Bharti puts state on Wal-Mart map

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 2.12.06

Calcutta, Dec. 2: The retail chain of Bharti Enterprises, which has entered into a joint venture with Wal-Mart, will cover Bengal, too.

“This is my third visit in the last three months to the city, which shows the interest the region and the state has invoked. West Bengal is very much part of our plans for the back-end operations for our retail venture. The state would be part of our national roll-out plan, for which the investment amount and the exact location of stores and back-end linkages are currently being finalised,” said Sunil Mittal, the chairman of Bharti Group.

Wal-Mart would only be involved in cold chain and storage, cash-and-carry and other such supply chain logistics.

Asked if Wal-Mart would be welcomed into the state, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was non-committal. “They have just made a pact, let them take decisions first and then we shall see,” he said.

A day after Bharti announced its joint venture with Wal-Mart, the CPM had claimed that it violates investment guidelines.

Mittal, who was in the city to attend a seminar organised by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and the Consular Corps of Calcutta, asked if Metro can have cash-and-carry operations here, why not Wal-Mart.

“For a state like Bengal, which has tremendous potential in fruit and vegetable cultivation, processing is the need of the hour to make the state on a par with other food-producing nations of the world. The next generation of green revolution would entail enabling government policies to put up distribution centres and cold chain and tracking linkages,” Mittal added.

The UPA has allowed 100 per cent FDI in warehousing (cold storage) and wholesale trade, besides single-brand retail. Under the NDA regime, 100 per cent FDI was allowed in cash-and-carry trade.

“We seek support from the government for our project,” Mittal said.

Proper implementation of organised retail and back-end operations and the creation of an eco system will “empower a lot of people”, he pointed out. “The mom and pop stores would be offered great opportunities and would hopefully take decisions with an eye to the future.”

Mittal clarified that he was not looking at contract farming opportunities.