Even as branded retailers face various protests and some political backlash, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd is stepping up its roll-out plans, and hopes to have about 150 stores in New Delhi and its suburbs, dubbed More, in the next six months, according to a company official and a supplier.

The more the merrier: A More grocery store in New Delhi’s Patel Nagar. Aditya Birla Retail has set a target of about 150 stores in New Delhi and its suburbs in the next six months.

“They plan to open one store a day after January," said one of the persons familiar with the situation, who didn’t want to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The Aditya Birla Group said it wants to invest around Rs8,000-9,000 crore in the retail venture in the next five years and plans to open 1,000 supermarkets and an undecided number of hypermarkets. It currently has about 300 supermarkets countrywide and a hypermarket in Hyderabad.

The conglomerate already has 20 More grocery stores in various localities within the Capital such as Hari Nagar, Pusa Road, Janakpuri, Patel Nagar and Jagatpuri. The firm may add another half a dozen such stores in the Capital in a couple of weeks, said two people familiar with the plans.

Also, the company has leased around 125,000 sq. ft in Parsvnath Developers Ltd’s Metro Mall in the Capital’s Seelampur area to open its hypermarket there and another 15,000 sq. ft in Parsvnath’s mall in Rohini Metro station to open a supermarket there.

A spokesperson for Aditya Birla Group declined to provide any details of More’s expansion. The group’s plans illustrate a continuing surge in retailing despite protests by small retailers and their employees, local bans in some states, including Uttar Pradesh that have affected some chains such as Reliance Fresh and political uncertainty spurred by a long pending study that the government ordered on quantifying the impact of organized retail on so-called mom-and-pop stores.

That study was started in March by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (Icrier) at the behest of the commerce ministry. It stems from a letter that Congress party president Sonia Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office, expressing concern over the seeming impact of multinational retailers on India’s small retailers. It is unclear when Icrier plans to submit its report.

In New Delhi, the group is playing catch-up with Reliance Industries Ltd’s Reliance Retail, which is planning to open around 600 stores in the city and its suburbs in the next three years with hundreds of Reliance Fresh grocery stores, at least two dozen hypermarkets and several other formats, including apparel, shoes, jewellery, health and wellness.

Marketers say New Delhi is the country’s biggest consumer market with an annual market size of about Rs64,039 crore at the end of 2006, compared with Mumbai, the second biggest one, with Rs53,071 crore, according to research group Indicus Analytics.