Kerala’s Consumerfed to launch institute for retailers


Thiruvananthapuram : The consumer cooperatives’ federation in the state is all set to launch an institute for retail management. Kerala has so far said a firm ‘no’ to foreign direct investment in retail, and now hopes to train retailers.

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The Kerala State Cooperatives Consumers’ Federation (Consumerfed), the apex body of the consumer cooperatives in the state, runs 3,000 retail outlets. The institute it plans to set up, the Triveni Institute of Retail Management (TIRMA), will come up in Idukki district.

“TIRMA will run a six-month certificate course and a one-year diploma course with 60 students each. We may later start MBA courses in retail management,” Joy Thomas, president of Consumerfed, said Sunday in an interaction with the media.

Students passing out from TIRMA are likely to be offered jobs as supervisors and floor managers at Consumerfed’s retail outlets.

Consumerfed is also looking forward to set up a pharmacy college, as there appears to be a shortage of qualified pharmacists.

“We are setting up a college that would churn out chemists on a regular basis,” said Riji G. Nair, Consumerfed managing director.

As for training druggists, a Triveni Institute of Pharmacy will start functioning in Thrissur district from the next academic year.

“To begin with, each batch will have 60 students doing D.Pharm. We will subsequently start four-year B.Pharm courses as well,” Nair said, recalling that the state government had earmarked Rs.50 lakh for the academy.

The institute will give placement to all pass-outs, with a reasonably good salary, he added.

Consumerfed, which started the no-loss-no-profit Neethi Medical Stores in 1998 by selling medicines at discounted prices of 13 percent to 40 percent of the maximum retail price (MRP), currently has 100 outlets functioning directly under it, besides 600 in the cooperative sector.

“We are aiming to double the number of our stores to 200 by the end of the ongoing financial year. The target is to raise the overall number to 2,500 by 2017,” added Nair, noting that the federation had succeeded in overcoming oligopolistic tactics in the field. Oligopoly is a sellers’ market condition, in which any one of them can affect prices and competition.

A third college to provide vocational courses would be the Triveni Institute of Food Processing (TIFPRO), which will emphasise on adding value to commodities like coconut, mango and jackfruit, thus boosting their sales.

TIFPRO, which is set to open at Wadakkanchery in Thrissur district, with aid from the central government, will next year start a six-month diploma course.

It will focus on providing self-employment where marketing of products like jam and pickle can be promoted through a well-knit chain involving self-help groups of women, the Consumerfed, the managing director said.

All the three proposed institutes will have permanent teaching faculty, besides experts giving guest lectures.