Walmart proposes to start retail operations in India in 18 months: Report

With the Indian government formally announcing permission for foreign retailers to start own stores in the country, Walmart Stores Inc proposes to open its first store in India within 12 to 18 months, media reports said.

While the central government notified the policy allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail trade in India, the government vested the rights on individual states to decide on allowing such investment.

"The company is capable of opening stores within 12 to 18 months and would be seeking permission to do so from states that have already indicated their willingness to have the US retailer set up shop," The Wall Street Journal quoted Walmart Stores president and CEO for Asia Scott Price as saying in an interview.

"Two years would be a reasonable time frame in total," he added.

While Walmart has an ongoing joint venture with Bharti Enterprises in the wholesale cash and carry business, the company has not yet decided where and how many retail stores it would like to have in India, Price said. However, he said, the company expects to continue its current partnership with Bharti Enterprises in the cash and carry stores as well, the report said.

Walmart Stores Inc is not looking at any other potential retail partnership at present, the report quoted Price as saying.

India allows 51 per cent foreign ownership in multi-brand retail trade and, as of now, 10 states and union territories have agreed to implement the decision.

Price told WSJ that he was confident that the reform would be permanent and that the company expects be in retail business in India for long.