Subodh Kant Sahai (right), minister of state for food processing, with Rajan Mittal, MD of Bharti Enterprises, in New Delhi on Monday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha
New Delhi, Dec. 17: Food processing minister Subodh Kant Sahai today said the retail sector would be opened up if a government-commissioned study showed that such a move would not affect small retailers.
India may open up its $330-billion retail market once convinced that kirana stores (small retailers) will not be affected by big retailers, Sahai said at a function organised by Ficci.
He said the department of industrial policy and promotion of the commerce ministry has engaged an agency to study the impact of foreign direct investment in food retail on small stores and the report is expected in March 2008.
It was incorrect to say that organised retail posed a threat to small players, the minister said. The sector can play a key role in transforming Indian agriculture. Kiranawalas are everywhere and they are not being harmed at all," he said.
Sahai said the government's main aim was to provide jobs to farmers, which could happen with the expansion of organised retail.
Bharti Retail is in talks with several real estate firms for space for its retail outlets.
Rajan Mittal, managing director of Bharti Enterprises, said, We are talking to DLF, Unitech, Parsvnath and MGM for retail space.
We could be buying or leasing the property depending on location, he said.
He said the first Bharti Retail store would be opened by the first quarter of next year. Mittal is planning to open the retail stores first up north.
He said it was not decided which state would have the first outlet.
It will depend on economies of scale, he added. The company is planning to go to the friendly states first.