Bracing to meet the challenge from multinational companies in wholesale business, Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Retail on Friday said it would soon launch cash-and-carry format stores in the segment.

Giving out the strategy of the company during his address at the 37th AGM of the company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani said Reliance Retail will soon launch the new format stores to offer numerous national and international brands to small traders across the country.

RIL had forayed into the retail arena with Reliance Fresh stores selling fruits, vegetables and other grocery items in 2006. With the entry into the wholesale segment, RIL is seeking to compete with international chains like Germany's Metro, USA's Walmart and French retailer Carrefour, who have already set shop in India. The U.K.-based Tesco is already chalking out plans for Indian entry amid intense speculation that Government is going to throw open the multi-brand retail sector for FDI investment soon.

Experts are of the view that RIL was already bracing up for competition in the event of FDI in multi-retail brand being allowed by the Government. It is felt that RIL wants to strengthen its presence in the supply chain and back-end rather than just being present on the front-end. While FDI is not allowed in multi-brand, India allows 51 per cent foreign investment in single brand retail and 100 per cent in the wholesale cash-and-carry format.

Asserting that Reliance Retail has already become largest food retailer in the country, Mr. Ambani said all the specialty formats of the company would attain top positions in their respective segments in the next two years. He said Reliance Retail has already got the largest portfolio in terms of the number of formats and 25 lakh customers were shopping at the company's various stores every week.

He said that further growth was expected in the retail business on the back of future investments and Reliance Retail was currently at an inflection point. The company currently operates 1,000 stores across 86 cities in the country, he said.

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