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Rediff.com  » Business » Anti-retail-FDI Mamata cool with foreign brands

Anti-retail-FDI Mamata cool with foreign brands

September 27, 2013 13:54 IST

Anti-retail-FDI Mamata cool with foreign brands

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Probal Basak & Ishita Ayan Dutt in Kolkata

Mamata Banerjee, who had pulled out of UPA-II over FDI in retail, among other issues, would dedicate mall to people of Kolkata.

Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee might be opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI) in single- and multi-brand retail. But on Monday, she would be inaugurating Kolkata’s first high-end and luxury mall, promoted by the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group.

Banerjee, who had pulled out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II over FDI in retail, among other issues, would dedicate the mall to the people of Kolkata.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee.
Photographs: Reuters

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The mall, at Syed Amir Ali Avenue in South Kolkata (near Park Circus), the first real estate project from the group, would be operated by CESC Properties, a subsidiary of the group’s power utility company.

On a built-up area of 720,000 square feet, the mall, Quest, would house brands like Breitling, Burberry, Canali, Emporio Armani, Estee Lauder, Gucci, L’Occitane, Michael Kors, Omega, Paul Smith and Rolex.

The food court would be a combination of international brands and Kolkata street food while the fine-dining brands would be Yauatcha, Bombay Brasserie, Irish House, Smoke House Deli, Serafina, Chili’s.

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Image: A customer walks in front of a Burberry store.
Photographs: Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters

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The Trinamool Congress, however, doesn’t see any conflict between the party’s stand on FDI and the inauguration of the mall by Banerjee.

Industry minister, Partha Chatterjee, said, “One should not confuse this with our opposition to FDI in retail. This project is being done by an Indian promoter. We always said that we would encourage all existing projects.”

Immediately after her decision to pull out of UPA-II, Banerjee had said that she had personally sent messages to “Sonia ji” to reconsider the decision on allowing FDI in single brand and multi-brand retail, diesel price hike and LPG cap, but it had yielded no positive results.

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Image: Mamata Banerjee with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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Almost a year before, Banerjee got passed a resolution in the legislative Assembly, opposing the entry of large domestic and foreign capital in retail.

Chatterjee, however, clarified that it was more in line with the ideology of the party, but added that no measures had been taken to implement it on the ground. “What is important is, who is doing the project,” he reiterated.

Developed by CESC Properties, the Rs 375-crore shopping mall was initially conceived as a joint venture between the Sanjiv Goenka group and Godrej. 

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Image: Mamata Banerjee with Hillary Clinton.
Photographs: Reuters

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However, finally CESC went alone by floating a wholly owned subsidiary, CESC Properties.

According to sources, in the first year, the project was expected to clock in revenues of Rs 70 crore (Rs 700 million) for CESC, with an average rental of Rs 130 to 150 a square feet. 

The mall is designed by global architecture, planning and design firm, RTKL.


Photographs: Reuters

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