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Govt should protect small shopkeepers, bring level playing field: Metro Cash & Carry India CEO

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Asking for a level playing field for six crore small shopkeepers, Metro Cash & Carry India CEO and MD Arvind Mediratta on Friday said the government should look into the deep discounting practices of “top three global retailers”.

According to a PTI report: These global retailers have deep pockets and lost around US$ 6 billion (around Rs 45,000 crore) in the Indian market last financial year as they are selling below cost.

“One of the areas where I would seek intervention from the government to make sure that there is level playing field because some of them (global retailers) have very deep pockets and probably they can sustain losses for probably another 10 years,” he was quoted by PTI as saying.

In next 10 years, a kirana store or small shops selling goods like garments or footwear may not survive, he said.

“We have seen in the other markets also, in the US market, once small retailers disappear, the big retailers suddenly start increasing prices,” Mediratta was quoted by PTI as saying.

Seeking long-term sustainable solutions, Meridatta said these big retailers want profit and are not here for charity.

“They are interested in India because India is a big market. Prices are low, because they are buying market share selling below cost. There are people who are selling sugar at Re 1 per kg from last one year. Is that sustainable? Can kirana stores compete with that?

“So we would request the government to look at level playing field to protect the interests of the small shopkeepers in this country because if they die, if six crore shops are closed, we are going to have massive social problem,” he was quoted by PTI as saying.

There are around six crore shopkeepers in the country, which includes 1.2 crore kiranas and 4.8 crore other shopkeepers, Mediratta said.

“The top three global companies in retail, the total losses incurred by them in last financial year is staggering US$ 6 billion dollars. They lost almost Rs 45,000 crore in the Indian market in the last financial market.

“Retail is one sector where more the losses, higher is the market value. Again I do not know how sustainable it is going to be,” he said.

However, he also complimented the government for bringing demonetisation and GST, saying these steps have stopped malpractices like tax avoidance and also encouraged digital payments.

He also highlighted the challenges faced by the modern retail system, saying still around 35 to 40 licenses are required to open one store, and many of them are required to be renewed annually.

Metro Cash & Carry entered the Indian market in 2003. The company currently operates 27 wholesale distribution centres.

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