France's Carrefour announces first wholesale outlet in India

11th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

French supermarket giant Carrefour, the world's second largest retailer, said Tuesday that it would soon open its first wholesale store in India, without a local partner.

Carrefour has been trying to break into India's 500 billion dollar retail sector for years and hopes the wholesale outlet in New Delhi will lead to a string of hypermarkets for consumers in the rapidly developing country.

"We are starting our 'cash and carry' business in India as the government allows 100 percent foreign investment in this segment," Jean Noel Bironneau, general manager of Carrefour India, told reporters.

"So far FDI (foreign direct investment) is not relaxed for us to launch a hypermarket," he said. "The market in India is booming but we have to be cautious and have decided to start with our 'cash and carry' business first."

Bironneau said the first wholesale store would be 5,500 square metres (60,000 square feet) and would open in New Delhi "in a few weeks".

India's tight foreign investment rules allow no overseas chains in the retail sector -- except for single-brand outlets such as Nokia or Reebok -- to protect local retailers.

Foreign groups such as Wal-Mart or Carrefour can only be wholesalers. Wal-Mart has teamed up with India's Bharti telecoms group and Britain's Tesco has an alliance with the Indian tea-to-steel Tata Group.

Carrefour has been consistently linked to India's Future Value Retail, a unit of Pantaloon Retail run by businessman Kishore Biyani, and said on May 4 that it was still on the lookout for a partner.

"We are keen to open hypermarkets and are open to partnerships. We are also looking at giving out franchisees in India," Bironneau said at the launch of a Carrefour greenhouse nurseries project at a farm outside Delhi.

The wholesale store in Delhi will source 90 percent of its products from within the country and employ 300 people, Bironneau said.

© 2010 AFP

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