Bharti-Wal-Mart outlet by March 2008

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Bharti Retail, a unit of Bharti Enterprises, which has a tieup with top American retailer, Wal-Mart, plans to open its first outlet by March 2008 and has drawn up plans for recruiting 60,000 personnel nationwide and provide them training, its Managing Director Rajan Bharti Mittal said Monday.

However, he admitted that the rising prices of real estate was a cause of concern for the retail sector but “it can be overcome.”

Talking to reporters ahead of the two-day conference on ‘Winning with Intelligent Supply Chains,” being organized by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), he sought to ally the apprehension of those opposed to the entry of corporate houses into organized retail stating “everybody can co-exist” and that the smaller shops would continue to do business.

“We are confident that corner stores would survive as their entrepreneurial skills is much more than the big stores,” Mittal, who is Chairman of FICCI Retail Committee, said.

Asserting that retail has come to stay in the country, Mittal said “it is a long haul for the organized retail but business models will change with the coming of retail. The population is getting younger and the spirit of entrepreneurship will continue to grow.”

The Conference to be held on December 17 and 18, he said would provide a forum for leading retailers to discuss the critical issue of supply chain which was crucial for the retail sector.

He said “the inputs from this conference would be taken to centres which we (FICCI) intend to open so as to transfer knowledge of retail and other aspects to the rural areas.”

To a question on the opposition to retail in the country in the context of attack on Reliance retail outlets in several states like Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh forcing it to shut them, he said “we have to educate those against retail. We are a evolving nation and there is a long haul for retail.”

However, Bharati felt that what was imperative for the retail sector specially those in the food and grocery business was the need to have a cold chain network so that vegetables and fruits remained fresh over a long haul.

“Within six hours on the shelf these (fruits and vegetables) get spoilt without cold storage facilities. Many European companies are ready to setup shop in India. The government should reconsider changes in policy towards this industry,” Mittal said.

With organized retail sector in the country expected to touch about US$ 500 billion by 2010, Mittal stressed on the need to have a supply chain that would ensure fresh fruits and vegetables reach the retail outlets without rotting.

Sri Krishna

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