Wal-Mart deepens India focus

Wal-Mart deepens India focus

Author | Source: The Economic Times | Monday, Aug 14,2006 8:28 AM

Wal-Mart deepens India focus

Wal-Mart is becoming more serious about its India game plans. The retail behemoth, which has decided to pull out of German and South Korea markets to concentrate on core markets, has identified China and India as its future growth drivers.

As the Arkansas headquarters of Wal-Mart gears up to fine-tune its India entry plans, Amy Wyatt, international corporate affairs spokesperson, Wal-Mart Stores, confirmed the development to ET.

In an email interview, Ms Wyatt said: "The divestitures will allow us to focus on our core markets and to search for new opportunities in growing consumer markets such as India. It will enable us to improve the overall financial position of our international business and focus on our continued growth."

This comes in the wake of Wal-Mart getting the Union government approval to set-up a liaison office in Bangalore. The company will undertake its Indian market research from here.

While India and China have been identified as the future growth drivers for the company, the core markets identified are the countries of Latin America, Central America, Mexico, Japan, Canada and the UK. "Certainly China is one of the markets where we will focus on continued growth. We have plans to open 20 new stores in China this year.

India is an emerging retail market, in which also we have a high interest," Ms Wyatt said Incidentally, Wal-Mart had announced its plans to exit Germany about a fortnight back and South Korea in May this year. Retail industry analysts have acclaimed Wal-Mart's move to quit these markets.

Love Goel, chairman & CEO, Growth Ventures Group, an US-based investment firm with interests in the retail sector, told ET from Minnesota in US: "Wal-Mart has made a brilliant move to withdraw from Germany and Korea to focus on India. The Indian market is much less competitive than Germany and Korea and its middle class is hungry for modern retailing practices and products sold by western retailers like Wal-Mart."

However, Ms Wyatt refused to comment on several rumours in the market about Wal-Mart entering into partnership with an Indian company. "We are still in the research phase in India and monitoring the Indian government's policy on FDI," she said.

Recent reports in the Indian media have, however, suggested that Wal-Mart has initiated discussions with companies like DLF, Bharti, Mahindra & Mahindra and Reliance Industries for possible tie-ups. Ms Wyatt, however, did not confirm this.

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