Bharti to launch retail venture early next year in north India

Bhartitolaunchretail venture early next year in north India

New Delhi: The holding company of the Bharti group,Bharti Enterprises Ltd, will kick-start its retail business with small grocery stores in northern India early next year, becoming one of the many Indian business groups to roll out stores in the country’s promising modern retail market.

“We will start with small stores... followed by medium and large stores," said Rajan Bharti Mittal, who is spearheading the company’s retail entry. Mittal declined to name the city where the first of the company’s stores will be based. He also declined to reveal the number of stores the company is planning to open.

Last month, Bharti Retail Ltd hired Dippankar Halder from Wadhawan Food Retail Pvt. Ltd to head its neighbourhood store format.

Separately, Bharti has formed a 50:50 joint venture with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to open more than a dozen hypermarkets in the next five years that will sell multiple products only to retailers and various other businesses. Indian laws bar foreign retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour SA from investing in ventures in the country that sell multiple products to consumers. However, global retailers are allowed 100% ownership in cash-and-carry or wholesale ventures that sell to other businesses.

Last month, Carrefour also announced setting up a wholly owned cash-and-carry subsidiary in the country even as it is talking to three potential Indian partners to run the French retailer’s franchisee stores in India.

Mittal said the Bharti-Wal-Mart alliance will also roll out its first cash-and-carry store in northern India, but will open only in the third quarter of next year.

Bharti will step into India’s modern retail market that is set to grow to $165 billion (Rs6.5 trillion) in sales in the next 10 years. However, the fledgling sector is being opposed by everyone from poor farmers to powerful politicians. Small traders believe that the expansion of the modern retailers will happen at the cost of their business.