The new retail unit of Reliance Industries Ltd, India's second-most valuable listed firm, plans to rapidly expand now that its first stores are open, its head said on Friday.
"By 2010-11 we will be in 784 cities and towns in urban India, and in 6,000-plus rural locations," Raghu Pillai, president of Reliance Retail Ltd, said in an interview at the opening of a store in Hyderabad.
Reliance Industries, India's top petrochemical maker, is investing around $5.6 billion in setting up a nationwide retail chain of hypermarkets, supermarkets, discount stores, department stores, convenience and specialty stores.
India's retail market - organised and traditional - is estimated at $350 billion and is intensely fragmented. Of this, organised retail accounts for just $8 billion but is growing at 30 per cent annually, analysts say.
About $412 billion will be invested in the retail sector by 2011. Most of this will go towards hypermarkets and supermarkets, they add.
Current rules do not allow foreign chains such as Wal-Mart Inc to set up a retail chain in India.