Multi-brand retail: Walmart exit will be a speck in India's market, says P Chidambaram

Written by Press Trust of India | Washington | Updated: Oct 15 2013, 16:40pm hrs
Walmart IndiaWhy do we assume that Walmart will make a huge difference to India\'s retail market, asks P Chidambaram. PTI
The row in the multi-brand retail space continues with Indian FM P Chidambaram taking pot-shots at the US retailer Walmart's actions ehere. The world's largest retailer, Walmart, will be a speck in India's market and its absence won't make a huge difference to the country, finance minister P Chidambaram has said.

"Walmart will be a speck in India's retail market,which is driven by millions of standalone stores. India's retail market has been strengthened by Indian retail chains. So why do we assume that Walmart will make a huge difference to India's retail market" he said in a TV interview.

He was replying to a question on whether Walmarts move to part ways with joint venture partner Bharti Enterprises was a setback for the Indian retail sector.

Bharti and Walmart said on October 9 they have reached an agreement to independently own and operate separate business formats in India and discontinue their franchise agreement in retail business.

The US retail giant has been pitching for relaxing local sourcing norms under the FDI policy for multi-brand retail. The Indian government has said there is no plan to relax the mandatory 30% local sourcing norms for foreign players in the sector.

The two partners joined hands in 2007 and launched the first Best Price Modern Wholesale cash-and-carry store in Amritsar in May 2009. At present, there are 20 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores located at places like Amritsar, Zirakpur, Jalandhar, Kota, Bhopal, Ludhiana, Raipur, Indore, Vijayawada, Agra, Meerut, Lucknow and Jammu.

India allowed 51% investment in multi-brand retailing in September 2012, but no foreign retailer has so far applied to enter the country.

Walmart is the second-largest corporation in the Fortune Global 500 list for 2013, with revenues of $469.2 billion and profit of $17 billion.

Studying feasibility of FDI in multi-brand: Walmart

New Delhi, Oct 14: The world's largest retailer Walmart says it is studying the feasibility of India's FDI policy in multi-brand retail before finalising plans to enter the segment as the norms played a part in its break-up with Bharti Enterprises. "We continue to study the feasibility of the new FDI policy... we continue to monitor the environment for FDI in MBR (multi-brand retail)," Wal-mart India spokesperson said. Stating that Walmart plans to continue growing the cash-and-carry business, the spokesperson said the company will work "with the government and interested stakeholders to create conditions that enable foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail".

On the role played by the current policy in the company's break-up with Bharti, she said: "Under the requirements of the new FDI policy, Walmart could not invest in multi-brand retail through the existing Bharti Retail business." Bharti and Walmart's decision to independently own and operate separate business formats in India is based on external and internal factors, including the new policy, she added.