At the same time, a knockout round is at play in the online as well as offline retail worlds, where 'survival of the fittest theory' is forcing weaker and smaller players to either close the shop or get merged with stronger rivals – a trend that is likely to consolidate further in 2016.
The year passing-by has also seen overseas players joining the ranks on both the sides -- be it the likes of Amazons with online marts or H&Ms with brick-and-mortar shops bolstered by a liberalised FDI policy.

2015 saw major mergers

This was also the year which saw major mergers involving homegrown supermarket chains including the one between Future Group and Bharti Enterprises. Besides, Aditya Birla group also consolidated its operations.
From abroad, foreign brands such as Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Gap and Aeropostale kicked off their India journey, while German sportswears major Adidas Group geared up to open its own stores from next year after getting nod for 100 percent single-brand operations.
Mahindra Retail, which acquired in February this year, integrated its entire e-commerce business into and later rebranded its offline retail network from Mom & Me to Babyoye by Mahindra.
Likewise, Aditya Birla Group launched its e-commerce portal for apparel, as a one-stop fashion portal for apparel, footwear and accessories for men and women.
Not to be left behind, Spencer's Retail acquired online grocery firm Omnipresent Retail India, which operates, to venture into fast growing e-commerce space.
The government had given a further boost to the e-commerce sector by opening up FDI in the business to customer (B2C) segment in a calibrated manner.
While preparing for the e-commerce challenge, the brick and mortar operators also went on to fortify their traditional stronghold through consolidation.
Aditya Birla Group merged all its apparel businesses from Aditya Birla Nuvo and Madura Garments Lifestyle Retail into one entity -- Pantaloons Fashion & Retail, which was later renamed as Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd.
Aditya Birla Retail also acquired Jubilant Industries' hypermarket business in a slump sale deal.
The merger of the year, however, was between Kishore Biyani-led Future Group and Bharti Enterprises' retail arm Bharti Retail, which runs stores under 'Easy Day' brand.
Through this deal, Future group took control of Bharti Retail by merging its retail business with the latter in a stock deal worth Rs 750 crore to create a Rs 15,000-crore entity with one of the largest networks in the country.

New foreign entrants

As for new entrants, Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) became a hit with its first store in Delhi. Initially, it planned to open just three stores although it had received approval in November, 2013 to open 50 stores.
US-based fashion brands such as Gap and Aeropostale also entered the country through franchise agreements with Arvind Brands.
Another Swedish firm IKEA moved closer to its plan of setting up stores in India by purchased its first land in the country in Hyderabad in July.


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