Wal-Mart India plans could be unveiled at AGM

Bentonville, May 30 | Updated: May 31 2007, 05:30am hrs
There is an air of expectancy around this picture sque valley town of Bentonville, Arkansas, as the worlds largest retailer, the $345 -billion Wal-Mart, prepares to host the annual shareholders meeting at the Bud Walton Arena in the University of Arkansas campus on June 1.

Retail watchers, analysts and general consumers in India will watch with great interest any statements or numbers Wal-Mart issues about its India venture at the AGM. After its tie-up with the Bharti Group, these will be the first indicators of its carefully guarded India strategy. The event for which over 20,000 visitors have descended on this breathtakingly beautiful town of rolling greens set among the Ozark mountains, could throw light on how the retailer--once the world's most admired corporation--is likely to address issues related to treatment of its labour force as well as the local communities it operates in. These issues have, in recent years, been seized by activists to attack the company's policies. Its riposte would be keenly watched in India where Big Retail, as it is today in the form of forays from groups like Reliance and Aditya Birla, is under attack for hurting local kirana shops, the equivalent of the local retailers that Wal- Mart is alleged to have undercut and underpriced into extinction. With its international operations growing at 30% last year, based on growth in countries like Mexico where it has 903 stores and the UK, Wal -Mart has been able to put aside its exit last year from South Korea and Germany.

Travel for this story was sponsored by Wal-Mart