Paris: Carrefour, the world's second largest retailer, is working on a plan to exit India, media reports said on Saturday, amid political uncertainty about the future of multi-brand retail in the South Asian giant.
The reports in the Times of India and Business Standard and other dailies come as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tipped to win India's marathon general election which winds up in mid-May, declared it opposes allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.
Indian newspapers quoted unnamed sources in the France-based company as saying Carrefour had been working on an exit strategy for two weeks.
Carrefour did not answer telephone calls from AFP, but Business Standard newspaper quoted the retailer's regional director Franck Kenner as saying: "At this point, we will not be able to comment on anything."
The Indian newspapers said Carrefour's plans to leave the country come after talks to sell its five wholesale stores to Indian tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal's retail group failed.
The reports said there had been several senior level exits from Carrefour India already, and that the company saw little hope of the next Indian government allowing foreign chains to set up multi-brand outlets in the country.
Carrefour had been expected to set up supermarkets in India after the Congress-led national government in 2012 allowed foreign stores to launch 51-per cent-owned joint ventures in the country they had eyed for years as a potentially lucrative market.
The retail sector landscape remains dominated by traditional family-owned shops and small grocery stores.
The central government has left it to each state to decide whether foreign retailers can set up shop — but enthusiasm has been muted.
One of the few foreign retailers to commit to India recently is Britain's Tesco, which has declared it will invest in India since the Congress government relaxed the FDI rules. Tesco has struck a deal with India's giant conglomerate Tata to invest in a dozen stores in India.