Barcelona: Reliance Industries Ltd is looking for partners in Europe and the United States to help speed up its domestic retail expansion, a senior company official said on Wednesday.
Reliance is launching Indian retail brands ranging from fresh foods to specialty goods and wants to gain the expertise of global brands in areas like technology, said Bijou Kurien, president and chief executive for Lifestyle at Reliance.
“If you look at retailers worldwide, while Europe has been strong on food retailers, North America has been strong on specialty retailers,” Kurien said on the sidelines of a Barcelona retail summit. “There would be several retailers across the world who could add value to our business.”
He declined to comment on media reports that Reliance was in talks with France’s Carrefour or British supermarket owner J. Sainsbury Plc.
Reliance would be interested in partnering with a US specialty retailer, Kurien added.
“Whether it is a technology partnership, whether merely someone who will consult for us, whether its going to be a sourcing partnership, it’s all something we’re willing to consider,” he said.
However, it does not plan to expand beyond India until it has built up its store network and established its brand.
“I think it will take a long, long while before we look at anything international,” Kurien said.
Reliance, already India’s top private oil refiner and petrochemical maker, is spearheading a revolution in Indian organised retail, which only represents about 5% of the retail market, with most stores run by “Mom and Pop” owners.
Launching its retail expansion only last year, the company has 91 fresh vegetable and food stores and expects to start opening hypermarkets in the next three months, with specialty formats following, Kurien said.
It aims to open about 2,000 fresh stores over a five-year period, a large part of them in the next few years.