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The Goliath cometh

Bharti-Wal-Mart is moving cautiously, but it’s been tying up its loose ends—or rather the back-end.

Tejeesh N.S. Behl        Print Edition: June 15, 2008

The most hyped joint venture in India’s retail industry, between Bharti and Wal-Mart, has also been the most awaited. The duo came together in 2006 and got into a JV in August 2007 for a cash and carry format; till date only the Indian partner has something to show for its efforts—Bharti Retail has put up three Easy Day stores in Ludhiana, the neighbourhood store format (spread over (2,500-4,500 sq. ft).

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Easy Day will also be opened in two other formats—medium or supermarket (25,000 sq. ft-45,000 sq. ft) and large or hypermarket (75,000 sq. ft-100,000 sq. ft). These will retail day-to-day family products.

As for Wal-Mart, its cash and carry B2B stores will make their India debut sometime in 2009. To be fair though, establishing a back-end supply chain is a time-consuming task. Bharti Retail is now open to partnering with local store owners on a franchise basis, possibly to catch up with the other established players who have raced ahead with stores in every nook and cranny of India’s cities.

According to a Bharti-Wal-Mart spokesperson, Wal-Mart’s cash and carry formats are under development— and even then, it does not intend to rush into the market. The next seven years, for instance, will see just 10-15 stores opened under the cash and carry JV—concentrated largely in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities across northern India, especially Punjab. The Wal-Mart B2B stores will have a maximum area of 100,000 sq. ft.

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