The policy does not allow such stores to stock general merchandise items such as soaps and other non-food items. While Walmart India continues with its cash-and-carry business in India, it is scanning the horizon to start non-food retail stores.
Walmart India is gung-ho about foraying into non-food retail if the government relaxes the law, said Krish Iyer, president and chief executive officer, Walmart India, on the sidelines of the India Retail Forum. At the moment, the government allows global retailers to sell multi-brand food products through both traditional stores and online channels as long as they are sourced and manufactured in India. The policy does not allow such stores to stock general merchandise items such as soaps and other non-food items. While Walmart India continues with its cash-and-carry business in India, it is scanning the horizon to start non-food retail stores. “Allowing non-food retail is important for both customers and retailers as the former want to buy everything under one roof. Also, non-food retail fetches high margins for retailers and helps weave a good economic model. The ministry of food processing has sought inputs for relaxing foreign direct investment in non-food retailing,” Iyer said. Rajat Wahi, partner, Deloitte, said: “Food items attracts higher volumes, while non-food items fetch higher margins.” On the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), Iyer said it laid down a formalised structure in the industry. He added that GST offered a period of pain in the short term, while in the long run, it would be positive for the industry. “The government should also declare retail as an industry to help access cheaper funds,” he said. Talking about expansion, Iyer said Walmart India continues with its plan to have 70 cash-and-carry stores operational by 2021. The retailer operates 21 ‘best price modern wholesale’ stores in the country after buying out 50% stake in Bharti Walmart from Bharti. Walmart India has also started online services.