Andhra Pradesh government seeks tie-up with Tesco, Bharti-Walmart

Source: ET

Andhra Pradesh government seeks tie-up with Tesco, Bharti-Walmart

HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government is drawing up plans to open swanky supermarkets, venturing into the multi-brand retail territory that multinational retailers such as Walmart and Tesco are desperate to enter but forbidden from doing so.

It is also seeking partnerships with the wholesale units of Germany's Metro AG and Walmart, a minister said, to create a hybrid retail model that combines the best attributes of the public and private sectors.

The first store will open by the end of March in an upmarket area in Andhra Pradesh's capital Hyderabad. Eventually, the Congress government will spend some Rs 2,000 crore to set up a retail chain that covers all the main towns and cities in India's fourth-largest state.

"Our retail stores will look like any other supermarket, with hygiene assured. We will offer quality packaged food products at reasonable rates," state Food and Consumer Affairs Minister D Sridhar Babu told ET, adding the main aim of the stores is to provide succour from inflation to the middle and lower-middle classes.

The stores will begin by stocking everyday staples such as rice, pulses and commodities before adding a broad range of consumer goods. The outlets will be operated by the government at wafer-thin profit margins so that prices are kept low.

In November, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre gave permission to foreign companies to invest up to 51% in India's $450-billion multi-brand retail sector but backtracked in the face of protests by traders and many political parties.

Other states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra have opened retail stores to sell food products, but with little expertise in the area, these businesses ran into severe losses. Maharashtra had to sell its ailing Sahakari Bhandar outlets in Mumbai to Reliance Retail.

Andhra Pradesh, the minister said, wants to cheap omega replica watches learn from the mistakes of other states. That is why it wants to partner with the likes of Metro and Bharti-Walmart that have expertise the government lacks in areas such as procurement and logistics.

India allows 100% FDI in wholesale trade, where Metro and Bharti-Walmart operate. AP has started talks with the two for tie-ups, Babu said.


A 'Revolutionary' Idea Faces Challenges

 Metro declined comment while Bharti Walmart said it is not in talks at present with the Andhra Pradesh government. "However, we will be happy to partner with the government on such an initiative, if invited," the cash and carry JV between Bharti Enterprises and Walmart said in a statement. The Andhra Pradesh government led by Kiran Kumar Reddy has been under pressure dealing with a separatist agitation in the Telangana region and a rebellion by the son of the late former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

 To win back public support the government recently said it will provide rice to the poor at Rs a kg, a populist move it said was necessary to ease the burden of rising food prices. Kumar Rajagopalan, the chief executive of the Retailers' Association of India, described Andhra Pradesh's supermarket store idea as 'revolutionary' but was sceptical about its chances of success.

While governments have expertise running the public distribution system, their abilities in areas such as procurement, logistics and retailing are cheap replica watches limited, posing a big challenge to Andhra Pradesh's plan, he said. But Babu was confident the hybrid model, which will also incorporate lessons from the failures of other states, would work well. The government has some inherent advantages that it can make use of to keep costs low, he said.