New Delhi/Bengaluru: Almost a year into writing a $16 billion cheque for Flipkart, Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon Tuesday said the US retail firm continues to be committed to the Indian market given the huge opportunity that the country presents. McMillon, who is on a two-day trip to Bengaluru, also highlighted that a level-playing field is important to ensure growth for businesses operating in the country.
McMillon was accompanied by Walmart EVP (corporate affairs) Dan Bartlett and EVP and Regional CEO (Asia and Canada) Dirk Van den Berghe. The executives also met the leadership of Walmart India, Walmart Global Sourcing and Walmart Labs.
McMillon addressed employees in a townhall, where he was asked a range of questions.
According to people of the developments at the townhall, McMillon expressed satisfaction at the progress made by Flipkart and said Walmart is aggressive on the Indian market given the size of the opportunity.
Asked about the recent regulatory challenges in the Indian market, McMillon said Walmart has operations across multiple countries and complies with local laws in individual markets but asserted that a level-playing field is important and that is what businesses seek.
The government had tightened norms for e-commerce firms with foreign investment with effect from 1 February.
These regulations barred online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon from selling products of companies where they hold stakes and banned exclusive marketing arrangements that could influence product price. A separate e-commerce policy is also in the works.
Walmart had earlier said that it was disappointed with the changes but hoped for a collaborative regulatory process that results in a level playing field, going forward.
McMillon lauded the efforts of Flipkart for the progress made in taking online shopping to millions of new customers in India. McMillon also asserted that Flipkart should maintain its leadership position in the Indian market.
According to Flipkart Group chief corporate affairs officer Rajneesh Kumar, McMillon is in India for an internal business trip. "As part of the trip, he interacted with Flipkart's leadership team and employees. He is delighted with the progress the team is making to take e-commerce to next 200-300 millions customers in India, and bring a great selection through right affordability construct to consumers in the country," he said.
McMillon also commended Flipkart Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy, PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam and the team for their role in leveraging technology and innovation for solving challenges in India's digital commerce.
Krishnamurthy said Walmart's long-term, strategic partnership with Flipkart was immensely valued by everyone.
McMillon is visiting India at a time when Flipkart and Amazon are locked in a battle to dominate the Indian e-commerce industry.
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani has also announced ambitious plans of an e-commerce platform to tap into the country's online retail segment that is forecast to touch $200 billion in the next few years.