Raj Jain, president of Walmart India (Mumbai), has resigned, an acknowledgement that the giant U.S. retailer’s six-year efforts to crack the promising but restrictive India market have been a disappointing struggle.
Walmart Stores Inc. (Bentonville, Ark.) said it has named Ramnik Narsey as interim head of its India business. Narsey joined Walmart last month after serving as chairman and ceo of Woolworths India, a unit of Woolworths Australia (Bella Vista, New South Wales), the continent’s biggest supermarket chain.
Walmart’s joint venture partnership with Bharti Enterprises (New Delhi) has not produced a new wholesale store in the country since last October, despite announcing plans to open eight in 2013.
In November, the joint venture suspended several staff members – including its cfo – as it investigated alleged violations of U.S. anti-bribery laws.
India has always had restrictive rules regarding foreign ownership of its local businesses. New rules unveiled earlier this month require foreign supermarkets to set up their own warehouses and stores in India, a condition expected to delay further the entry of global operators, increase costs and hurt cash-strapped local retailers eager to partner with foreign companies.
Many Indian states, meanwhile, have opted not to sign on to the policy allowing global supermarket chains, in protection of their locally owned operators.
"We remain optimistic about our business in India and look forward to our future in India under Ramnik's leadership," said Scott Price, president and ceo of Walmart Asia.