Bharti Enterprises will kick off its retail venture early next year, opening half-a-dozen stores - branding of which is still being worked out with its back-end partner Wal-Mart.
"The process is going on as per the plan and we are looking at a cluster of stores by early 2008... You will see half-a-dozen coming up," Bharti Group Chairman and CEO Sunil Bharti Mittal, who was recently in the US, told reporters in New Delhi.
Mittal had met Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Mike Duke in Washington during the visit as part of a CII delegation.
The two partners have started recruitments and were busy sorting out the legal issues.
"The legal issues like brand agreement, franchise arrangement may take some time... But we are going ahead as per the plan," said Mittal, who had last year announced an investment of 2.5 billion dollars in its retail venture. While Bharti would manage the front-end, Wal-Mart would provide back-end and logistics support.
FDI in multi-brand retail is a strict no no in India, which, however, allows 51 per cent foreign direct investment in single brand retail and 100 per cent in cash and carry wholesale business. The existing policy also allows FDI through the franchisee route.
The Bharti-Wal-Mart joint venture is being structured in consonance with the FDI policy.
Mittal, who also met several business and political leaders in the US, said that the Americans were keen on India opening FDI in multi brand retail.
Asked about the FDI limit in retail desired by the US, Mittal said in the beginning they would be happy to see it happening, may be with 26 per cent.