Multi-brand FDI to hit kirana shops: Metro boss

02 Jul,2012

By Dipti Jain


It is not just small traders and kirana stores who are worried over loss of business if foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail is allowed. Even international chains such as German retailer Metro Cash & Carry believe that the reform move may impact local businesses.


While the influx of international retail giants will bring in investments in back-end and supply chain management, the Indian arm of Metro Cash & Carry said this will decrease the importance of small traders in the country as consumers would shift to large format stores from the local kirana shops.


“Consumers will shift to large format stores, so the relevance of small traders will decrease. Because of substantial increase in disposable income due to a growing economy, the focus has today shifted from small to large format stores,” said Rajeev Bakshi, managing director, Metro Cash & Carry, India.


The statement by the German company comes as a surprise especially after international chains have been waiting for the opening of FDI in the sector as they reason it would benefit smaller players by way of technological enhancements as well as creation of new jobs, besides giving them an opportunity to tap into the growing retail market in India.


The government and other retailers have argued that the entry will help local outfits get more efficient and innovative and also check wastage as nearly 40 per cent of the farm produce is lost due to poor storage and distribution facilities in the country. Several global giants such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour are waiting for the government to finally permit FDI in the multi-brand segment, an area that Metro does not intend to enter immediately.


In recent weeks, the government has pitched for opening up multi-brand retail and even cited the backing it has received from several states.


The government allowed 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail last year. However, the permission for 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail had to be put on hold after widespread protests by Congressmen as well as UPA allies, including Trinamool Congress.


While the impact on small traders would affect Metro’s business in the country, the company is betting on a growing business from hotels, restaurants and caterers (Horeca) for continued growth. “This will indirectly impact our business, but then the other business takes off. People are eating out much more than before. So our Horeca business will go up. The net effect on us is balanced,” Mr Bakshi said.


However, Mr Bakshi added that it is not just foreign retail majors, even large cash-rich domestic players have the capacity to exploit the market. Despite discussions that modern stores and wholesale chains would make the local channels irrelevant, Mr Bakshi said with the demand pattern shifting, these models are becoming irrelevant themselves. Metro Cash & Carry entered India in 2003 and currently has 11 wholesale distribution centres.


The company has already invested close to Rs1,000 crore and plans to open six to eight stores annually, each entailing an investment of around Rs 60 crore. The company recently opened its store in Delhi and Jaipur and is planning two more stores in Chandigarh and Indore.


Source: The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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