French Retail Giant to Enter Indian Market

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May 5 – Europe’s largest retailer, Carrefour S.A, is planning to enter the Indian market through wholesale superstores slated to open later this year.

Indian law does not allow full foreign ownership in the retail business so the company is currently looking for a local partner to open stores under the Carrefour brand. “We have been in discussion for the past months with various groups and I believe that in a few months we will be able to identify that group that will be our partner,” Lars Olofsson, Carrefour’s chief executive officer told shareholders at the annual meeting.

“India is certainly a major consumer market where Carrefour could develop an interesting share,” Olofsson said. The French retail giant is the world’s biggest retailer in terms of revenue after American brand Wal-Mart. It has already expanded into emerging Asian markets like China, Indonesia and Malaysia and the company will launch an additional 22 hypermarkets and 140 discount stores in China alone for 2010.

In India, Carrefour plans to open 150 hypermarkets and is said to be close to signing a partnership with local retailer Future Group according to a Bloomberg report. The country’s restricted retail market only allows up to 51 percent foreign investment in single-brand retailers and requires foreign investors to find a local partner.

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA announced last year that it would postpone plans to enter the Indian market until changes are made to its retail regulations that would allow 100 percent foreign ownership.

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