x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Retail giant Auchan mulls Indian venture with Landmark

Landmark Group, one of the biggest retail group's in the Middle East, is in talks with a major French Hypermarket to expand the chain to India.

Landmark Group, one of the biggest retailers in the Middle East, is reportedly in talks with a major French retailer to expand the chain to India.

Auchan, one of the biggest supermarket merchants in Europe, is mulling an entry into the US$450 billion (Dh1.65 trillion) Indian market through a joint venture with Landmark, as the country continues to debate foreign ownership.

Landmark already operates five supermarkets in India for Spar International, a global chain, having signed an agreement in 2007.

The deal with Spar is to expire at the end of this year and has not yet been extended, according to The Times of India.

"Our partnership with Spar International has been very fruitful and mutually beneficial. However, this agreement is expiring at the end of 2012. We have aggressive growth plans, and hence are evaluating various options on the way forward," said Hariharan Ramanathan, a director at Landmark Group, in a statement to The National. "The final decision will be taken keeping in mind the rapidly changing retail market and our customers' requirements.

"All decisions we make are based on ensuring we bring the best value, products and service to them. At this stage, we would not like to comment on any reports relating to a discussion with any party including Auchan."

The retail sector in India has been the subject of much debate in the last few months, as the government has tried to open up one of the last major untapped retail markets in the world.

Last month, India's cabinet formally agreed to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership of single-brand stores to liberalise its retail market and attract global investment.

But the move follows a decision last year by Indian politicians to block foreign investment in supermarkets in India.

The government of Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, had previously announced reforms to allow foreign ownership of up to 51 per cent in multi-brand retailers. But politicians declared the move a death knell for small, independent supermarkets and convenience stores in the country.

rjones@thenational.ae