Bharti Walmart planning more wholesale stores, Punjab is focusAugust 6th, 2010 - 1:34 pm ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Jalandhar (Punjab), Aug 6 (IANS) Bharti Walmart is planning to open 10 to 15 cash-and-carry wholesale stores over the next three years and hoping that the government will open up multi-brand retail to foreign investment.
“We are committed to building a strong and efficient supply chain that would benefit consumers. This process can be strengthened if we are also allowed to invest in front-end retailing. Talks are on. We are very optimistic the government will open up FDI for multi-brand retailing,” Chairman Rajan Bharti Mittal told IANS in an interview.
India does not allow foreign investment in multi-brand retail, but permits 51 per cent foreign investment in single-brand retail and 100 per cent in wholesale ventures. The government last month launched a debate on FDI in multi-brand retail, releasing a discussion paper which does not suggest an upper limit on foreign investment in multi-brand retail.
Bharti Walmart is an equal joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and US-based retailing giant Walmart.
Mittal said the retail market is currently around $400 billion and it is growing at 22-24 per cent. “Consumption is continuously increasing and in the same manner as needs of young population is increasing; so retail business will continue getting good response.”
Bharti Walmart Wednesday opened its third “Best Price Modern Wholesale cash-and-carry store” here. This was the third cash-and-carry store of Bharti Walmart in Punjab and the country. The first store was opened in Amritsar in May 2009 and second was started in Zirakpur near Chandigarh in April 2010.
The company is concentrating on Punjab as a base before moving to other states.
“There were three reasons behind chosing Punjab,” said Mittal. “First, we understand the consumer base and consumption power in Punjab are far ahead, if we compare them with other parts of the country. You look at other big brands of cars, and even McDonald’s, they all have maximum sales in Punjab.”
“Second, Punjab is my home state, I belonged to Ludhiana city, therefore I always wanted to start my new venture from here. Third, we got full support from the Punjab government so there was no reason to think of states other than Punjab,” he added.
Mittal, who is also chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises, said he wanted to replicate the model in other states.
“We are starting small, keeping all parameters in mind. We strongly believe in this model and all our stores here are getting an encouraging response. It will also help us to move to other places. If there is success in one state, then other states will follow the footsteps.”
Bharti Walmart Chief Executive Raj Jain told IANS: “We have invested close to $25 million in Punjab. Presently three-five more cash-and-carry stores are in various stages of construction in different parts of the company. But right now we cannot disclose the exact locations.”
Each cash-and-carry store stock about 6,000 items, including a wide range of fresh and frozen foods, fruits and vegetables, dry groceries, personal and home care, hotel and restaurant supplies, clothing, office supplies and other general merchandise items.
“Besides cash-and-carry stores, presently we have 83 easyday stores in India, out of which 55 are in Punjab. We target to increase this number to 150 stores by the end of this year,” said Mittal.
The stores are aimed at meeting the regular needs of restaurant owners, hoteliers, caterers, offices, institutions, grocery-shop owners and fruit and vegetable sellers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.
“We have tied up with many local manufacturers from Punjab and we are displaying their products in all Bharti Walmart stores in the country. Some of them include Trident towels, Nijjer foods, Cremica and Dixon televisions that are made in Mohali,” said Jain.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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