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Walmart plans Indian expansion

Davos: Walmart, the world’s largest retailer plans to enter India if the government were to allow foreign investment in the sector, sees a role for itself in keeping food prices in check. “We have a plan through our tie-up with Bharti Enterprises to link up with 35,000 small farmers by 2015 to supply our cash-and-cash and Bharti’s retail outlets. Once we have our own retail operations, we would invest billions of dollars in logistics and cold chain infrastructure,” Doug McMillon, president of Walmart International said at the World Economic Forum’s summit.

McMillon said permitting large retail chains would help address food inflation while benefiting farmers in India. Walmart also allayed fears that allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retailing would squeeze the local grocer out of business. India permits FDI in single-brand stores and cash-and-carry outlets that sell to only to retailers and businesses. Giving Mexico’s example, McMillon said, “We entered in 1991. Even after 20 years, 50% of retailing there is done informally.”

Walmart now runs six cash-and-carry wholesale outlets in India under the “Best Price” label, while Bharti Enterprises has around 100 of its independent ‘Easy Day’ retail food and grocery stores.