Metro Cash & Carry Pvt Ltd, the Indian arm of German retailer Metro AG, could end up opening its Mumbai store before it does its Kolkata one because of a legal tangle over the ownership of the land on which the latter is to come up, according to a company executive. Metro had initially planned to launch its Kolkata store next month.
The company had moved the Calcutta high court, hoping that it would vacate an injunction by the Alipore civil court stalling construction of its first store in Kolkata.
However, the high court has sent the case back to the lower court, and it is not clear how long the legal proceedings will take. “We are hopeful of a fair judgement from the court (and hope) to launch the first Kolkata outlet at the earliest,” said Marcus Dichtl, director (finance and administration), Metro. The company executive, who did not wish to be named, said there was a good possibility that the Mumbai store, scheduled to open in the first half of November, would open before the Kolkata one.
Like other Metro stores in Bangalore and Hyderabad, the Mumbai store will occupy 100,000 sq. ft of space. It will be part of a mall called Neptune Living Point, coming up at Bhandup.
Dichtl also said the company was looking at alternative locations in Kolkata where it planned three stores. Another executive at the company said Metro had already acquired a property at Howrah on the northern fringe of Kolkata and was in the process of completing a deal to acquire another site in Taratola, to the west of the city. However, Metro spokesperson Manish Bhargava refused to discuss any property acquisitions in Kolkata.
Litigation over the ownership of the land on which the store is being set up has been going on for 45 years now. In India, civil disputes over land can sometimes span decades.
The company had leased the land from the West Bengal government, but the government’s pleas in the courts have not been successful in freeing Metro from the legal wrangles.