Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is planning to open 50 cash and carry or wholesale retail outlets in India over the next four to five years, as per a press release. This comes even as the firm faces uncertainty in starting the consumer retail venture in the country.
Although foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retailing has been allowed by the current Congress-led political coalition, it carries the rider of standalone approvals from various state governments where the outlets are proposed to be set up.
Given that many states are run by parties opposed to FDI in retail such a liberalisation has been as good as a non-starter. Moreover, the key opposition political party BJP, which is expected to emerge as the top party in the ensuing general elections, is opposed to opening the retail sector and has categorically talked about not allowing FDI in retail.
In the first deal in the sector, Tesco recently inked a deal to buy a stake in Tata Group’s hypermarket chain.
Walmart already has 20 wholesale stores in India under the brand Best Price Modern Wholesale. These stores are not open to consumers but restricted to other retailers.
"We will continue to focus on the cash and carry format as we are very happy with the way it has shaped up in the last few years. The format is also poised to grow in India and we would like to serve the growing customer base by opening 50 new cash and carry stores over the next four-five years and extend the e-commerce platform to our cash and carry members with a virtual shopping opportunity," said Scott Price, president & CEO, Walmart Asia.
The firm has been trying to rebuild its India operations after buying out its local JV partner Bharti Enterprises in the wholesale retail business and overhauled its top management in the country late last year. Bharti Enterprises’ retail arm separately runs physical B2C retail outlets.
Walmart had appointed Krish Iyer to head its India operations as part of its growth plan.
Meanwhile, Walmart is extending the B2B e-commerce platform to its Best Price Modern Wholesale store members. As an exclusive virtual store for its members, the e-commerce platform will provide a similar assortment of products, as well as special items.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)