Traders burn Walmart effigy in Haridwar; plan state-wide protests against US retailer’s stores

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Updated: September 4, 2019 8:03:12 PM

The small and micro retailers and distributors in Haridwar are scattered across categories including woollen garments, puja articles, handicrafts, artificial jewellery etc., and have tourism as their primary source of business.

Walmart so far owns and operates 26 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in India beginning with Amritsar in 2009.

Around 4,000-member strong Haridwar’s association of local traders — Haridwar Vyapar Mandal staged protests against Uttarakhand government’s alleged approval to Flipkart’s parent Walmart for setting up stores in the ancient city apart from commercial centre Haldwani and capital city of Dehradun in order to boost local employment. “There are around 5,000 small businesses in Haridwar out of which around 4,000 are members of our Vyapar Mandal. Walmart’s bulk-purchasing drives down prices of goods that will make us uncompetitive and unviable to operate against Walmart,” Haridwar Vyapar Mandal’s General Secretary Pradeep Kalra told Financial Express Online.

The small and micro retailers and distributors in Haridwar are scattered across categories including woollen garments, puja articles, handicrafts, artificial jewellery etc., and have tourism as their primary source of business. “Unlike metros where Walmart may be suitable, small cities’ businesses would be most impacted due to this move. We organised a protest march and burnt Walmart’s effigy on Sunday. So far, there have been no discussions with Walmart or with the state government on this matter,” Kalra.

Also read: Tiger Global bets more on Flipkart; buys shares from Binny Bansal

However, Walmart, which sources multiple products for 14 global markets from India as it serves as an important sourcing market for the company, said that opening cash & carry stores, which are B2B wholesale stores, in Uttarakhand is in line with the government policies even as it focuses on helping its Kirana partners to grow by sourcing more than 95 per cent goods for its Best Price branded cash & carry Stores from the domestic market locally. Hence, these stores are not in conflict with B2C retailers in India.

Apart from the sourcing part, “Each of our Best Price Store creates 2,000 jobs directly and indirectly and more than 99 per cent of our employees are hired locally. We source from regional and local suppliers and from farmers directly, thus boosting the local MSME ecosystem and providing market access to smallholder farmers,” a Walmart India spokesperson told Financial Express Online.

According to local media reports, Uttarakhand government has approved setting up of Walmart stores in these three cities against which protests will be carried out between September 1-7 starting from Nainital, Haridwar, Kashipur to Rurki, Almora, Pithoragarh, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Ranikhet, Paudi, Rishikesh, Dehradun, and Haldwani. “We want to grow our protest to the level that government hear us and rule in our favour,” said a local retailer.

The association said that it will oppose setting up of such hypermarkets by any organisation whether foreign or Indian in future as well as it hinders retail trade in the state. Kalra added that the decision will be taken ahead on how to grow the protest in number and significance in order to put pressure on the local authorities.

Nonetheless, Walmart spokesperson added that the company would remain focused on helping the local ecosystem grow. Walmart so far owns and operates 26 Best Price Modern Wholesale Stores in India beginning with Amritsar in 2009. It also has three fulfilment centres in India in Mumbai, Lucknow and Hyderabad.

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