Metro Cash & Carry bags APMC licence in Bengal

October 10th, 2008 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Oct 10 (IANS) With ruling Left Front partner Forward Bloc relenting, Metro Cash & Carry India, the Indian arm of German wholesaler Metro AG, was Friday granted licence to sell farm commodities and other food items to hotels, restaurants, provision stores and other institutional buyers in West Bengal.A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining the conditions for Metro’s operations was inked between the company officials and the state agriculture marketing board chief Naren Chatterjee at the state secretariat, Writers’ Buildings here.

“We are delighted that we have received our APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee) licence as it is crucial to our business model,” Frits van Peski, member of the Executive Board of Directors, Metro Cash & Carry India, said in a statement.

Forward Bloc, which controls agriculture and agricultural marketing departments in the state and also heads the licensing authority State Agriculture Marketing Board, had earlier opposed renewal of the licence to Metro Cash & Carry India, but relented after pressure from front allies including major partner Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

Peski thanked Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Agriculture, Consumer Affairs and Agri Marketing Departments Minister Naren De, and Chatterjee for facilitating the renewal.

According to the MoU, Metro would have to pay one percent transaction fee on every purchase and sale executed by the company. It would not be allowed to do contract farming of any agriculture produce and livestock and every vendor of farm produce would have to be registered with the state marketing department.

“We are keen to start our operations to demonstrate the benefits of our unique business-to-business concept to our customers in Kolkata”, said Martin Dlouhy, managing director of Metro Cash & Carry India. “We have approximately 350 trained local employees eager to serve our registered professional business customers. We should have the outlet fully up and running in six to eight weeks.”

This store will be Metro’s fifth outlet in India. Of their other four, two are in Bangalore and one each in Hyderabad and Mumbai, where various small and medium businesses like kirana retail stores, hotels and restaurants have partnered the whole seller.

The German company started the project of constructing this 100,000 sq ft outlet for an investment of $30 million in Eastern Metropolitan Bypass couple of years back. The entire project got delayed due to land disputes.

After eight months of legal battle between the state government and the previous owner of the land, the company finally got permission to resume construction of its first store in the city and started work last November.

The state government granted a licence to trade in APMC commodities in 2005, which was subsequently renewed twice in 2006 and 2007 and was to be valid till March 2008.

However, in June 2007 the licence was unilaterally withdrawn by the APMC authorities. The company filed for issuance of fresh APMC licence in March 2008.

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