Bharti Retail opens convenience stores 'East Day'

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New Delhi, Apr 16 (UNI) Ahead of the roll-out of its wholesale centres in collaboration with Wal-Mart, Bharti Enterprises subsidiary Bharti Retail Ltd (BRL) today launched its first food and grocery stores 'Easy Day' in Ludhiana.

Bharti Retail aims to spend 2.5 billion dollars by 2015 in multiple-format stores, including hypermarkets and supermarkets, that will compete with Reliance Industries, Pantaloon Retail India Ltd, RPG Group and the Aditya Birla Group.

Bharti Enterprises also has a 50:50 JV with Wal-Mart for wholesale cash-and-carry and back-end supply chain management, which is expected to open the first store by the end of 2008.

The JV aims to open 10-15 centres over the next seven years.

The Easy Day neighbourhood stores, measuring 2,500 to 4,500 sq ft, will offer jobs to vendors of fruits, vegetables and meat, as well as to housewives and retired people, Bharti Retail said in a statement.

''These initiatives will help facilitate inclusive growth in communities in which its stores operate,'' it said.

It may also help mitigate concerns about job losses from the growth of modern retail in the country, where only about three per cent of the retail industry is in the hands of large companies.

The retail industry is pegged at about 350 billion dollars and is forecast to nearly double in size by 2015.

Foreign multiple-brand retailers are currently only allowed wholesale and franchise operations in India.

Germany's Metro AG and Shoprite Holdings have wholesale centres, while French retailer Carrefour and Tesco Plc are also in talks for similar deals.

UNI SR PDT ND2112

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