Friday, October 8, 2010

Delhi Police says 'No' to merchandising stores inside CWG venues

There seems to be no end to setbacks for the Organising Committee (OC) of the XIX Commonwealth Games . And they seem to be coming with an automatic regularity everyday. This time the Delhi Police has overruled the committee's order to set up 63 CWG merchandise stores inside the stadium venues. "We cannot allow things to be taken in or out of the venue because of security reasons as it could be risky not just for the players but also for the spectators as well, " said Rajan Bhagat , spokesperson of the Delhi Police when contacted.

It has ordered the removal of the existing 17 merchandise stores from the stadium premises by Saturday. When asked if they failed to work in tandem with the OC who had allowed their merchandising partner to open stores inside the venues, Mr Bhagat refused to comment. Premier Brands Ltd. (PBL), merchandising partner and the sole retail concessionaire for CWG 2010, had a contract with the OC to open 63 stores in 10 stadium venues. Of these the merchandising partner had opened just 17 so far which is being shut down at present following the police commissioner's order on Thursday.

Thirteen out of the 17 stores were in the main Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and the rest four in other stadiums selling inventory worth Rs 1 crore. "We are in the process of removing our stores which will be done in the next two days," says Suresh Kumar , chairman, PBL. "We have incurred loss of inventory worth over Rs 4 crore in all the 10 stadium venues where inventories were dispersed and stores were yet to be opened," he added. The company has incurred a loss worth Rs 4-5 crore that includes all cost borne on inventory and the cost of venue contractors , which was Rs 2.5 lakh per store.

Mr Lalit Bhanot, OC general secretary, said he had no clue about the development. "I have no idea on the Delhi police orders as I was busy with meetings throughout the day," he said. The abrupt order has come at a time when the CWG merchandise was seeing brisk sales.T-shirts , vuvuzelas, jackets, casual wear and kid's apparels, generic items like umbrellas, key-chains and mugs were some of the popular items. PBL has sold 65,000 T-shirts already out of the first lot of 75,000. Around 21,000 vuvuzelas had been sold out of our total stock of 50,000 and 10,000 Shera soft toys have been picked up from a lot of 25,000.

"We had run out of stocks and we were filling almost everyday ," Kumar said. "Our total investment was in the tune of Rs 4 crore," he added. "We were anticipating a profit of about Rs 10-12 crore (over $2.25 million) but now we don't think we will be able to make even half of that," says Kumar. Merchandising, however, began quite late in India for CWG in comparison big ticket sports events in other nations. For the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it started as early as three years before the Games while the 2012 London Olympics' flagship store and online sales have already started functioning.

"We were given four dates earlier but the OC failed to launch the merchandise and now we are at a complete loss. No assurance has been given so far by the OC to handle the situation," says Kumar. The merchandiser was even slated to sell the products in the entire country but OC decided to restrict it only to Delhi and the national capital region because of lack of time.

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