Even as the government mulls over attaining a general consensus on opening up foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in multi-brand retail, the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is slowly expanding its footprint in India.
In the pipeline are plans to open more B2B stores with joint venture partner Bharti Enterprises. On hold are its plans to open the low-cost, no frills front-end multi-branded retail stores.
“Our new store development is focused on high-growth markets such as Mexico, China, and Brazil,” said a WalMart India spokesperson. “We continue to pursue the middle-income customer in these markets. We have recently established our presence in high growth markets such as India and Africa with our joint ventures. In India we currently have 17 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores and are looking further to expand our presence in the country.”
The company will look at opening at least 15 cash-and-carry stores under its Bharti-Walmart JV. The Best Price Modern Wholesale, B2B cash-and-carry whole stores, offer merchandise to retailers, offices and institutions, hotels, restaurants and caterers at best prices. The retailer has put on hold its plans to introduce the bodega format (low-cost and no frills) stores and is waiting for the government guidelines to be revised to permit investment in multi-brand front-end retail sector.
“Should the government guidelines be revised to permit investment in multi-brand front-end retail sector, we would evaluate the opportunities at that time and take an appropriate decision,” said the spokesperson.
At present, foreign retailers are not allowed to sell directly in India. They are also required to invest at least $100 million, half of which has to be spent on developing back-end infrastructure.