Reuters | Thu Jul 22, 2010 | 12:57pm IST
Wal-Mart, the world’s top retailer, will be ready to open hundreds of stores in India if the country opens up the sector to freer foreign direct investment, the chief of its Indian joint venture said. India does not allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail, but permits 51 percent foreign investment in single-brand retail and 100 percent in wholesale ventures. Earlier this month, the commerce and industry ministry took a tentative step towards opening up of the organised retail sector in the country to foreign companies and put out a paper which discussed lifting investment caps.
"If the laws of the country change to opening of FDI in retailing, we could open hundreds of stores," Bharti Wal-Mart Managing Director and Chief Executive Raj Jain said on Thursday. "It is essential that FDI in retail opens up, because then we can open our own stores and carry the product in hygienic, safe conditions not only at the farm-gate but also right up to where the consumer buys from us," he said. When asked whether Wal-Mart would continue with the joint ventuer if the government relaxed foreign investment in retail, Jain said: "We have not decided. Depending upon how and what the laws will be we will decide." "We are very happy with our joint venture," he added.
Bharti Wal-Mart operates wholesale stores under the Best Price Modern Wholesale brand, and has so far opened two stores. The U.S. retailer also plans to have a total of 140 retail stores by the end of 2010, up from the current 80, which are operated by Bharti Retail under a franchise arrangement. UK’s Tesco has a joint venture with Tata’s Trent while Germany’s Metro AG has a solo operation of wholesale stores in the country. French retailer Carrefour is expected to launch its wholesale stores soon.