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    Carrefour is here

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    , the world’s second largest retailer, will enter India’s $330 billion retail market by 2009, for which it is talking to three potential local partners.

    Reliable sources told Indiaretailing that the French retailer is in advance talks with , and for India operations.

    The Dubai-based Landmark Group recently tied up with Spar, one of the world’s largest independent food retail chains, for its Indian foray. However, officials at these companies declined to comment on any developments. The sources added that “an official announcement from Carrefour is expected very soon.”

    Carrefour India Projects General Manager Gerard Freiszmuth said: “Initially, we were talking to five Indian potential partners and now have zeroed in on three parties – a conglomerate, a retailer, and a financial institution – from which we will choose one.” He said this without naming any of them.

    The French firm, which has already made a soft launch of its cash-and-carry business, will keep the latter’s identity separate from the retail venture to conform to Indian laws. “We have incorporated two companies – Carrefour WC&C India Pvt. Ltd for our wholesale cash-and-carry, and Carrefour Master Franchise Company Pvt. Ltd for retail business,” said Carrefour Group (India) Managing Director Herve Clec’h.

    Describing its plans, Herve Clec’h explained further: “An Indian franchisee will open Carrefour brand hypermarkets in the country and Carrefour’s 100 per cent-owned cash-and-carry stores will feed them.”

    Interestingly, Carrefour was initially in talks with for a joint venture in India, but Wal-Mart managed to beat the French firm, as it did in China, when it outbid Carrefour for China’s top retailer, Trust Mart. Carrefour, Wal-Mart and Britain’s are engaged in a three-way battle for dominance in the global hypermarket industry.

    In April, Carrefour said it had put on hold plans to invest in India due to concerns over domestic political opposition to multinational retailers, saying it was seeking more clarity on the situation.

    Neither the government’s dithering on allowing foreign direct investment into the country nor the organised versus the unorganised stunts are stopping the foreign retailers to get a slice of the Indian retail pie, it seems.

    – Vishnu Rageev R, Bengaluru Bureau