US-based Walmart, which operates as a wholesaler in India, has announced its plans to add 50 stores to its network of 20 outlets over the next four-five years. Walmart also announced plans of starting an e-commerce platform for its buyers, including restaurants, canteens and kirana stores, through its Best Price Modern Wholesale stores.
“Walmart 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. Along with our growth, we are taking a number of important steps to strengthen compliance so that we do the right thing every day. We are evaluating and reinforcing procedures and programmes relating to all compliance areas, including licensing and permits, food safety and responsible sourcing, among others,” says Scott Price, president & CEO, Walmart Asia.
While the government allowed 51% FDI in multi-brand retail more than a year ago, so far only Tesco has got a green light from the government for a joint venture with the Tata group, while the others such as Walmart and Carrefour are awaiting consensus among political parties.
Analysts said it makes good business sense to focus on the wholesale business. “It shows that Wal-Mart has understood that the cash-and-carry format is a very lucrative model to follow in India since it’s not only devoid of FDI restrictions but many other restrictions as well. As you go deeper into smaller towns, you will find that wholesale markets are not very well developed. Small traders have to travel to bigger cities to shop for their businesses. That’s where Walmart will come in,” observes Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy, Technopak.