Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Turkish Airport Blasts

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

France indicted for support of ex-Chad dictator Hissene Habre

Read more

THE DEBATE

The big breakup: The EU after Brexit

Read more

FOCUS

France struggling to recruit prison imams

Read more

ENCORE!

Brazil’s contemporary art star Vik Muniz comes to Paris

Read more

FASHION

Men's fashion for summer 2017, part 1

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Metronomy, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg and Jazz

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

UK votes to leave the EU: What now? (part 2)

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Iceland: How far will they go?'

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2014-07-28

As France’s Carrefour pulls out, what next for India’s retail market?

© Photo: AFP

French supermarket giant Carrefour announced earlier this month it is giving up on one of the world’s biggest consumer markets by closing its operations in India. Carrefour wants to concentrate on reviving flagging sales at home, but the move was also a reaction to India’s strict policy on foreign firms entering its retail sector.

Although it opened up its multi-brand retail sector to overseas companies in 2012, India has set strict pre-conditions, including that goods be locally sourced and that multinationals invest in infrastructure. They are also only allowed to control a maximum of a 51 percent stake in any operation they launch in the country.

Attempts in the past two years to introduce a more open “foreign direct investment” (FDI) policy have met with stern resistance from the country’s local traders.

‘They will exploit the market, they will exploit the consumers’

Praveen Khandelwal is a small trader from New Delhi and head of one of the country’s most powerful trade unions, the Confederation of All India Traders.

His has emerged as one of the loudest voices of protest against global retail giants. For Khandelwal, Carrefour’s exit from India is a major victory.

“We are on a mission to make sure that the bread of India remains in the hands of the Indian traders only,” he told FRANCE 24.

"We cannot allow any global retailer to have control of our supply chain. They will exploit the market, they will exploit the consumers and ultimately, they will end up controlling and monopolising the entire trade.”

India’s retail sector is dominated by small, family-owned businesses. This is where most people go to shop, and there are over 14 million such stores in the country.

Khandelwal’s extensive lobbying has won him the support of millions of small business owners.

“When you bring in this FDI, the big firms will come and our business will be affected very badly,” says one trader. Losing his business will also mean losing his home, he says. “So we will live nowhere at this juncture of life, where will we go?”

Helping India modernise?

However, others argue that giving greater freedom for global retailers to operate in the country will help India modernise its poor supply chain by creating crucial infrastructure.

At Azadpur, a vast wholesale market in New Delhi, the lack of such infrastructure is clear to see.

Krishna Gopal, who has worked at the market for 30 years, says the government has done little to help.

“There’s no cold-storage facility here. Farmers come all over but there is nowhere for them to stay. There is no water provided, which is a big problem. There are no toilets,” he says.

“It is the largest market in Asia but it is unbelievably dirty. It should be able to compete with markets in Europe. It should be clean like those markets, but it is not.”

Perhaps the answer lies with India’s own large retailers, such as Big Bazaar, which operates  hypermarkets in more than 90 Indian cities. With the government failing to bring in a cohesive policy for multinational retailers, such companies are stepping in to meet the demand from India’s growing middle classes.

Yet large parts of the country remain entirely untapped and while some companies, like Carrefour, have grown tired of waiting for the government to make up its mind on global retailers, others, like US giant Walmart, continue to watch and wait.

By Mandakini GAHLOT , Romane TAUVRY

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-06-28 France

France struggling to recruit prison imams

In today's edition we meet with a Muslim prison chaplain, an imam who visits French prisons in an effort to shield inmates from radical Islamism. Many observers accuse the...

Read more

2016-06-27 India

Drug dealers of hope: Activists fight for access to life-saving Hepatitis C cure

Hepatitis C, a liver disease, causes approximately 500,000 deaths every year. Luckily, there is a miracle cure patented by the American pharmaceutical giant Gilead. But for most...

Read more

2016-06-23 UK

Like it or not, immigration is Brexit's central topic

Immigration seems to be the most contentious topic in today's so-called "Brexit" referendum in the UK. A record number of people arrived in the UK in 2014, although bringing...

Read more

2016-06-22 UK

Brexit could lead to second Scottish independence referendum

With just one day to go before the UK's referendum on EU membership, we head to Scotland. Party leaders there support the "Remain" camp, and polls suggest most Scots will vote to...

Read more

2016-06-21 Mayotte

French island of Mayotte on verge of collapse

The Indian Ocean island of Mayotte has been a department of France since 2011, but locals feel abandoned by the country's central authorities. After more than two weeks of...

Read more