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Carrefour ends year with just one new store in India

Carrefour is the second-largest retail chain in the world after Walmart

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The euro 81-billion retail chain, the largest in France and second-largest in the world after Walmart, is set to close the year with just one store opening in India.

The group had plans to roll out at least two cash-and-carry or wholesale outlets in the country during the last quarter of this year, a company spokesperson had said in July. Industry sources indicated that the French chain wanted to open around three stores through the year.

The group, which has three cash-and-carry outlets in the country, opened a store in New Delhi, its first in India, in December 2010, followed by one in Jaipur in late 2011 and the third in Meerut in October 2012.

Company  Year of first
store in India
Total no of
India stores
 Opened in 2012
Bharti Walmart 2009 20 5
Metro 2003 14 5
Carrefour  2010 3 1
Source: Companies      

Cash-and-carry involves selling to businesses, educational institutions, offices and hotels, but not to individuals in the retail market.

Carrefour did not reply to a questionnaire sent by Business Standard on its India rollout plan, both in cash-and-carry and front-end multi-brand retail. While there is no foreign investment cap for the cash-and-carry format, the Cabinet, in September, permitted up to 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail too. Carrefour is yet to announce its Indian partner for multi-brand retail and its country-specific rollout plan.

In the midst of a weak economy back home, the French chain has had to review many of its overseas businesses this year. Recently, it decided to sell 60 per cent stake in its Indonesian unit to local partner, CT Corp. Carrefour also sold its Malaysian unit to Aeon Co. There have been reports of it exiting the Singapore market too.

Its Turkish and Polish businesses are also reportedly under review. All this is a part of the three-year turnaround plan announced by Carrefour Chief executive Officer a few months ago, aimed at reducing debt and generating cash.

In India, the other two international retail chains that operate cash-and-carry businesses have a far larger numbers of outlets in the country. American chain Walmart, which has a 50-50 joint venture with Bharti Enterprises, set up its first store in India in 2009 and now has a total of 20. Bharti opened five outlets in the country this year.

Germany’s Metro, another cash-and-carry major, started off in 2003 in India, and has 14 outlets in all. Like Bharti Walmart, Metro too opened five stores in 2012.

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