Kuala Lumpur: Retailing behemoth Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. sees great growth potential in China and India
even as the global economic recovery will likely be lethargic.
International operations accounted for one-third of
Wal-Mart`s global sales and the proportion is expected to
increase as the group focuses on larger markets in Asia.
"China is a big opportunity for us. We are just getting
started in India, where there`s great opportunity for us,"
Walmart chairman Robson Walton told a global CEO business
conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Wal-Mart has more than 250 stores in China but only
ventured into India in May. Bharti Wal-Mart Private Ltd, a
joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart, opened
its first wholesale outlet called "Best Price Modern
wholesale" in Amritsar.
The company has plans to invest USD 100 million over the
next three years to open 10 to 15 more wholesale outlets.
But for now, it can only sell its 6,000 food and non-food
items to other businesses because Indian law prohibits foreign
companies from selling direct to customers in multi-brand
retail outlets to protect smaller domestic retailers.
Walton said the world recovery is going to be led by
Asia although it`s going to be very challenging. "I think this
recovery is going to be a slow one."
Walton said "sales have been tough" for Wal-Mart even
though it was benefiting from the economic downturn as more
people shop at discounters for bargains including
over-the-counter drugs and eat-at-home food.