Metro Cash and Carry, part of an international wholesale chain, is finalising plans to expand into Punjab, but is facing difficulties in its Bangalore headquarters of Indian operations.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday at the launch of a reward programme for retailers and other customers, Metro Cash Director Ajay Sheodaan said “we signed an MoU with the Punjab Government a year ago and are in the process of locating suitable properties and obtaining all required licences. We have planned to open six outlets there over five years, investing Rs.900 crore.''

Metro has two outlets in Bangalore and one each in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata and is part of the German group operating in 30 countries and with 2008 sales of euro 33.1 billion.

“Since each outlet has an inventory of close to 15,000 types of merchandise, we need to select locations with care; finding five or six acres close enough to a city is not easy now. Then there are regulatory compliance issues which differ from State to State. Supply chain issues have been overcome with 90 per cent of stock locally sourced,'' Mr. Sheodaan explained.

Corporate Relations Head Vishal Sehgal said the problem faced in Bangalore was in adding commodities to the range of fruits and vegetables already stocked. “When it comes to rice or pulses, licence is required in Karnataka from the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) and our application and follow-up at the highest levels in the state government have not yielded results as yet. In other States where Metro operates, we have faced no similar difficulties.''

The ‘Bandhan' loyalty programme works on the basis of the range merchandise ordered by a retailer and total billing over specified periods. The programme will next be launched in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

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