B&Q to invests $250 mln in Indian retail venture

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New Delhi, Home improvement retailer Kingfisher PLC's B&Q business is considering an initial investment of 250 mln usd to establish a foothold in India's 12 bln usd organised retail market.

B&Q is said to be exploring both franchise and joint venture options to enter what is one of Asia's two fastest growing economies, with senior executives currently holding talks with a host of established local players.

B&Q’s chief of Asian operations, Steve Gilman, had visited India early this year to explore opportunities in the country for a B&Q chain. Mr Gilman had also sought a clarification on India’s roadmap to relaxing FDI in retail norms from commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath. The retailer is expected to make an initial investment of 250 mln usd in its Indian retail venture.

India's regulations currently permit 51 pct foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail and 100 pct FDI in cash-and-carry under the automatic route.

While there were indications from the commerce ministry earlier on relaxing FDI norms in certain segments in speciality retail, it has not been followed by any policy announcement so far. With a clarity on that front expected to arise soon, B&Q is also looking at forging a JV with an Indian partner.

B&Q is the number one do-it-yourself retailer in Europe and the third- largest in the world, with over 700 stores worldwide. It sells home products ranging from bathroom accessories and carpets to paints and appliances.

Apart from B&Q, the Kingfisher group operates retail brands like Brico Depot, Castorama, Screwfix, Koctas and Hornbach. The home improvement market in India, including construction material like timber, cement and paints, is estimated to be worth Rs 350,000 crore.

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