Of FDI, Wal-Mart & controversies: An eventful year for retail

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Retail sector courted controversies during the year with several opposition parties making it a political issue. (Reuters) Retail sector courted controversies during the year with several opposition parties making it a political issue. (Reuters)
SummaryRetail sector courted controversies during the year with several opposition parties making it a political issue.

open fully-owned stores.

Besides, a 51 per cent joint venture of American luxury clothing retailer Brooks Brothers is the third proposals that got cleared. Italian jewellery maker Damiani's plan to form a venture with Mehta's Pvt Ltd also received a nod from FIPB.

For German sportswear maker Adidas Group's arm Reebok India, it was a year trying to overcome the impact of an alleged a Rs 870-crore fraud by its former Managing Director Subhinder Singh Prem and Chief Operating Officer Vishnu Bhagat, who allegedly indulged in "criminal conspiracy" and "fraudulent" practices over a period of time.

The case is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Income Tax Department. Both the officials were arrested along with three others. As per Adidas Group, it is expected to take a hit of 70 million euro (about Rs 490 crore) in its global operating profit in 2012 on account of "irregularities" at Reebok India.

In addition to this financial irregularity, Reebok India also faced protests from its franchisees against the firm's plan to shut down one-third of its 900 Reebok stores here as a part of a restructuring strategy for the brand.

Although towards the end of the year progress was made regarding FDI in retail in India, the prolonged policy uncertainty made other global retail majors such as Tesco and Metro stay away.

The UK-based retail giant Tesco said it was looking at opening retail stores in India, but it would have to first study the "unusual" sourcing conditions for FDI in multi- brand segment before deciding on it. It had entered into a partnership with Tata group firm Trent in 2008 for providing back-end support to the latter.

Germany's Metro Group announced that it will not enter the front-end segment in India, citing unhappiness over pace of development and the need to "remove barriers".

The group, whose global revenue is equally contributed by both the front-end retail and the cash-and-carry businesses, said India needs to accelerate decision-making regarding economic policies. In India, it is present for the last 10 years through only cash-and-carry wholesale segment and currently operates 12 stores.

During the year, domestic major Future Group struggled hard to reduce its huge debt burden of around Rs 6,000 crore. As part of this initiative, the Kishore Biyani-led entity gave away majority control of its flagship Pantaloon to Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd for a total consideration of Rs 1,600 crore.

In June, Future

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