New Delhi: US retailer Wal-Mart is known for selling anything from pharmaceuticals to guns back home, but its Indian partner Bharti could be stocking its shelves with everything from groceries to insurance products.
Bharti Enterprises, which has interests in telecom and insurance sectors, is looking at servicing end customers of the group’s various activities under a single roof once the stores are opened next year.
“There is definitely a thinking to synergise activities of group companies, which relates to direct interaction with customers,” Bharti Retail head Vinod Sawhny said.
Asked if drawing synergies between group companies would mean sales and distribution channels such as that of Bharti Airtel finding a space under the retail umbrella, he said it was a possibility.
“Not only the telecom services, but the group also has interest in life insurance and there is a possibility that these facilities are made available to customers through our retail channel,” Sawhny added.
At present, Bharti Airtel has a sales and distribution network with over 4.9 lakh outlets across the country. If things go as planned, many of them could be moving into Bharti Retail’s outlets.
Similarly, the retail venture could also provide an ideal platform for the group’s life insurance business Bharti Axa Life, which is aiming to be volumes player.
“We aim to be a mass market player with a multi-channel distribution network,” Bharti Axa Life Insurance CEO Nitin Chopra said.
On February 19, Bharti Retail said it planned to invest up to $2.5 billion (over Rs 11,000 crore) by 2015 and said it will open its maiden store in first quarter of 2008.
The company is looking at hypermarkets and supermarkets to be owned by it while the smaller convenience stores are planned to be run on a franchise model.
It is expected that the current last mile distribution such as that of Airtel mobile recharge cards, currently available through most of neighbourhood stores, could be channelised through the Bharti Retail’s convenience stores, while Airtel Relationship Centres may find space in the bigger format stores.