Friday, September 14, 2007

Book Review: IT HAPPENED in INDIA-Kishore Biyani

Title: It Happened in India by Kishore Biyani
Published by: Rupa Co
Total Pages: 268
Price: INR 99

About the author: Kishore Biyani (KB) is the man behind Pentaloon Retail, Big Bazaar, Central etc and heads the Future Group (under which these stores operate). He is identified as retail Guru of India.

About the contents:
First four sections (till page 108) give introduction to KB’s early days, his family business, challenges faced, setting up of Pantaloon, struggles undergone etc. To sum up, KB faced similar problems what Narayan Murthy faced while starting Infosys or Kiran Majumdar Shaw started Biocon etc. All these people had a vision far ahead of their times and community around them were not in a position to understand and appreciate their vision. Despite severe problems in terms of funding, co operation etc, all these entrepreneurs pursued their dreams, worked day and night on it, and over a period of time have built empires every one is proud of now.
IT Happened in India by Kishore Biyani

The next part about big bazaar, I find it very interesting. All facts collected about big bazaar are available in a separate post here

Next Section is about KB’s attempt as Bollywood movie maker. He tried to replicate the success of Kaho Na pyaar hein with the movie “Naa Tum Jaano Na Hum” which failed drastically. I haven’t bothered to watch that movie till date, but now knowing that KB is the man behind that, I will watch it whenever possible, just to see how he has used the movie to promote the Pantaloon stores in it.

The other (and the last one) movie produced by KB is Chura Liya Hain Tumne, which also proved to be a flop. If you don’t know, it is Kishore Biyani who introduced Rakhi Sawant and Himesh Reshamiya to the bollywood with this movie … (No further comments!!!)

Other sections of the book provide some vital insights into the retail business. By and large looks like a self appreciation through out with inputs from so many friends, business contacts, relatives writing their opinion about KB and KB himself dedicating lots of paragraphs to explain “why I’m so great”. But then, what he has achieved within a short span is out there for every one to see, so he has every right to boast about it.

What I find missing:

1. The city of Bengalooru (formerly Bangalore) is wrongly spelt in the beginning of the book as “Bangalooru” (in the page left to the dedication page). Small error indeed, but since through out the book KB claims his strength lies in understanding of local consumers and with wrong spelling of a city name, that statement can be questioned.

2. Throughout the book, “value proposition” is quoted hundreds of times, but I don’t see any consideration given to quality. Most of the goods sold in Big Bazaar are supplied from consolidators (Suppliers) and with wafer thin margin and focus on volume, I seriously doubt the commitment of these suppliers towards quality. Big bazaar is expected to conduct quality checks on third party products, so that its customers won’t feel cheated. There’s no mention of what quality assurance measures Big Bazaar has in place.

3. There’re lots of billing issues at Big Bazaar. Latest prices quoted in promos are not promptly updated in the billing system and most of the customers (unless they detect the mistake and complain immediately) end up paying more than what they thought they were paying. What measures BB has to address customer grievances etc are not explained.

4. No mention of ICICI BB co branded credit card

5. In the early pages he states all his innovations were first launched in Kolkata and then tried elsewhere in the country. However Central Mall was first launched in Bangalore and later at other places.

6. It’s not clear which part of the book is authored by Dipayan Baisha, a business writer and co author for this book. I assume he is involved in properly wording the inputs given by KB so that the contents appear in a proper sequence and logic.

Verdict: Worth reading once for those who want to know little more about Indian Retail industry.

Image sourced from

Related: Big Bazaar: Facts you should know|
* Book Review- Not a penny more not a penny less- Jeffrey Archur
* Book Review-Merchants of Deception- Eric Scheibler
|The 3 Mistakes of my life-Chetan Bhagat * Book Review- Raga Chintamani
2011 Book reviews: Topgear magazine * Comical Saga Fate, Fraud and Friday Wedding *


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Comments received for this post at MOuthshut:

Paulsb02 said:
Sep 08, 2007 11:50 AM

Hai Srinidhi,

That’s a cool write up.

The retail industry is still in the developing stage and surely such sharing of information will help the industry grow and reviews like this will pass the news of the book around. I have not paid attention to who produced Kaho Na Pyaar Hai...Good to know.

Good work.

Keep writing.

Chintu25 said:
Sep 08, 2007 12:00 PM

Hi Shrini...

Have always been wanting to pick this boook but was always undecided....but ur revuee gives me some direction, the pricing though is attractive enough....
I agree with u that Big Bazaar does compromise on quality...
“Naa Tum Jaano Na Hum” was a mediocre movie and Patnaloons was a veeery small part of it as in only some scenes were shot keeps coming on Sony Max...u can catch it there..:)

keep writing

enidhi said:
Sep 08, 2007 12:11 PM

Kaho Na Pyar hai is not produced by KB. KB was behind Naa Tum Jaano Na hum, a moview which had story line similar to Kaho Na Praar hai and had almost same cast and crew.


Thanks for that information on the movie.
vmshut said:
Sep 14, 2007 01:32 PM

Hi enidhi

Excellent review. I have tried to buy this book several times but just fell short of actually getting it in hand. After your review I am prompted to buy it. I believe in entrepreneurship and admire all such persons even though many of them might not have succeeded without some underhand deals. But I believe that without these people this world’s progress would be very poor. Some vision, some guts, some luck, some acumen and lot of sweat all these combine to spell success for the visionary. Organised retail outlets fall in that category. Malls are great. They provide one much more shopping pleasure at no extra cost.

Thanks for providing a good read. Keep it up.

rinshisahai said:
Sep 14, 2007 02:19 PM

Hi Shrinidhi,%0d%0athnxx for the review.. it was vgud... n as far as the mvie is concerned.. i have seen the mvie (na tum jano na hum) but never paid attention to the producers or pantaloons significance...well as far as i knw.. the only significance was that thr heroine’s (easha deol) family has pantaloons franchise n she meets hero(hrithik roshan) thru a pantaloon photoshoot...i guess tat was the only pantaloon significance in the mvie... seems the retailers are interested in different type of fields these days n they r nt scared in experimenting... %0d%0a%0d%0athnx for the knowledge..%0d%0aRinshi
vishalvkale01 said:
Sep 14, 2007 03:37 PM

Since he has included details on how he set up his retail business, it should make for interesting reading... and should score high on the learning potential for people like me who are avidly watching the retail industry. I had spotted this book, but most regrettably had dismissed it as the ego-polishing of a tycoon! Very remiss of me. I forgot the cardinal rule of all bibliophiles : Never judge a book by its cover!
enidhi said:
Sep 14, 2007 03:57 PM

you’re absolutely right about enterprenurs.

@Rinshi: Thanks for those inputs on the movie.. may be I wont watch it now...

@Vishal: Yes, he has written about how all his business came up. Problems and how he overcame them.
As I said self appreciation takes several pages in the book but that is bearable.

All: Thanks for the comments.
Paulsb02 said:
Sep 14, 2007 06:12 PM


Congratulations on the review being named as review of the day.

Keep rocking.


enidhi said:
Sep 15, 2007 10:56 AM

Thanks for the comment Paul.

That keeps me inspired to write more..

Sa+cH said...

ts Scary..!At this juncture when an optimist about the retail sector in India reads this book, he would hate it(both the book & retail). Cause this book begs to prove that the largest retail company in the country was formed by...fluke. The book is full of tales of Biyani's hits and misses vouching for his anarchist approach in the whole gamble. People like Rama Bijapurkar, Ushir Bhatt, Sameer Sain have been penned as mere bystanders to the whole roulette. From a literary perspective, this would go down as an Indian take on - Made in America- Sam Walton. But as Biyani writes about his denial of regret for the premature listing of the company on the stock exchange, i feel even the book is a little premature. Biyani talks about the concept of Sabse Sasta Din and you would think he invented it, but actually ask any large format retailer and the would say Biyani just discovered it. (Anyways, he's the first to pen it down). The book gives you a sneak peek into varied subjects like Memetics, Observational Research, Jonathan Livingston Seagull which sounds very clichéd of this genre of Business auto/biography. Biyani has tried to invent new concepts like India One,India Two which to me are very abstract, irrational and blur. At a certain point during the end somewhere the book looks like a PR initiative for the National Institute of Design and a certain design firm called Idiom Design. Biyani takes a dig at his critics in the press as well as the competition in terms of Shoppers Stop, The Piramals, Westside. But in his mention of FDI and about the FDI entrants in 1997 he mentions Dairy Farm-RPG, Nanz-Marsh Supermarkets-Escorts, but conveniently ignores the mention of the 3rd major entrant, Lifestyle which looks intentional. Overall the book is a good read for a person who's new to Indian Retail, its also at a good price point of Rs 99, which i feel is a good tactic. But comes no where close to Made in America, which IHII tries to emulate. i feel as though i just heard Anu Malik's take on Pink Floyd.

Shrinidhi Hande said...


You've brought to light several valuable observations. Thanks

Indian Retailer said...

a must read book for anyone wnating insights :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...