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Four outlets, $81 million
- German wholesale giant feels first stop will be ready by Puja

German giant Metro Cash & Carry is poised to pump 60 million Euros ($81.38 million) into Calcutta over the next 36 months through four outlets.

“We are extremely bullish on Calcutta and feel the city can easily accommodate four large wholesale hubs,” Heinrich O.E. Birr, vice-president, international affairs, Metro Group, said on Monday.

Metro Cash & Carry, “system leader worldwide in cash-and-carry wholesale distribution, servicing exclusively professional business consumers”, is a part of the Metro Group, supplying channel management in 30 countries, employing 250,000 people.

Birr, in town as part of a German delegation headed by Gerd Muller, parliamentary state secretary in the German ministry of food, agriculture and consumer protection, felt the first stop on the EM Bypass at Mukundapur should be ready before Puja.

“We are hoping the high court will vacate the stay order on construction at the earliest,” said Birr.

The stay order was slapped following a dispute over ownership of the eight-acre plot acquired from the state government and a resultant PIL.

“We have strong faith in the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government and are confident the group can achieve in Calcutta what it has set out to do,” Birr stressed, allaying fears of the recent land versus industry row taking a toll on the German company’s plans.

The Dusseldorf-based group, which notched up sales of 56.4 billion Euros last year, is keen to stay on course in Calcutta. While the second stop would be the 550,000-sq-ft VIP Road mall near Ultadanga, Rajarhat and Howrah are the other likely locations.

“We will extend all the support they need,” state commerce and industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen told Metro on Tuesday evening. Chief minister Bhattacharjee had promised “fast-track clearance” for the Metro Cash & Carry project.

State marketing board chairman Naren Chatterjee, however, maintained that all such companies trading in farm produce need to obtain a licence. “It’s mandatory under the State Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act, 1972. We have extended its jurisdiction to Calcutta and Howrah last week. So, companies trading in farm produce without our licence are carrying out illegal business. We have not issued any licence to Metro Cash & Carry,’’ he said.

Dismissing talk that its entry would hurt the interests of local retailers, Birr stressed the B2B (business-to-business) player can “help them survive and grow by giving them more options under one roof and the most competitive prices”.

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