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Sharma to meet heads of global retail chains

June 24, 2013 10:29 IST

Anand SharmaThe list of international retail chains invited for an open house with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma this Thursday seems to suggest there are at least four more American groups, apart from Walmart, that have shown interest in the Indian market.

Also, from Germany, there are two others, besides the already present Metro Cash & Carry, which might have made enquiries on the Indian retail business.

For a meeting called by Sharma to clarify issues related to the multi-brand retail policy, announced in September 2012, heads of 11 foreign chains and 10 Indian companies have been sent the invites, it is learnt.

The $90-billion American grocery chain The Kroger Company is among those called for discussions on the policy, which permits up to 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

Traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Kroger has 3,000 stores in the US. Another American group, Costco Wholesale Corporation, a membership-only warehouse club, is expected to send a representative for the meeting.

Listed on Nasdaq, Costco, a competitor to Walmart’s Sam’s Club, operates 600 stores across the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

The other two American chains, not present in India but invited, are Walgreens or The Walgreen Company, the largest drug retailing group in the US, and The Home Depot, which is into home improvement and construction products and services.

With its shares traded on NYSE and Nasdaq, the $71-billion Walgreens runs 8,000 drugstores in America.

The NYSE-listed $70-billion Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the US.

Schwarz and Aldi are the German retailers invited. Schwarz Unternehmens Treuhand, a privately held global discount supermarket chain with revenue of Euro60 billion, operates 10,000 stores across Europe.

Aldi is a close competitor with revenues of Euro53 billion.

Representatives of French supermarket chain Auchan, in India through a franchise tie-up with Max Hypermarkets, are likely to be present at the Thursday meeting as well.

It could not be independently verified with these chains on whether they had received the ministry letter or if they were keen to invest in India.

Even nine months after the policy was cleared by the union cabinet, not a single FDI proposal has come to the government so far.

That, perhaps, has prompted the government to invite even those who have shown some kind of interest in the Indian retail space, a source pointed out.

Other than the new names, the world’s largest retailer US-based Walmart, French chain Carrefour, the UK’s Tesco and German major Metro -- already present in India either as wholesale players or as franchise partners for backend -- have got the invite.

The Indian companies that have been called are Pantaloon, Raheja Group, Tatas, RPG, Landmark, Piramal, Subhiksha, Bharti Walmart, Reliance Retail and the Aditya Birla Group.

Image: Anand Sharma

Nivedita Mookerji in New Delhi