India's diversified Mahindra Group is entering the retail sector, the latest deep-pocketed, family-run Indian company to jump into the fast-growing market.
Mahindra Retail will roll out a chain of multiple-format lifestyle stores across the country, starting in a year's time, Raghunath Murti, a member of Mahindra's Group Management Board, said on Wednesday.
The company already hold licences to distribute kids' apparel, toys and furnishings of companies including Walt Disney, Mattel, Lego and Woolworths Plc's Ladybird in India, he said.
This is a natural extension of that business, and we will also look at entering other areas, he said.
The retail venture would be a Mahindra Group business, although the company may consider taking on strategic investors at a later date, he said.
At this point we are doing it on our own steam, but we won't rule out the option of taking on strategic investors, he said, adding investments and staff appointments were being finalised.
Recruitment advertisements in newspapers on Wednesday said Mahindra Retail would operate in the premium lifestyle space, selling international and private labels.
India's retail industry is estimated at about $350 billion and forecast to nearly double by 2015.
Large Indian companies including Reliance Industries Ltd, the Tata Group, the RPG Group, Bharti Enterprises and the Aditya Birla group are already tapping the market.
Foreign multiple-brand retailers are allowed wholesale, licence or franchise operations in India, the route taken by Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Germany's Metro and Shoprite Holdings.
Mahindra's flagship Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd is India's top utility vehicle and tractor maker. The group also has interests in infrastructure development, telecoms, financial services and information technology.