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More stores on Walmart menu

Mumbai, April 8: Wal-Mart Stores Inc plans to open 50 more wholesale outlets in the country in the next four to five years and launch online operations to sell to small traders.

The world’s largest retailer already runs 20 such stores in India, which sell directly to retailers as opposed to consumers.

“Walmart is committed to India and we are excited about our growth plans. We will continue to focus on the cash-and-carry format as we are very happy with the way it has shaped up in the last few years,” Scott Price, Walmart Asia president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Walmart’s growth in India has been slowed by an internal bribery probe, uncertainty over regulations on foreign investment in the country, and in October, the severing of its partnership with New Delhi-based Bharti Enterprises.

The Bentonville-based company today said it was also strengthening compliance procedures following the investigations in its Indian arm.

“We are taking a number of steps to strengthen compliance so that we do the right thing everyday,” Price said.

“We are evaluating and reinforcing procedures and programmes relating to all compliance areas, including licensing and permits, food safety and responsible sourcing.”

India allows full foreign ownership in wholesale stores and under a 2012 law change, allows up to 51 per cent foreign ownership in supermarkets.

Walmart, which had been the most vocal foreign advocate for opening up India’s large but fragmented retail industry, has not yet applied to open retail stores in the country.

In 2013, Walmart did not open a single wholesale outlet in India despite plans to open eight during the year.

A company executive in India said the first of the new outlets among the 50 would open soon in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

The executive, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the online business would be started on a wholesale basis and goods would be sold to traders on a “very small” scale.

India does not allow foreign retailers to sell goods online directly to consumers.

Sources at Walmart have said they are waiting for the general elections to finish in May before applying to operate retail stores in India in case the rule allowing direct investment in supermarkets is overturned by the new government.

ON AGENDA

  • Walmart to open 50 more wholesale outlets in 4-5 years
  • First outlets to come up in Maharashtra and AP
  • Walmart will launch online operations to sell to small traders
  • It is strengthening compliance procedures following probes in India

 
 
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