This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by rajumoza. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“The Desire To Create Value Keeps Me Motivated.” Interview With Lalit Agarwal Of V Mart

More from rajumoza

By Raju Moza: 

With the opening up of the Indian retail to foreign players after FDI, comes a great challenge, of survival. Indigenous brands like V Mart and Future Group have just started to develop their roots and the foreign players are ready to enter the party with their low cost value propositions. While this is good for consumers at large, it has far reaching implications for business owners. I interviewed Mr. Lalit Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, V Mart Retail to get his thoughts first-hand on the need for FDI, organized retail and more.


Raju Moza: We keep on talking about the need of foreign players in retail, do we really need them? If so, do we need them for their capital or skill sets or both?
Lalit Agarwal: We need huge amount of infrastructure to develop backend and as you will be aware, being a finance person, the cost of capital is huge in India. The gestation period is high and to recover this high cost capital, one should have a deep pocket. Hence, we need foreign players primarily for the investment than the skill sets they bring.

India has one of the highest retail densities in world, approximately 12 million retail outlets exist but there is a fear that organized retail (modern trade) may wipe them out. What are your thoughts about this?
In the last one decade we have seen that modern trade has not taken much share from the existing market; rather, they have taken a pie from the growing market. The important fact is that modern trade has increased competition due to which Mom and Pop stores are also undergoing major changes.

The biggest problem of organized retail (modern trade) has been pilferage. What do you think are reasons for such high pilferage?
It is a peculiar problem in India, and pilferage exists on various fronts including the customer, employee, vendor, security or logistics partner. First and foremost is the lax legal system, because of which the offender is aware that the company won’t press for legal recourse, since the system is not only complex but time consuming too.

What went wrong with Indian retail industry?
There are multiple factors at play, in some cases sales mix was not right, high rental costs didn’t justify particular unit’s business, and in some cases it was mindless expansion without giving consideration to some minute details.

Was a race for high valuation also one of the reasons, whereby, some entities just wanted to create number of stores, hoping that foreign players will come and buy them out?
It might be, I am not privy to such cases.

V mart

It seems the investor outlook is bit negative to retail industry as we speak.
I don’t think so, may be that exuberance is not there, but to say it is negative won’t be the right conclusion. I strongly believe that if you have a good mix of idea and execution, investors will be there.

We would like to know why you don’t want to go the franchisee route.
I don’t think multi brand franchisee will work, for a simple fact, that an Indian entrepreneur, who happens to be a franchisee owner, cannot control greed.

Tell us something about yourself, your background and city of birth?
I am from Calcutta, completed my initial education in the same city. Later on, I moved with my father to Orissa, where, along with education I was helping him in his retail shop.

You were associated with Vishal Retail and then, if our knowledge is correct, things turned sour. What went wrong between you and Mr. Ram Chand Agarwal, owner of Vishal Retail?
Yes, I was a part of Vishal retail. Some times in life, things go awry. It is fine. We are a part of the family and ups and downs in a family are part and parcel of it. Whatever happens, happens for good, if I wouldn’t have exited out of Vishal — V mart would not have been there.

What is the plan to move forward?
Our endeavor is to continue growing at 30% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate), have presence in some cities where we ought to be.

Is there any plan to exit?
What will I do after exiting? I am neither too old nor I am bored of my work. Having said that, I am an open person, I am open to options but as of now there has been no proposal on the table which can make me think.

Are there any plans to go overseas?
No, as of now we are concentrating on the domestic market. That said, if some opportunity arises we will surely look at it.

Any plans for diversification, other than retail?
No, there is huge opportunity in retail and we want to exploit that. Secondly, my way of doing business is getting involved personally, I don’t think I will be able to spare time and energy for any other business as of now.

The aura emanating from you is full of motivation, what motivates you?
Life is beautiful. I like to create value, be it for stakeholders or the ecosystem. The desire to create that value keeps me motivated.

What keeps you occupied besides work?
Though I do collect books but I hardly get time to read. Whenever I get time, I love to spend it with my family.

You must be to comment.
  1. beni Kinha

    Motivating conversation, as people like Mr. Lalit Agarwal started his journey from very basic stage and lead up to current status is very motivating and guiding story…definitely these success stories give new comers in field a direction.. keep feet on furm on ground and one experimenting.. Beni Kinha

More from rajumoza

Similar Posts

By Juhi Smita

By Megha Parmar

By Youth Action Hub- India (Delhi)

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below