New Delhi: Global retail giant Walmart is looking to locate nearly half of its 50 stores in the country in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand as it seeks to ramp up operations in the cash-and-carry segment, while also eyeing food retail if the government eases the norms.
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Sources told TOI that Walmart, which currently has 20 stores across the country, is planning as many stores in the two northern states, where BJP recently swept to power. In addition, the US retailer plans to open 10 stores each in Maharashtra (where it currently operates its ‘Best Price outlets in Amravati and Aurangabad), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Walmart is looking at two more stores in Lucknow in addition to Ghaziabad, Noida, Kanpur, Allahabad, Haridwar, Dehradun and Haldwani. With each store providing direct and indirect employment to 2,000-2,500 persons, the company may end up creating over 40,000 jobs in UP and Uttarakhand.
The sources said that retailer, which parted ways with Bharti a few years ago and had put its store expansion on hold for a while, sees enormous opportunity in UP and Uttarakhand where there is little competition from others (such as Metro AG and Reliance) operating in the cash-and-carry format. Cash-and-carry stores are wholesale outlets, which are only allowed to sell to retailers, canteens and hotels.
“Our commitment to the country is very deep and we are growing our footprints in India further by opening 50 more cash-and-carry stores in next few years across key focus states, including AP, Telangana, UP, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Maharashtra etc. Our development team is growing this store pipeline for last couple of years and we’re confident of continuing our contribution to the creation of thousands of skilled jobs, helpings kiranas, farmers & SME suppliers succeed through our cash & carry business,” a Walmart India spokesperson said in response to a questionnaire from TOI.
The 50 new stores will be opened over the next three-to-four years. So far, the company has developed hubs, which are its focus areas. For instance, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Uttarakhand comprise the northern cluster, the second one includes Andhra and Telangana with the third one in Maharashtra.
Walmart is, however, awaiting clarity on the food retail guidelines as it does not want to limit itself to domestically produced and manufactured food products. With the government looking at relaxing the rules, the Walmart spokesperson said: “As we’ve said earlier, allowing 100% FDI in food retail is a very progressive step, but having a certain percentage of non-food items in this policy will make it economically viable.”
TOI Business: March 27, 2017