Tihar Jail in talks with Reliance Retail, Spencer’s & Vishal Retail to sell products

19 Jul,2012

By Rasul Bailay


TJ’s, a brand of FMCG products made exclusively in Tihar Jail, Asia’s largest prison complex, will soon be available in the outlets of Reliance Retail, one of the largest retailers in the country.


“Over the months, every Reliance Retail food and grocery store in Delhi will display TJ’s products,” said Neeraj Kumar, former director-general of Tihar Jail, who earlier this month assumed office as the commissioner of Delhi Police.


TJ’s branded products, including spices and bakery products, are being sold in Reliance Retail outlets in Gurgaon for the past two months.


“We are already an official vendor to Reliance Retail and have a vendor code,” a jail spokesman said. He said jail officials are also in talks with other retail chains such as Spencer’s Retail and Vishal Retail to sell TJ’s products through their outlets.


Behind the walls and iron gates of the Central Jail of Tihar, more than 600 inmates are working in two shifts in a factory within jail No. 2, making a range of products, including bakery items, spices, stationery, furniture, garments and detergents.


Police Commissioner Kumar said jail authorities plan three shifts as TJ’s products find their way into the lucrative modern retail market. These products were earlier sold only through government offices, Khadi outlets and Kendriya Bhandar stores.


Mr Kumar said jail authorities are in the process of fulfilling requirements such as adding barcodes to products and mentioning the nutritional value of food products before taking them to all Reliance Retail stores in the National Capital Region. “All these formalities are done,” he said.


Reliance Retail did not respond to an emailed questionnaire till late on Tuesday.


TJ’s brand was born in 1995 with bakery products. Over the years, the portfolio has expanded to include handloom and textile, apparel, furniture, mustard oil, stationery paper products and even phenyl for household uses.


In recent months, it has started making soaps, detergent powders and blankets, among other items. In the pipeline are cosmetic items such as face wash and henna. TJ’s products comply with global food safety norms and are certified under various ISO norms. Tihar’s backing school is certified by London-based global technical agency Moody International.


TJ’s revenues have risen from Rs2.36 crore in 2004-2005 to about Rs18 crore in the last fiscal year. TJ’s products’ first brush with the organised retail happened late last year when jail authorities showcased products at Select Citywalk Mall in the city, and got overwhelming response from shoppers. This prompted the jail to open a kiosk in the mall to sell TJ’s products.


Mr Kumar credits brand consultant Suhel Seth, who visited the jail in April, for initiating talks with retail chains. Mr Seth said that after visiting the jail in April he wrote to a host of corporate honchos, calling for promoting TJ’s. “This is a great branding opportunity,” he said.


He expects TJ’s to become a Rs300-crore business, with net profit of Rs30 crore, in the next one year mainly by retailing through branded stores. This would help the jail ramp up capacity and supply products to other cities, Mr Seth said.


Source: The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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