Cheshunt, England – British supermarket and general merchandise retailer Tesco plc has reportedly applied to the Indian government for permission to buy a 50% stake in the Indian hypermarket chain Trent Hypermarket Ltd. According to Reuters, Tesco wants to open stores in western India and would become the first foreign retailer to open a supermarket in India.
Tesco would initially invest $100 million. India has long forbid foreign companies from holding a decision-making stake in supermarkets there, but loosened restrictions in late 2012. However, there are still strict laws in place requiring local sourcing of at least 30% of all goods, which is one reason Wal-Mart dissolved a partnership with Indian firm Bharti Enterprises in October 2013 and delayed plans to expand its presence in India.
Tesco and Wal-Mart have both had a small presence in India through minority partnerships with local retail chains for several years and have been lobbying the Indian government to make it easier for foreign firms to invest in supermarket businesses there.