Bharti Retail Ltd is in talks with a local pharmacy chain for managing pharmacy counters at the company’s soon to launch supermarkets and hypermarkets.
“All other things are in-house... But, for pharmacy, we will probably have a tie-up and that is work-in-progress,” said Rajan Bharti Mittal, managing director of Bharti Enterprises while declining to name the potential partner. “That (announcement) will happen as we unveil the stores. I don’t think so there are many pan-India kind of brands. So, you tend to pick up a partner at the end of the day who grows with us or you pick up two or three.”
Vishal Mishra, head of marketing for pharma retailer Fortis HealthWorld Ltd, said it is in talks with a lot of companies for a tie-up but declined to name the firms, saying it was “too preliminary to do so”.
Bharti is planning to roll out its convenience store format, shops with floor space ranging between 2,000 sq. ft and 5,000 sq. ft, by August in north India. The company is expected to announce next month the roll-out plans for other formats, including supermarkets ranging between 30,000 sq. ft and 50,000 sq. ft, and hypermarkets with floor space of between 75,000 sq. ft and 125,000 sq. ft.
Partner hunt: Bharti managing director Rajan Bharti Mittal ( Sanjay Sharma / Mint)
Bharti Retail, a fully owned subsidiary of India’s biggest wireless phone service provider, Bharti Enterprises, plans to invest up to $2.5 billion to open stores nationwide spreading over 10 million sq. ft by 2015.
The pharmacy stores will be in the slightly larger stores because “if you have a pharmacy, you need 24 (hours) license ..in the smaller stores you don’t have the luxury where you have two exits where one set can be open at night, but for the larger stores’’ that’s not an issue, said Mittal.
Over 3,000 new drug retail stores will be set up by companies such as Fortis HealthWorld, Apollo Pharmacy, Morepen Laboratories Ltd and Manipal Cure and Care over the next five years in the domestic drug segment.
There are also new entrants in the market such as H&B Stores Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dabur India Ltd, which will set up stores under the brand ‘new-u’ and the proposed chain of stores from All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists—the traditional players in this highly fragmented market.
Organized retail is relatively new to India, where everything from shoes to medicines is still sold mostly through single-outlet family-owned shops that have been serving the same neighbourhood for generations.
Bharti also plans to deliver to homes. Its small-format stores will home deliver goods to consumers, said Mittal.
“Eventually you will have to,” said Mittal. “We may not begin with but we will end up doing that.”
In a separate venture, Bharti is partnering with the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in a wholesale entity selling everything from food to furniture to other retailers and businesses.
Wal-Mart will also assist Bharti with technology and logistics in running the Indian company’s fully owned yet-to-be-named stores selling to the country’s burgeoningconsumers.
(Bhuma Srivastava contributed to this story.)