India’s Reliance launches giant retail rollout

HYDERABAD, India, Nov 3, 2006 (AFP) – Indian corporate giant Reliance Industries began a multi-billion dollar superstore rollout Friday with promises to the nation’s small traders that it would not drive them out of business. The 11 slick, air-conditioned stores which opened in this southern city are a novelty in the country of 1.1 billion people, and are part of Reliance’s plans to create a “Wal-Mart in India.”

The foray into retail by Reliance — India’s biggest private company by market capitalisation and its most profitable — has sparked fears among mom-and-pop traders who comprise about 97 percent of the nation’s retail trade.

But Reliance, whose main business is energy and runs the world’s third-biggest oil refinery in Gujarat, said small traders should not worry over its entry into the 300 billion dollar retail market.

“We are not harming small retail players,” Raghu Pillai, president of Reliance Retail Ltd, said at the launch.

“The market is growing by eight per cent which is 24-25 billion dollars every year,” Pillai told reporters.

“We are aiming at revenues of only 25 billion dollars in four years. Even if the market grows by 100 billion dollars by 2015, organised retail would be still less than