Carrefour to enter India's vast retail market

27th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

NEW DELHI, Feb 27, 2007 (AFP) - French retailer Carrefour said Tuesday it was in talks with as many as six potential partners to open retail stores in India and could sign a deal soon.

NEW DELHI, Feb 27, 2007 (AFP) - French retailer Carrefour said Tuesday it was in talks with as many as six potential partners to open retail stores in India and could sign a deal soon.

"We are close to signing an agreement. We are in talks with five or six Indian groups," said Dominique Coulombel, India-based sourcing manager for Carrefour. "It is a matter of months."

The comment was the first direct confirmation by Carrefour, after months of press speculation, that it was talking to potential partners in India.

Most of the reports in the Indian business press centered on a possible deal with the Wadia family which owns textile firm Bombay Dyeing.

To counter weakening domestic sales, retailers such as Wal-Mart, France's Carrefour, Germany's Metro and Britain's Tesco have pushed to enter India. Metro already has several wholesale stores in the country.

Earlier this month telecom firm Bharti Enterprises announced plans to set up grocery and consumer goods stores across India in a joint venture with the world's largest retailer, US-based Wal-Mart.

India does not allow foreign investment in retail except for single-brand stores such as Nokia or Nike, and foreign companies have to sign franchise deals with local companies to enter the market.

But Sonia Gandhi, whose Congress party heads the federal coalition government, has called for more study before opening up the vast market to large-scale stores, saying they threaten millions of small shops.

Last week communist activists protested in the Indian capital New Delhi as Wal-Mart's Vice Chairman Michael Duke arrived to meet officials and study the market.

A rapidly-growing affluent middle class estimated to make up as much as a third of India's 1.1 billion population spends an estimated 300 billion dollars annually on shopping.

That figure is expected to double by 2015, according to consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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