Reliance Retail suspends West Bengal plan


Reliance Retail Ltd has suspended plans to open stores in the West Bengal, the Mint newspaper reported on Monday, after Uttar Pradesh last week ordered its stores shut because of security concerns.

Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd, had planned to invest 20 billion rupees in 145 grocery stores, six processing centres, nine distribution and 23 collection centres in West Bengal, the newspaper said.

"We will open the stores only when we feel there is protection to our people and our property," Raghu Pillai, president of Reliance Retail, told the newspaper.

"We are still evaluating the date," he said of a new time-table for the stores, the paper quoted him as saying.

"We strongly oppose the entry of the Reliance group in West Bengal's agri-retail market," Naren Chatterjee, a member of the Forward Bloc party and chairman of the West Bengal Agricultural Marketing Board, told the Mint.

A spokesman for Reliance declined comment on the company's course of action.

The government of the northern Uttar Pradesh on Thursday ordered shut 10 Reliance Fresh grocery stores.

The stores could be shut for up to 60 days as authorities look into law and order problems stemming from opposition by traders, farmers and small store owners who fear job losses.

Reliance Retail, which plans to spend $5.6 billion, has already opened more than 250 Reliance Fresh stores.

India's fragmented $350 billion retail industry is forecast to double by 2015, helped by the entry of large local and foreign companies. Modern retail makes up only about 3 percent now.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc recently signed a joint venture agreement for wholesale stores with Bharti Enterprises.