January 10, 2012

It Happened in India - Book Review

Hi Guys,

Recently I read the book ‘It Happened in India’. It is the story of Kishore Biyani, the owner of Pantaloons, Big Bazaar and Central. It is an autobiography type book with inputs from other people as well.

How I started reading this book is an interesting story. I went to college along with friend in order to meet our project guide. After meeting, my friend went to the college office for getting bonafide certificate to apply for passport. In the meantime, I went to Library and was just skimming through the books and this book caught my attention. I started reading the first 3 pages and I was impressed. I just borrowed the book home and started reading. It was such a fantastic book to read.

The book starts with the story of January 26, 2006 when Big Bazaar announced special offers to attract customers and the shops were flooded with sea of people and had to be shut down to avoid damage. Kishore Biyani is a very energetic man and he always thinks in terms of Indian Customers. His main objective from first day was ‘Rewrite Rules, Retain Values’

He divides India into three sets – India One, India Two and India Three. India 1 accounting for 14% of the population is the elite group and they are the main spenders. India 2 comprising of 55% of population is the middle class and they avoid the places India One visits. Kishore Biyani says that this is the main consuming class and making them to come to visit Big Bazaar is the main advantage of the store. By strong advertisement, he built the brand and his team also visited the areas where the Indian – two lived and understood their lifestyle and needs.

After saying about the Indian Customers, he goes into his early life. Living in a joint family whose business is textile mills. He was always different from others and his family members constantly opposed him. The book then zips through his college life, where he accepted many responsibilities. He then joined family business.

He says ‘There are three kinds of entrepreneurs – creators, preservers and destroyers’ His fathers and uncles were preservers and he wanted to be a creator. So he left the business and started experimenting. Though his father disliked it, he didn’t stop him. The next phase of his life was setting up the readymade apparel store Pantaloons. From 1980s to 2000, he tried different brands and struggled a lot, before he built the brand and set up the giant.

In this phase he also tried to increase capital by getting into stocks. He says that he was always willing to take risks and never worried about the future. Towards 2000, the thought of setting a hypermarket was in his mind. He knew that the structure of foreign retailing won’t be suitable for our country.

When he was unsure of how the response will be, he came across Saravana Stores in Chennai and he was amazed by the response there. Its mantra was ‘Low cost, high turnover’ and he says that the multi – storied building and everlasting crowd cleared all his doubts. He says that he did two changes to the concept – Saravana was family business, Big Bazaar is not and he improved the customer service in Big Bazaar. He says that people think Big Bazaar was inspired by the Walmarts of the world, but actually it was inspired by the Saravana Stores.
Brands started by Kishore Biyani

He then goes into the starting of the Big Bazaar and spreading it. He says he believes in Win-win-win strategy, a strategy which the seller, the distributor and the customer – all are benefited and profited. He says it leads to long term relationship.

He is so open in the book and he openly says the strategies by which he attracts the people. He says the main aim to draw the money from the people’s wallet or to make people spend more.

After this he says about setting the Central Mall, which is a decentralized mall and a place where anyone can sell their product and they need to give commission only for sold products. Or, it’s more like a village bazaar, where all products are sold at a common place.

The book is so energetic and refreshing. Dipayan Bashya has done a great work in integrating all the people’s thoughts and also presenting Kishoreji’s thoughts in a crisp manner. A must read book for people who want to know about the retail setup of India.

The book I have is priced at Rs. 99 (2007 edition), but when I checked in Flipkart, I found the price is increased now (MRP: Rs. 195 – Flipkart gives 30% discount).

Happy Reading!!!


  1. I have read it...A good book...I bought it for even less back in 2007...

  2. I have always liked reading success stories and this Books looks like one.
    Personally have visited Big Bazaar many a times and I have seen many malls still running because people visit there in Big Bazaar only.
    I am on a spree to read Autobiographies and Biographies will look into it also.


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