‘Bharti to Retain Retail JV Control’
Rajan Mittal says co wants a foreign partner not for capital but for domain expertise & best practices
Brushing aside speculations that Bharti group plans to sell off its retail business, Rajan Bharti Mittal, co-chairman of Bharti Enterprises, has said it is looking for a foreign retail partner but will not cede controlling stake. The New Delhi-based group wants to partner with a global retailer not for capital but for its domain expertise and international best practices, Mittal told a leadership team meeting of the company last week, according to company insiders. Bharti was widely speculated among industry watchers to exit the business and cash out after its six-year-old wholesale retailing partnership with the world’s largest retailer Walmart Stores Inc ended in October amid growing differences between the partners. However, persons aware of last week’s leadership meet said the promoters showed enthusiasm about the prospects of its retail business despite Mittal saying Bharti Retail is expected to make losses in excess of .` 400 crore for the current fiscal year ending March 2015. A Bharti spokesperson declined to comment on Mittal’s latest assurance to Bharti Retail’s leadership team. Bharti Retail currently runs around 200 Easyday branded supermarkets nationwide and the chain has been receiving tech- nological and supply chain support as well as supplies from Walmart. But that agreement stands cancelled after Bharti and Walmart parted way.
Currently, Bharti is trying to build its own supply chain for Easyday stores and is slated to introduce its own private brand called Easy Max in the coming months. Until now, Bharti has been selling a host of Walmart private label food and general merchandise products.
Mittal also told the leadership meeting that the Easyday chain is in the process of migrating from Walmart technological and supply platform to its own IT and supply system and it is expected to be completed by December. Bharti plans to open only eight stores till then, he told the gathering, according to sources.
Over the last 10 days, Bharti has rolled out three stores — at Morenda and Fatehabad in Punjab and Kalka in Haryana.
ALLAYING FEARS: Rajan Bharti Mittal