India Paves Way for Wal-Mart, Tesco to Enter Market

India approved allowing overseas companies to own as much as 51 percent of retailers selling more than one brand, paving the way for global companies such as Wal- Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Tesco Plc to own stores.

Overseas companies must invest at least $100 million, half of which has to be spent on developing back-end infrastructure, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said in a statement presented to parliament today. India’s cabinet yesterday eased retail ownership rules, including permitting 100 percent foreign holding in single brand stores.

India’s decision to allow overseas ownership in retail will create up to 10 million jobs and give farmers better prices, Sharma said. Wal-Mart,Carrefour SA (CA) and Tesco (TSCO) seek to step up their presence in the world’s second-most populous nation to tap a market estimated by Business Monitor International to double to $785 billion by 2015 from $396 billion this year.

“This is possibly the most exciting thing that has happened in retail in India,” said Hemant Kalbag, who heads the consumer and retail practice for Asia at A.T. Kearney in Mumbai. “This is probably the next big wave of change in organized retail in India.”

Overseas retailers will be required to purchase at least 30 percent of goods sold in the ventures from small industries, Sharma said. Stores will be permitted only in 53 cities with a population of 1 million or more, and the government will retain the first right to buy farm products, he said.

‘Important First Step’

The government’s move is “an important first step,” Wal- Mart Asia President Scott Price said in a statement. The retailer looks forward to “playing a key role” in India.

Asia’s third-biggest economy permitted foreign retailers to own wholesale stores in 1997. Policy makers have been debating ownership rules in retail for at least seven years.

Wal-Mart has set up 14 such stores through a joint venture with billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises to gain a foothold in India, while Metro AG operates six wholesale stores. Carrefour opened its first outlet in December.

“This legal evolution should contribute to modernize Indian food supply chain and to fight against food inflation for the benefit of Indian customers,” Carrefour said in an e-mailed statement. The Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based retailer will wait for final regulations, it said.

India’s decision may prompt expansion of existing joint ventures and trigger acquisitions, said Bryan Roberts, director of retail research at Kantar Retail in London. Still, the size of the opportunity may be “overstated,” he said.

“A lot of retailers have already expanded and found that there’s not enough middle-class shoppers around at the moment,” said Roberts.

‘Win for Consumers’

India’s retail industry will get $8 billion to $10 billion in fresh investments over the next five to 10 years, Kishore Biyani, managing director ofPantaloon Retail India Ltd. (PF), said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Pantaloon, which operates more than 150 Big Bazaar supermarketsacross 90 cities and towns, also has apparel and consumer-electronics outlets.

“It is a big win for consumers as they will have more choices,” said Biyani. “It’s a win for small industries as they will have more retailers creating markets for their products” and farmers will benefit from better prices, he said.

Pantaloon climbed 16 percent, the biggest gain since May 2009, to 233.95 rupees at the close in Mumbai trading. Shoppers Stop Ltd. (SHOP)rose 6.2 percent, and Trent Ltd. (TRENT), Tesco’s India partner, advanced 8.6 percent, the most since August 2010.

The decision to permit foreign retailers came as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s parliamentary ally the Trinamool Congress opposed the proposal. The main federal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was also against the move.

Political Opposition

“Small and medium retailers, which employ a large number of people, will be affected,” Arun Jaitley, a BJP leader, said in New Delhi yesterday. “We oppose it completely.”

Overseas investment in the retail industry may help slow the pace of price gains, Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao said in the northern city of Chandigarh today. “Its important not only for raising overall growth but also important for containing inflation,” said Subbarao.

India’s food inflation accelerated 9.01 percent in the week ended Nov. 12 from a year earlier, the commerce ministry said yesterday. The rate has stayed above 9 percent for 16 weeks.

‘Licking Their Lips’

Raj Jain, president of Wal-Mart India, said in April 2010 the company can help reduce prices by improving supply chain and infrastructure to cut waste. About 40 percent of fruit and vegetables in the country rot before they are sold because of a lack of cold-storage facilities and poor transport infrastructure, according to government estimates.

Bharti-Walmart, the local venture, buys fresh produce directly from about 1,200 farmers in Punjab, in northern India, Jain said in May.

“Foreign retailers must be licking their lips at this opportunity,” said Narayanan Ramaswamy, executive director at KPMG India, which advises retail companies. “It has to be one of the biggest opportunities in the world right now.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net; Malavika Sharma in New Delhi atmsharma52@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Longid at flongid@bloomberg.net

Twist in retail tale: Kiranas partner giants

MICROFINANCE PUSH

IT’S a nagging, almost decade-old doubt that has kept foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail at bay: will the entry of Big Retail hurt the six million kirana stores? As the nation grapples with the question, a series of interesting pilot projects are demonstrating how the giants and the dwarfs can co-exist, and even fuel each other’s growth, thanks to a little help from microfinance institutions (MFIs).

Biggies like Wal-Mart, Metro Cash & Carry and the Future Group have forged partnerships with microfinance and financial institutions to sell merchandise on credit to rural kiranas. The MFIs not only provide credit, but also double up as valuable intermediaries that collect orders from the kiranas, source the merchandise from big retailers and deliver it at the kirana’s doorstep. What’s more, the MFIs do not charge any interest on the credit extended to the kiranas. Instead, they receive a commission from the retailers, for whom this is a small price to pay in order to win new markets and grow faster.

While Metro has been running a pilot with SKS Microfinance in Hyderabad for a few months now, the Future Group has just inked a similar deal with SKS. Bharti Wal-Mart, an equal joint venture, has a partnership with Kotak Mahindra Bank for cards that offer ready credit to the kiranas. RPG-controlled Spencer’s Retail too is keen to explore such opportunities.
If these experiments click, it could enable large retailers to pry open vast rural markets, help kiranas become more efficient in their sourcing, give consumers the benefit of lower prices, and build a thriving retail ecosystem where the lambs can indeed sleep with the lions.

It might also soften the resistance to FDI in retail. If kiranas are empowered to source more effectively, they may be able to co-exist meaningfully with organised retail if and when FDI is opened up. Though foreign retailers are allowed to set up cash-and-carry formats, FDI is not allowed in supermarkets, etc.

“This will open up a completely new rural distribution model and help us in understanding rural consumers,” says Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani. “This is probably the first time the Indian retail sector is targeting the rural market in such a big and strategic way.”

Future Group has started to sell staples, dry groceries and FMCG products through SKS’s network to some kiranas in the North, including a few in the National Capital Region. It also plans to supply its bouquet of private label products through this network. ‘Partnership a win-win one’
IT’S a win-win partnership as we can use our sourcing strength and SKS’s huge network of kirana clients to supply products to them at competitive rates. Eventually, we can include other products as well,” says Biyani.

SKS provides interest-free working capital loan to its kirana clients. The kiranas use this to purchase their inventory from Metro and Future Group at wholesale prices. The loan amounts range from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000. SKS, in return, receives a fixed commission from Metro and Future Group for the total purchases a kirana makes.

“Kiranas access superior quality products at very reasonable prices, delivered right at their store, thereby increasing their productivity,” says SKS Microfinance COO MR Rao. SKS has 2.72 lakh kirana store owners as its customers (4% of its total of 68 lakh members). Industry estimates suggest that only 35% of the 6 million-odd kiranas in India are properly serviced by consumer goods companies and distributors. The remaining 65% is serviced by a multi-layered distribution network that is often inefficient, but still adds a substantial amount to the product cost.

German wholesaler Metro Cash and Carry India plans to scale up its Hyderabad pilot nationally soon. The company is also helping rural kiranas with tips on effective use of working capital and strategies to serve their catchments better. “We could have launched this as part of our CSR programme, but we chose to make it a part of our core business plan as the potential is huge,” says Metro Cash & Carry India director (customer management) Ajay Sheodaan.

Kotak Mahindra and Bharti Wal-Mart have rolled out a “business card” which offers credit to kiranas starting from Rs 8,000. The credit is free of interest for 14 days after the purchase and an interest rate of 1.5% per month is charged after that. Kiranas are now making transactions ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 1 lakh on this card.

Kotak Mahindra Bank executive VP and head (credit cards) Subrat Pani says the customer acceptance for this lowticket working capital funding is growing on a daily basis. “We have around 700 members from Amritsar and Chandigarh. Within six to seven months, we have been able to drive almost 9-10% of the total sales at Bharti Wal-Mart. This could potentially go up to 12% in the next three months,” he says.

Enthused by these initiatives, RPG Group vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka says Spencer’s Retail will also study such possibilities. “Any new model which expands penetration is good for the industry,” he says.

However, Retailers Association of India CEO Kumar Rajagopalan responds cautiously. “The real potential for modern retail lies in the top 100 cities. Some companies may be experimenting on newer models, but we need to see how much business it can generate,” he says.

Rural India: Glitter in times of gloom.

No company can afford to ignore two third of the consumer population pie. However inaccessible they may be and whatever changes may be required in the company’s strategy to attract them. No wonder, the growing power of the rural consumer (accounting for 64 per cent of country’s total consumer base) is forcing Indian blue chips and MNCs to flock to rural markets. Not only FMCG companies but even banks, auto, telecom and retail companies are finding it difficult to keep themselves away from the lure.

Fathom this. Seventy per cent of India’s and 12 per cent of global population lives in rural India and contributes 50 per cent of the country’s GDP. Their population of 75 crore (750 million) is more than that of US, UK, France, Japan, Italy and Germany put together. In fact, as per Mckinsey, despite rising urbanisation, 63 per cent of India’s population will continue to live in the rural areas even in 2025.

Surging ahead in terms of growth

As per National Council of Applied Economic Research, rural market accounts for 55 per cent of LIC [Get Quote] policies, 70 per cent of toilet soap consumption, and 50 per cent of TV, fans, bicycles, tea and wrist watch consumption. So as a target market, it is attractive not only because of the size, but also because of impressive growth potential.

Rural GDP has been witnessing strong growth in the last four years (avg of 4 per cent) not only on the back of increase in minimum support prices for the agri-products but also due to availability of alternative employment opportunities.

Income_Distribution

Income_Distribution

Source: Business Today

In 2008, the rural areas grew at a robust rate of 25 per cent as compared to 10 per cent growth in urban retail market According to a McKinsey, rural India, would become bigger than the total consumer market in countries such as South Korea or Canada in another twenty years. It would grow almost four times from estimated size of $577 bn in 2007. While the per capita income is lower than urban areas, the customer base is thrice that of urban areas.

Resilient to slowdown

On account of negligible tax liability and little or no burden of loan repayments, the Indian rural population has a higher propensity to save. The rural areas account for 33 per cent India’s total savings. Being more conservative than their urban counterparts, the rural populace has not burnt their fingers in the real estate or stock market bust. Further, the rural income distribution pattern is also changing and the bottom is getting narrower.

While 18 per cent of rural India has earnings in the range Rs 45,000 to Rs 215,000 per annum, 58 per cent of urban population earns in this range. However, 27 m individuals form a part of this income bracket in rural areas while in urban areas it is about 29 m; of which large base is already tapped.

No of households (m)

Demographic classification

Urban

Rural

Total

Rich ( income greater than Rs 1 m
per annum)

4.8

1.3

6.1

Well off (income greater than Rs 0.5
m per annum)

29.5

27.4

56.9

Total

34.3

28.7

63.0

% of total

54.4%

45.6%

Source : Ministry of Communications & Information Technology , India

As per the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the rural market is becoming increasingly attractive for FMCG, automobiles and organised retail businesses. Rural India accounts for more than 40 per cent consumption in major FMCG categories such as personal care, fabric care, and hot beverages.

FMCG sector in rural areas is expected to grow by 40 per cent as against 25 per cent in urban areas in the coming quarters. The size of retail market in India is estimated at US$ 280 bn of which the rural retail market works out to be $112 bn. This is expected to double in next 4 to 5 years because of the huge potential. Even auto companies in recent times are witnessing shift in trend as they are gearing to explore the huge market potential lying in the rural areas.

Top 20 cities

Other cities

Rural

Car

23

5

3

Bicycle

37

61

69

Colour Tv

68

47

17

AC

5

3

0

Refrigerator

63

34

8

Computer

8

3

1

Source: Mint

As rural India becomes more lucrative and the government becomes more committed to its development, schemes like the rural employment guarantee, Bharat Nirman, focus on rural education, debt waiver plan and higher support prices will aid the rural demand. Although the penetration levels are still very low, the scope is huge. And India Inc. is not letting go of this opportunity.

Major supermarkets commit to unit pricing roll-out

Australia: The draft unit pricing code was finally launched this week, with major retailers committing to completion of the roll-out by the end of this year.

“Our members including Coles, Woolworths and Franklins have taken the initiative and all plan to have completed a full roll-out of unit pricing  before the year’s end,” said Margy Osmond of the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA).

“We’ve always maintained our preference is for a flexible, cost-effective and nationally consistent scheme and the draft code reflects this.”

Unit pricing is the display of the price of a good per unit of measure and the code will cover advertising, as well as online food sales.

“This is a comprehensive scheme which covers all supermarkets which are over 1000 square metres in size,” said Osmond.

“This is a much better approach than a prescriptive state scheme which would be costly and complicated, with consumers likely to pick up the tab.”

Source: Retailbiz.com

Retailers say Obama stimulus plan not enough

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The largest U.S. retail trade group said current economic stimulus legislation might not do enough to spur consumer spending and repeated its call for a series of temporary sales tax holidays.

The National Retail Federation is “extremely concerned that it does not do enough to immediately stimulate consumer spending or to preserve the tens of millions of jobs that consumer spending supports,” Steve Pfister, the group’s senior vice president, said in a statement on Thursday.

“With consumer spending representing two-thirds of GDP, it is difficult if not impossible to foresee an improvement to overall economic growth until consumers regain confidence and resume spending,” he said in comments that were also sent in a letter to U.S. senators.

The Senate is working to craft legislation for a roughly $800 billion plan promoted by President Barack Obama to stimulate the U.S. economy, which has been in a recession since 2007. Continue reading

Australian Retailers Association call for more Retail stimulus

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the expected interest rate cut of 1.0 percentage point will take three to six months to flow through the economy and is calling on the Federal Government to adopt a range of stimulus measures to accelerate consumer spending.

ARA executive director Richard Evans said the retail market was still suffering from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision to increase cash rates in February / March last year, but another interest rate cut this week indicates our leading financial regulators are now listening to retailers hard hit by months of reduced consumer demand.

“Retailers are beginning to see the benefits of rate cuts from September to December last year but no significant benefit will be felt until March/April.

“We now urgently require a range of alternative stimulus measures to provide consumer confidence and to inject consumer funds back into the economy,” he added. Suggestions include:

. Incentives for new credit card products with lower interest rates for   business and consumers
. Personal income tax relief across the board
. Targeted consumer stimulus package (reimbursement upon receipt of approved payment).

“We now see improved growth to return by September 2009, but the rest of the economy lags three to six months behind the retail sector cycle. This means there may not be good news for other industries until December 2009/January 2010.

“Retailing is the barometer of the economy and although there are signs of emerging consumer confidence the sector needs more stimuli to drive cash and thus save jobs,” Evans said.

Source: Robert Stockdill, Inside Retailing

THE DEVIL IS NOT REALLY IN THE RETAIL.

Rather than depending on policy prescriptions that have been tried before, it is time, we start exploring innovative measures

WHILE the world debated and discussed the $570 billion fiscal stimulus package announced by the Chinese government, few noticed a unique and innovative policy decision from the government across the straits in Taiwan. The Chinese had drawn up a massive bill, largely funded by tax payers’, to be spent by the government itself in boosting the economic activity. Taiwan, on the other hand, decided to give back some money to its citizens to spend by themselves, thereby creating demand for products in local markets, which in turn could boost economic activity and job creation.


Under a new policy announced in December 2008, the island’s 23 million people regardless of age or wealth were given 3,600 Taiwan dollars or around $165 as shopping vouchers. “The programme is aimed at boosting the economy and is expected to contribute to a 0.64% increase in 2009 GDP,” explained Premier Liu Chao-shiuan. Continue reading

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