-Azha, which shows demand for the product in local market rose beyond speculation.

At present the company is manufacturing 10 lakh unit of refrigerators a year. In 2012 the company will manufacture 14 lakh unit of refrigerators, Udoy Hakim said.

Enayet Ferdous said customers will also be able to purchase Walton brand products at cheap rate during the festival. Walton brand products have created huge enthusiasm among the customers as the products are being manufactured locally at its own factory at Chandra in Gazipur considering the demand of local customers, he said.

The offer will be available at Walton pavilion at the Dhaka International Trade Fair 2012, which begins today (Sunday) and every showroom of the brand across the country.

e-payment gateway in the offing

e-payment gateway in the offing
Unb, Dhaka

The central bank has taken an initiative to set up e-payment gateway to expand internet banking and e-commerce in the country, said its chief Atiur Rahman yesterday.

“I hope the e-payment gateway will start functioning in the first quarter of 2013,” Bangladesh Bank governor said.

He spoke while inaugurating the ‘Easy Pay’ system of ICB Islamic Bank under Bangladesh Electronic Fund Transfer Network (BEFTN) in the capital.

He said inter operability among the terminals of automated teller machine and point of sales will be ensured across the country through this e-payment gateway, and it will help expand e-commerce in the country.

“The recent progress in the payment system is part of the central bank’s sincere efforts to ensure the development of the country’s banking sector,” he said.

He said clients now can transfer funds safely and quickly at affordable cost under the BEFTN.

Social business enters restaurant sector

Social business enters restaurant sector

Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus, middle, chairman of Yunus Centre, and Miki Watanabe, right, chief executive officer of Watami Group, shake hands along with Masaharu Okada, left, executive director of Grameen Creative Lab at Kyushu University in Japan, at a deal signing ceremony in Dhaka yesterday. Yunus Centre and Watami Group will set up restaurants in Bangladesh. Photo: Yunus Centre

Star Business Report

Japan’s leading food and beverage brand Watami Group yesterday signed a joint venture agreement with the Yunus Centre to establish a social business in the restaurant sector in Bangladesh.

A number of restaurants would be set up across the country under the joint venture that aims to produce quality food through its outlets.

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, chairman of Yunus Centre, and Miki Watanabe, chief executive officer of Watami Group, signed the agreement at Yunus Centre in Dhaka.

The objective of the social business joint venture is to create jobs, provide healthy food and promote local cuisine and training for food service professionals, said the Nobel laureate.

The social business pioneer also said the restaurants would not be only set up in the capital city, but also in many other cities across the country.

The Japanese company will provide training and management skills to produce quality dishes at affordable prices in order to set up the first restaurant in Bangladesh by 2014, said Watanabe.

He also said the venture could generate about 3,000 jobs. He also showed interest to replicate the social business venture in other markets where his company operates, if its Bangladesh’s venture becomes successful.

The joint venture aims to spread the business in the rural parts of Bangladesh as well and also setting up training schools for young people to become professional chefs for both domestic and international employment. As a social business, neither Watami Group nor Yunus Centre will be receiving any profit from this joint venture.

The Yunus Centre is the global hub for all social businesses around the world, including microcredit, health care services and environment.

Watami Group is the top food and beverage brand in Japan. The company has grown into 600 restaurants in Japan and 30 other outlets overseas in a short span of 25 years.

Revnex to unveil consumer products

Revnex to unveil consumer products
Star Business Report

Revnex (BD) Ltd, a marketing company, plans to launch a new brand early next month to manufacture and sell consumer and basic products, officials said yesterday.

It will introduce pilau rice, pedal-husked rice, nazirshail rice, turmeric, chili, coriander and cumin powder, sugar, salt, natural drinking water, vitamin water, honey, egg white, noodles, biscuits, chocolate and candy under the brand “Tiara”.

All products of the brand will be marketed through traditional marketing as well as network marketing system, said Pintu Biswas, managing director of the company, at a press briefing at La Vinci Hotel in Dhaka.

The company has set up a factory and installed machinery in Gazipur to produce the consumer and basic products with an investment of Tk 200 crore, said Mohammad Jashim, assistant general manager of Revnex.

The company also plans to set up three to four factories to produce more branded products, he added.

Monir Haider Chowdhury, general manager of the company, also spoke.

Brisk sale of refrigerator ahead of Eid

Brisk sale of refrigerator ahead of Eid

Customers at a refrigerator showroom to select their choice of brand as the sale of refrigerators has reached its peak in all showrooms and marketplaces in the city in the advent of holy Eid-ul-Azha.

As the holy Eid-ul-Azha approaches, the sale of refrigerators has reached its peak in all showrooms and marketplaces in the city, reports BSS.

Different companies including Walton Hi-Tech Industries Ltd, a local pioneer in manufacturing refrigerator, have beefed up the item’s sales offering competitive price, price discounts and improved services.

While visiting electronics showrooms, this correspondent found that outlets were buzzing with customers to buy home appliances as per their taste and attitude.

“Our sale has increased 300 per cent during the last few days and the sale will go up further three or four days ahead of Eid,” Amdadul Hoque Sarker, director (marketing) of WALTON, told the news agency.

Sarkar described the period as one of the important seasons of a year from sellers’ point of view and said, “Normally we sell on an average 2,000 units of refrigerator per day while the sales go up to 4000 units during Eid-ul-Azha.”

“We have sold all-time 10,259 units of refrigerator only on October 1 and the sales will boom after two or three more days,” he added.

He said prices of our refrigerator are at the purchasing power of middle-class people unlike foreign products available in the country. As for example, he said, price of a refrigerator is Taka 38,500 while it will cost over Taka 60,000.

Emranul Kabir, executive of sales and marketing of Esquire Electronics, said, “Our sale has increased about 20 per cent, and may go up to 50 per cent in the coming days before Eid.”

“We usually sell double refrigerator during the month before Eid-ul-Azha compared to other months,” said Nasiruzzaman (Nasir), Manager of AB Electronics.

It is a common phenomenon that ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, consumers buy refrigerator, television, blender, rice cooker, and microwave woven to ease their living, said the industry people.

Low-priced Chinese mobiles take on known brands

Low-priced Chinese mobiles take on known brands

Mobile phone sets of different brands are on display at a shop at Bashundhara City in Dhaka. The photo was taken on Monday. — New Age photo

Shakhawat Hossaim

Sales of low-priced Chinese origin mobiles marked a high growth in recent times in Bangladesh challenging the domination of leading global mobile brands, experts and traders said.

Brand giants such as Nokia, Samsumg, LG, Siemens, Sagem and Sony Eriksson which dominated the market even two years ago are now facing challenges these days from lesser known brands such as Symphony, Maximus, Sprint, Digital and I-Max.

‘Most of such non-brand Chinese sets account for about 60 per cent of the monthly sales volume,’ the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Businessmens’ Association president, Nizam Uddin Ziku, said.

He told New Age customers, especially low-end users, were showing less interest in known brands which sell for double the prices of Chinese origin sets but have less features.

Users also feel comfortable as importers give a year’s warranty for such Chinese sets, said an official of the Siemens Bangladesh, which started marketing Maximus two years ago.

On an average at least a million new mobiles are sold in Bangladesh every month as the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission statistics show the number of new connections increased to 53.83 million till January from 50.51 million in November 2009.

Market operators have said traders have sold mobiles worth Tk 300 crore each month in the recent past.

They said official dealers had almost stopped selling brands such as Motorola, Siemens, Sagem and Sony Eriksson in the local market.

Many of them have rather started marketing low-priced Chinese origin sets to stay competitive against market leaders Nokia and Samsung, they said.

Rageebul Kabir, managing director of the CMPL Nokia, a major distributor of Nokia brand in Bangladesh, said in July 2009 that import of a large quantity of non-brand Chinese mobile had posed worries for traders of mobiles of reputed brands.

There are around 300 mobile importers in Bangladesh, according to statistics available with the telecoms regulatory commission. But only 30 to 40 businessmen are active. Almost all mobile imports are from China.

The mobile phone businessmen’s association president said, ‘All mobiles come from China but we supply sets for low prices.’

Superstores eye boom time ahead

Superstores eye boom time ahead
Over 600 chain retail outlets expected in few years

Monira Munni

Superstores are set to boom in the country as the current market players are planning to open several hundred more outlets in the next few years to cope with the rising demand from the consumers.

With a strong 15-20 per cent annual sales growth, about 30 companies with more than 200 outlets have already made foray into the industry since Rahimafrooz, one of the largest business groups in Bangladesh, introduced Agora, a chain superstore, in the capital a decade ago.

The annual turnover of the superstores now stands at around Tk 15.0 billion (1500 crore), according to Bangladesh Supermarket Owners Association (BSOA).

Hassle-free shopping environment, hygienic commodities, fresh vegetables, meat and fish at the supermarkets are earning appreciation of the customers, market operators said.

The supermarket biggies have attempted the massive expansion drive to attract the shoppers, who still depend on unplanned wet markets to buy their daily essentials.

They say that a rise in organised retailing would offer the consumers hygienic foods at competitive prices, compared to those offered by retailers in the kitchen markets, where commodities are sold mostly in unhygienic condition.

The rise in the number of supermarkets, according to analysts, will diversify the choices of consumers and boost their spending, so much needed for economic growth, while the wet markets will also improve quality and services following in the footsteps of supermarkets.

But a decade ago, the retail-level trade was in the hands of thousands of small traders in the wet markets and the grocery shops in cities and remained out of the focus of the big business houses.

The landscape began to change in 2000 when Rahimafrooz Superstores, operating Agora, moved in to seize a slice of the retailing and wholesale trade, which has been growing at 6 per cent, on an average, annually.

In the past decade, many small and big supermarkets made debut, successfully attracting middle and upper middle class consumers, a section of whom are gradually turning to chain stores from the wet or kitchen markets, superstore operators say.

Dhaka-based Agora now runs four outlets, Meena Bazar nine including seven in Dhaka, PQS five, Prince Bazar two, Nandan five and Swapno 70 including 30 outside the capital. Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) also runs 11 stores in the capital.

According to operators, more than 600 chain retail outlets are expected to be set up in the next five years in an attempt to attract more customers.

“It is a good sign. Expansion of outlets will boost consumer’s confidence and help create a market for manufacturers,” Niaz Rahim, president of BSOA, told the FE.

He said once the supermarket culture is established, the commodity prices also will stabilise.

The supermarket culture is playing a vital role in generating employment, with a single store providing jobs to around 50 people, said Mr Rahim. “The massive expansion plan by various market players will open the door for more employment opportunities.”

Due to massive expansion of superstores, farmers will no more be needed to turn to the multi-level intermediation as they will directly contact the chain stores operators. “As a result, they will no more be cheated,” Zakir Hossain, general secretary of BSOA, told the FE.

Mr Hossain lamented that they did not get the required assistance from the government, although they were paying taxes. “It requires Tk 60-70 million to open a small-size store,” he added.

As planned, Agora will open about 80 outlets across the country in the next five years, Mr Rahim, also managing director of Rahimafrooz Superstores, said.

“Fresh vegetables directly collected from the farmers are one of the key reasons behind the increasing popularity of the stores in Dhaka,” Mokhlesur Rahman of Agora, told the FE.

On the growth of the business, he said, “We’ve been trying to ensure customers’ satisfaction from the very beginning. And our quality products also attract the customers.”

With many more such stores springing up at important locations in Dhaka and other major cities, Agora is endeavouring to fulfill the everyday shopping needs of the urbanites through fair price, right assortment and best quality, Mokhlesur Rahman added.

In order to ensure an uninterrupted supply of products, Agora has developed a sourcing channel to collect fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers, he said.

“It’s a business to connect consumers to better products and prices, and create a market for local manufacturers,” Ferdous Khan Noman, assistant manager (Purchase) of Meena Bazar, said.

“We are going to set up about 60 more superstores in the next four to five years across the country,” he said, adding Meena Bazar has already two stores in Chittagong and Khulna.

“We feel the customers are ready because of changes in their lifestyle, preferences and needs. We want to offer a neighbourhood experience to the consumers by opening more outlets,” said a senior official of ACI Ltd, which operates Swapno.

With the recent opening of a total of 70 branches, ACI has diversified the retailing business. Now it plans to open about 500 stores in the country in the next five years.

Mamunur Rashid, marketing manager of PQS, said they are planning to spread the mega-shop business by opening three more stores this year and another 10 in the next two or three years.

The departmental stores with the main focus on food items — ranging from a wide variety of fish, meat, vegetables to fruits, bakery, dairy and grocery items- also offer a vast array of other household, personal care and miscellaneous products.

Consumers can buy as much as nearly 20,000 products of different kinds from such a store, the operators boast.

Supermarkets have successfully made a breakthrough in the urban lifestyle with the idea of “all essential commodities under one roof.” In the early days of the business, around 500 customers would visit a supermarket outlet daily. Now some 5,000 customers come to a store everyday, they say.

“I shop here because it gives a relaxing shopping experience, which traditional kitchen markets fail to offer,” Farzana, a customer at Agora’s Maghbazar outlet, told the FE.

Besides, every commodity is available in this mega-shop, she added.

“The supermarkets offer good services to working people who really find little time for shopping,” Shelley, a school-teacher, a regular customer of Meena Bazar, said.

Mecca-Cola to hit market next June

Mecca-Cola to hit market next June
Muktadir Rashid

Mecca-Cola, a cola-flavoured carbonated beverage, will hit Bangladesh’s market by June 2010, a top official of the product’s bottling company for South Asia said on Monday.

The flagship product of the Mecca Cola World Company, it is marketed as an alternative to US brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola to pro-Muslim consumers.

HRC Family of Industries chairman and chief executive officer Sayeed Hossain Chowdhury, also the top official of the bottling company, told New Age that they had already done all official works and the production was under process.

‘We’ve initially gotten the bottling approval for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,’ Sayeed Hossain said, adding, ‘Mecca-Cola was launched in France, in November 2002.’

Mecca-Cola is now sold in some parts of the Arab World as well as in certain regions of Europe. It has also been bought and consumed in certain parts of the United States, Britain, India and Canada.

Although the product was created in France, the company is currently based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Online shop launched

Online shop launched
Star Business Report

A new e-commerce site — — was launched yesterday for internet-based shoppers.

The site also plans to offer services to small and medium enterprises.

The online market will initially settle the buyer-seller transactions through banks and courier companies. Later, customers will be able to shop through online payment system when the national e-commerce settlement gateway will be set up.

More than 3,000 items of 50 sellers are available at the site now. The items include books, cars and motor parts, computers and accessories, and real estate. and are two other e-commerce sites in Bangladesh.

Shamsuddin Ahmed, chairman, and Majbah Ahmed, chief executive officer of the company, were present at the launch.

Netbook PCs make major inroads in local IT market

Netbook PCs make major inroads in local IT market
Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan

Ultra portable subnotebooks or netbooks are rapidly gaining popularity in the country’s vibrant PC market as evident from the latest bout of the annual ICT fair currently being held in the city.

Despite lacking some basic features like a built in optical drive, these petite cousins of more familiar notebook PCs are drawing significant attention in this year’s BCS ICT World 2009; owing to their lower than conventional size and price.

Beginning from Tuesday last, the 16th edition of the flagship event of the country’s ICT world ends today (Saturday) at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center of the capital.

“A typical netbook- no matter of what brand, usually weighs less than a kg- which is almost half in mass than the lighter ranges of notebooks, while their screen size hardly cross the 10 inch mark”, explains an exhibitor at the fair.

Equally attractive are the price ranges of these ultra portable laptops; which, thanks to fair discounts, has been found to be as low as Tk. 23,500 for some brands.

Netbooks first came to fore in the local market back in 2008; when the Taiwanese high-tech giant duo Acer and Asus brought their groundbreaking Acer Aspire One and Asus EEE PC in the Dhaka outlets followed by their successful launch in international scene.

Other big names in the PC market followed soon and by the beginning of 2009, almost every laptop brand available in the market had their own version of netbooks to offer.

Never before however, these ultraportable subnotebooks have featured so numerously at any big event of ICT in Bangladesh; industry insiders said, which is a significant promotional boost for these emerging segments of PC market.

“I found these netbooks quite smart”, said a visitor after experimenting with one of them for a while, “these machines are so lightweight and handy”, while admitting that he has to get himself used to it before buying a PC without any optical drive.

From the more pricey brands like Apple or Sony Vaio and more popular HP, Dell, Toshiba or Lenovo to emerging names like BenQ, every brand have displayed at least one or two models of netbooks in their stalls. The typical price of these laptops is ranged between Tk. 35000 to Tk. 24000.

“Netbooks can be possibly a big deal in Bangladeshi market”, admits an industry insider, “they may not grab any bulk market share but even then, their cheaper price range is well suited with the emerging markets”. He added.

Apart from netbooks, another major attraction of this year’s fair was Qubee. Weeks after the formal launching of this high speed Internet service in the country, this WiMax provider has unveiled a revamped and less expensive price package for its service on the eve of the fair while offering the visitors free ride to the WiMax experience.

Like any other year, major dealers in the PC market have introduced a range of new models of various brands. These include Acer Aspire 4736Z and 4810Z, Lenovo G450 29492KQ and 294955Q, Intel i5-750 and i7-860 processors as well as Toshiba TECRA M10-P463.

Prices of notebooks can be as much varied as the number of brands and models, so that they range from Tk. 36000 to as high as Tk. 155,000. But an average laptop usually is priced between Tk. 50,000.00 to Tk. 70,000.00.

A number of stalls have been dedicated to selling locally produced multimedia CDs- which offers a wide variety of cartoons and educational software targeted at young children.

A range of computer accessories and digital equipments like USB flash drive, portable hard drive, memory module, flash card, digital multimedia player and photo frame also featured prominently in this year’s fair.

Bangladesh apparel gets flagship store in Paris

Bangladesh apparel gets flagship store in Paris

An employee is pictured in the Uniqlo giant flagship store which opened Thursday near the Garnier Opera house. — AFP photo

An employee is pictured in the Uniqlo giant flagship store which opened Thursday near the Garnier Opera house. — AFP photo

Business Desk

Bangladesh clothes get stronger ground in the world’s fashion capital Paris with the opening of the flagship store of the leading Asian apparel retailer Uniqlo.

Uniqlo, known for high-quality basics such as affordable cashmeres with quintessentially Japanese craftsmanship, manufactures its clothes mostly in Asia, in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

According to an AFP report, Uniqlo, a sister concern of the Japanese company Fast Retailer, has opened its flagship store in the heart of Paris on Thursday and announced that it will open 10 more stores there to have enough strength to compete with other brand retailers like Gap, H&M and Zara.

Tadashi Yanai, the billionaire president of Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, told the news agency that he aimed to open ‘five to 10 big shops’ in Paris, where he had originally planned to launch as far back as 2007 or 2008 ‘but it takes a long time to get authorisation.’

The cheap chic brand popular with designer-conscious Japanese youth currently has a store in an office district on the fringes of the capital, and Yanai set no date for the opening of new stores.

But the new Uniqlo flagship is strategically located near the Garnier Opera house in the centre of a busy tourist and shopping district that is also home to large French department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

Similar stores have already opened in New York and London. The next high-profile launch is Moscow in spring 2010. There are currently 875 Uniqlo stores worldwide, 761 of them in Japan.

No cost seemed to be spared in the run-up to the Paris launch, with ads on city buses and the underground and even Paris bakers selling the traditional baguette in paper bags announcing the ‘Tokyo to Paris’ launch.

Referring to its European competitors H & M from Sweden and and Zara from Spain, whose lines sell like hot cakes and whose stores too are close to the new 2,000-square-metre (-yard) shop, Yanai said ‘I think there is a lot of room’ for Uniqlo to muscle into the market.

‘H & M and Zara just sell fashion. We are different, we are offering high quality clothing,’ added Yanai, who according to Forbes magazine is Japan’s richest man.

‘Our philosophy,’ he said, is that ‘a shirt, jacket or sweater are just spare parts which an individual combines to express their personality. That is why we seek to sell very basic but very high quality clothes.’

He added: ‘It is up to us to offer products that are sufficiently attractive to seduce customers,’ citing high-tech items such as clothes made of a fine fabric that gives off heat or a feather-light coat weighing 270 grams (about 10 ounces).

For the Paris launch, customers are being offered cashmeres at less than 40 euros and men’s jeans under 10 euros.

‘We are the only company in the world able to offer products of this quality at low cost,’ Yanai said.

Computer becomes hot Eid item at Barisal : More pleasure than buying clothes

Computer becomes hot Eid item at Barisal : More pleasure than buying clothes

BSS, Barisal

Computer has become the hot item of an Eid-shopping item in Barisal markets as teenage and young buyers are finding more pleasure in use of internet than buying new clothes- traditionally seen during the Eid festival. The city’s nine poplar computer shops remain overcrowded with young and teenage buyers from morning to night every day.

They search latest versions of computers, different accessories, new game software and also internet connectivity everyday , which is yet to be upgraded in the country’s southern region.

“My cousin is living in Dhaka city and uses internet since long and doing a lot of things with his computer. In fact, computer is not just a tool for use. Something more even a pleasure than that we find in buying any clothes,” Farhan Ahm-ed, a student of class nine of BM school said.

He said that his four other friends also are getting computers as Eid-gifts from their nears and dear ones. “This has encouraged me to buy computer instead of new clothes on the occasion of the holy Eid- ul- Fitr,” he said. Young and teenagers from both rural and urban areas are coming to computer shops along with their parents. Some of them are repairing their existing devices and pressing their parents to buy new one. Most computer sellers said this year they are experiencing a huge demand for computer products from Eid shoppers.

The government’s plans for making the country a digital one and rapid-growing internet connectivity have encouraged young and teenagers to buy computers as Eid gift.

“My 15-year old son Asif is very happy this year with a new computer. I have bought this for him from a local shop at Taka 25,500 as he desired to have a computer as Eid-gift,” Rahman Tarek, a residence of Barisal city living abroad said. He said teenage and young are becoming more interested to use computer as internet technology has bought uncountable pleasures for them and has opened window of opportunity for their future.

“This will bring gro-wth, development and prospect for the nation”.

Sale of Walton refrigerators up ahead of Eid

Sale of Walton refrigerators up ahead of Eid

Walton showrooms all over the country are experiencing growing turnout of customers ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, one of the year’s busiest shopping periods. Huge rush of buyers is being seen at the all showrooms of metropolitan cities, district and upazila towns.

Company sources said: “Walton refrigerators have created huge enthusiasm among local customers as they became aware of Walton brand high quality refrigerators, manufactured at Walton Hi-tech Industries in Gazipur, being exported abroad.

During a visit to the Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, the largest shopping centre in the country, people were seen returning home after buying Walton refrigerators.

Sabina Mallik, a customer in the city’s Kathalbagan area said she had bought an 8cft refrigerator at Tk 18,500. About why she chose to buy this brand of refrigerator, Sabina Mallik told the correspondent that she had discussed the matter with her relatives and all had advised her to buy a Walton brand refrigerator, says a press release.

Bashundhara City Shopping Complex’s Walton Showroom Manager Lutfor Rahman said: “A refrigerator is not a thing of luxury now. Due to the impact of globalisation and improved technology, it is now within the purchasing capacity of middle class and lower middle class. RB Group offers every one essential commodities at competitive rates. Walton refrigerator prices are 20-30 per cent lower compared to imported ones.”

He informed that a 10cft Walton refrigerator was being sold at Tk 20,500 while the same refrigerator of other companies was being sold at Tk 30,000 in local market. A 12cft Walton refrigerator was being sold at Tk 23,500 while the same refrigerator of other companies at Tk 35,000.

He claims that the company has set up a service centre at every showroom with a view to providing after sales service, which also attracts the customers.

Sirajul Islam, Additional Director of RB Group of Companies, about the product said, “The Group always has something innovative and new for its consumers.” imported one.

He claims that the company is committed to exchange any sold product if any major fault is seen within five years and to provide five years service after selling. Walton also gives customers a facility of supplying colour, door, handle, etc as per customers’ choice.

One of the main features of Walton brand refrigerators is 100 per cent copper condense as a result there is no problem within two years. Compressors of Walton refrigerators are imported from Malaysia whose gas charge continues at least 10 years, he also claims.

A senior official of RB Group said in foreign countries a customer buys a refrigerator for two or three years. Later, the customer changes the model.

Supermarkets to spread out

Supermarkets to spread out

A woman shops for household products in a supermarket in Dhaka. The capital will see another 29 supermarkets this year

A woman shops for household products in a supermarket in Dhaka. The capital will see another 29 supermarkets this year

Sohel Parvez

Supermarket biggies have attempted a massive expansion drive this year to catch up more shoppers who still depend on unorganised wet markets to buy their essentials.

The rise in supermarkets, according to analysts, will diversify consumer choices and boost consumer spending needed for economic growth, while the wet markets will also witness an improvement in quality and services on increased penetration of supermarkets.

According to operators, 29 more chain retail outlets are expected to come up this year in an attempt to rope in more customers.

Major expansion drive has been taken by one of the leading local conglomerates, ACI. Its concern ACI Logistics is poised to open 17 outlets in the months to May under the brand name of ‘Fresh N’ Near’.

Meena Bazar is set to add five outlets this year to its existing eight, while Rahimafrooz Superstores will add four, and Nandan Mega Shop three in the same year.

“We feel that customers are ready because of changes in their lifestyle, preferences and needs. We want to offer a neighbourhood experience to consumers by opening more outlets,” said a senior official of ACI Ltd, requesting anonymity.

ACI, which made debut in chain supermarket business in mid-last year, has already opened three outlets, thanks to the enterprising spirit of a few big business houses that pioneered in bringing dynamism in the once-overlooked retailing of perishable and fast moving consumer goods.

Local businesses are set to expand branches at a time when some foreign investors such as Bangkok-based retail and hospitality group CENTEL wants to enter the segment.

But a decade ago, the trade was in the hands of thousands of small retailers in the wet markets and grocery shops in cities and remained out of the focus of business conglomerates.

The landscape began to change after 2000 as Rahimafrooz Superstores, operating company of Agora, began to catch up a slice of retailing and wholesale trade, which has been growing annually by more than 6 percent on an average and contributing over 13 percent to GDP since 1999-2000 fiscal year.

In the last eight years, many small and big supermarkets made debut in the trade to attract middle and upper middle class consumers, a section of whom are shifting to the chain stores from the wet or kitchen markets.

Now around 50 chain supermarkets are operating in Bangladesh, recording an annual turnover of around Tk700 crore, according to Bangladesh Supermarket Owners Association.

“Consumer confidence is increasing and that’s why many are planning expansion,” said Kazi Inam Ahmed, chief executive of Meena Bazar, a concern of Gemcon Group that operates through eight outlets with six in Dhaka.

Inam said five more outlets would be opened this year. “The whole business is based on volume. The more is the sales volume, the more is the possibility of making profit,” he said.

Supermarket operators said a rise in the organised retailing would offer consumers hygienic foods at competitive prices compared to those of unorganised retailers in the kitchen markets where commodities are sold mostly in unhygienic manner.

“It’s a business to connect consumers with better products and prices, and create a market for local manufacturers,” said Inam.

Mahmud Ur Rahman Shakeb of Nandan Mega Shop said the company plans to open three more stores this year to increase the number to six.

“It’s a good sign. Expansion of outlets will boost consumer confidence and help create market for manufacturers,” said Niaz Rahim, managing director of Rahimafrooz Superstores, which has now four Agora branded stores.

“Once the supermarket culture is established, commodity market prices will see stability,” he said.

Syed Ferhat Anwar, who teaches marketing at Institute of Business Administration at Dhaka University, said a rise in supermarkets would give consumers more choices and allow them to choose independently.

“It will increase consumption and help boost economy,” he said, “But the question is if the market is going to be saturated for too much increase in the number of supermarkets.”

Ferhat however said organised retail shops might lead to an improvement in quality and services in the wet markets.