Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma on Tuesday said a number of global retail giants including Tesco and Sainsbury's have expressed interest in setting up of multi-brand retail stores in the country.

"There has been expression of interest by some major players. The first step has been taken by Tesco, by Sainsbury's. There has also been an expression of interest but not a formal proposal, from Carrefour, H&M. So they all are coming," Mr. Sharma said at a function organised by National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) here.

He said that some of the major global players like the UK-based Tesco and Sainsbury's have sourcing subsidiaries in India. Multi-brand foreign retailers such as Walmart, Metro, Carrefour and Tesco have already invested in India under cash-and-carry arrangements.

World's largest hypermarket chains Auchan Vlanney Mulliez has plans to open 60 stores in India. At present, Auchan has 13 hypermarkets in India operating under a franchise agreement with Max Hypermarket India. Allaying fears that foreign retailers will impact the growth of domestic players, Mr. Sharma said that the small kirana stores and vegetable vendors will survive with the big stores.

He said concerns have been raised about the negative affect of foreign outlets like McDonald on the Indian food retailing sector but domestic players like Haldiram's,

Bikanerwala and Nathu's have grown not only in the country but also in western countries like the US and Europe. "They are all over and they are growing. Have they shut down their shops? The answer is no. You may eat a pizza but you are not going to give up your dosas and samosas," he added.

He said when big domestic retailers like Reliance and Bharti entered the sector, questions were raised about their impact on the existence of small "corner" shops and vegetable vendors but that did not happen. "Even today 96 per cent of the retail in India is with the small retailers and only 4 per cent is organised," he added.

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