Woolworths may expand into India

July 15th, 2008 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, July 15 (IANS) Retailing giant Woolworths Ltd may soon be planning to expand into India, according to a report in the Fairfax newspaper published Tuesday. To maintain its profit growth, Woolworths must look overseas for acquisitions and considers India as a possible market for expansion, Citi analyst Craig Woolford told the Fairfax group, publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

With diminishing demand in New Zealand and increasing scrutiny by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into grocery prices, the company’s focus may move to India, Woolford told the Fairfax newspapers.

Indian retail sector is projected to double from its current $35 billion in sales over the next eight years.

“Woolworths has a wholesale consumer electronics business as part of a joint venture with Tata, one of India’s largest companies. But it could easily expand this by moving into groceries and general merchandise,” Woodford added.

Woolworths, which operates retail formats as varied as supermarkets, convenience stores, liquor, petrol, general merchandise and consumer electronics, among others, has more than 3,000 stores and 180,000 employees across Australia and New Zealand.

In India, it has the electronics joint venture, Infiniti Retail Group, which is expected to open 40 stores under the Chroma brand by 2010.

According to the Fairfax newspapers, Infiniti’s chief executive Ajit Joshi had last year hinted at a possible expansion to include groceries and a Big W-style general merchandise retail.

However, a media spokesperson for Woolworths told IANS “the media reports are highly speculative and (that) the company will not be making any comment on the reports”.

Geoff Hiscock, Australian author of ‘India’s Global Wealth Club: The Stunning Rise of its Billionaires and the Secrets of their Success’, and who has just completed his second book focusing on the “most prospective” retail sector in India, told IANS opportunities for Australian companies are immense although the big relationship will start to happen in only in the next five to 10 years.

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