"one of the fastest-growing economies."
Mukesh Ambani is bringing 7-Eleven convenience stores to India.
His Reliance Retail company secured the pact just days after struggling supermarket operator Future Retail ended its own agreement with one of the world’s biggest convenience chains.
Mr Ambani is currently in a court battle with Amazon for the assets of Future Retail, which is one of the biggest chains in India.
India’s first 7-Eleven store will open in Mumbai on October 9, 2021
The move is part of the billionaire’s wider ambition to seize India’s growing formalised retail space.
Reliance continues to grow, adding 1,500 new stores in 2020 to a total of nearly 13,000.
Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven’s President and CEO, said:
“India is the second-largest country in the world and has one of the fastest-growing economies.
“It’s an ideal time for the largest convenience retailer in the world to make our entry into India.”
India’s launch of 7-Eleven comes as India enjoys a reduction in Covid-19 infections. Daily cases are now moving towards a 7-month low.
Lockdown restrictions have largely been lifted across the country as India’s vaccination drive gains momentum.
Utkarsh Sinha, managing director of Mumbai-based Bexley Advisors Ltd, said:
“To make a dent, Reliance will need to have similar penetration over time.
“One tailwind in their favour is going to be the market’s affinity for brands: as long as they are able to build it up, they can cause a shift in shopping behaviour.”
According to Saloni Nangia, President of retail consultancy Technopak Advisors, the deal between the two companies is a “good fit” that can harness Reliance’s digital reach.
It also gives Mr Ambani a “last-mile linkage to the consumer”.
She added: “The landscape is changing with kiranas also becoming digitally assisted and that’s going to be the largest growing segment in India.”
Mr Ambani’s association with 7-Eleven is also another sign of the increasing stranglehold that a handful of dominant Indian conglomerates are having on India’s retail space, as they increasingly act as a gateway to major foreign investment.
Many global companies have gained entry into India’s market in recent years via deals with big conglomerates like Reliance and Tata Group.
Ms Nangia said: “The larger business groups who are well funded are taking a larger share.
“It is getting consolidated between four and five players – Reliance has the largest share.”