MUMBAI/PARIS, July 8 (Reuters) - French retail giant Carrefour SA will shut down its Indian operations and close its wholesale stores in the country, as it exits underperforming markets to focus on reviving its French business.
The world’s no.2 retailer by sales, which has been operating in India since 2010, will shut its five Indian wholesale stores by the end of September, it said in a statement late on Monday.
Carrefour has been in talks with Indian retail companies and strategic investors about its Indian assets in recent months, after flagging in March that it was considering the future of the business.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Carrefour had found a buyer for the business. A Carrefour spokesperson declined to give any further details.
The Indian government opened up the country’s $500 billion retail sector to foreign supermarket operators in 2012, but mandatory local sourcing requirements and a decision to let individual Indian states decide whether to allow global chains has deterred new entrants.
Only British supermarket operator Tesco Plc has so far announced plans to set up stores in India.
The new Indian government under Narendra Modi, elected in May, has also opposed foreign investment in the supermarket sector, fearing it will hurt small shopkeepers.
The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc last year called off its Indian partnership and shelved a plan to open retail stores.
Wal-Mart is now focusing on opening wholesale stores in the country and recently launched an e-commerce venture in India.
Carrefour, under Chief Executive Georges Plassat, has in the past said it will sell non-core assets to raise cash to defend key markets in western Europe, China and Brazil.
The supermarket operator has exited markets like Greece, Colombia, Singapore and Malaysia among others in the past few years. (Reporting by Nandita Bose in Mumbai and Leigh Thomas in Paris; Editing by Richard Pullin)