Wal-Mart to open 50 wholesale stores in India in 4-5 years

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New Delhi: Deciding to focus on the cash-and-carry segment in India, retail giant Wal-Mart plans to open 50 wholesale stores in the next four to five years to expand its footprint in the country.

About six months after breaking up with the Bharti group, the Bentonville-based firm said today it is also strengthening compliance procedures following investigations into alleged corruption in its Indian arm.

“Wal-Mart is committed to India and we are excited about our growth plans. We will continue to focus on the cash-and-carry format as we are very happy with the way it has shaped up in the last few years,” Walmart Asia President and CEO Scott Price said in a statement.

He said: “The format is also poised to grow in India and we would like to serve the growing customer base by opening 50 new cash-and-carry stores over the next four-five years and extend the e-commerce platform to our cash-and-carry members with a virtual shopping opportunity.”

The company proposes to invest in its supply chain infrastructure and supplier development but did not share details or plans to enter the multi-brand retail segment in India.

Wal-Mart, which had investigated violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in its Indian arm, is ensuring they are not repeated.

“Along with our growth, we are taking a number of important steps to strengthen compliance so that we do the right thing everyday. We are evaluating and reinforcing procedures and programmes relating to all compliance areas, including licensing and permits, food safety and responsible sourcing, among others,” Price said.

This is the first major announcement by the retailer after it called off a six-year partnership with Bharti Enterprises in October and decided to operate stores independently in India.

The US retail giant agreed to buy out its Indian partner in their 50:50 cash-and-carry joint venture Bharti Wal-Mart, which ran 20 wholesale stores under the Best Price Modern Wholesale brand in India, for an undisclosed sum.

Bharti was to acquire $100 million of compulsorily convertible debentures held by Wal-Mart in Cedar Support Services, a company owned and controlled by the Indian firm. It will continue to run its ‘easyday’ retail stores on its own.

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