Mumbai: French retailer Carrefour is in talks with Indian companies for a partnership and expects to start its business in India with cash-and-carry activities, the company told Reuters.
The world’s second largest retailer, however, declined to give names of the companies it is negotiating with and also did not confirm whether it was in talks with Future Group, which runs Pantaloon Retail, India’s largest listed retailer.
“Carrefour and some Indian companies have been discussing partnerships but we do not want to comment on any of the company we have been talking to,” Carrefour said in a emailed statement to Reuters.
Indian media has speculated on a tie-up between Pantaloon and Carrefour to launch franchise stores in India. Earlier this week, Future Group chief executive Kishore Biyani told Reuters that his company was in talks with several overseas retailers but declined to specify whether Carrefour was one of them.
Indian regulations do not allow foreign direct investment by multi-brand retailers although they can come in through franchise agreements with local players.
Foreign retailers are allowed to invest up to 51% in single-brand retail and 100% in cash-and-carry ventures.
India’s robust economic growth at more than 7% and its burgeoning middle-class with greater spending power are magnets for foreign retailers who are facing declining demand in their home markets.
The Indian retail market is estimated to be worth about $450 billion, of which organised retail with a share of 6% is growing at more than 20%.
Cash and Carry
The restrictions on foreign investments in retail have left overseas players with no choice but to enter the Indian market with domestic partners, or set up cash and carry ventures.
“Carrefour will develop its activities in India with the start of cash & carry activities in 2010,” the company said.
The French firm has set up two entities in India — Carrefour WC&C India Pvt Ltd to carry on cash and carry business and Carrefour Master Franchise Company Pvt Ltd for its retail business.
Carrefour, which has been scouting the Indian market for nearly seven years, has been meeting local vendors and suppliers to finalise sourcing arrangements for food and non-food items.
The company already sources supplies worth about $2 billion from India, according to industry estimates.
Wal-Mart, which has a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises has set up its cash-and-carry store in north India while Germany’s Metro AG operates around five cash-and-carry stores in the country.