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WALMART SLOWS IN INDIA

By Todd Horwitz 

Walmart Lays Off Managers in India

Walmart Inc. has laid off more than 50 of its managers in India as it pivots its focus to business-to-business e-commerce to take on Amazon.com Inc. and other rivals in the South Asian nation. Walmart said Monday that it has let go of 56 managers—eight of whom were senior—as it reorganizes operations of its more than 25 Best Price wholesale outlets in India.

“Our members are increasingly becoming omnichannel shoppers,” buying both online and offline, Krish Iyer, president and chief executive of Walmart India, said. “We are also looking for ways to operate more efficiently, which requires us to review our corporate structure to ensure that we are organized in the right way.”

The global retailers and e-commerce companies have been at the receiving end in India as its policy makers have sought to protect smaller local store-owners. Rules designed to shield the 12 million local mom-and-pop stores — known as kiranas — from foreign competition has hamstrung Walmart and others, like Amazon.com Inc. India’s consumption slowdown has added to the pains.

The retailer sees no future in its physical operations in the country and is likely to sell it or merge it with Flipkart, the e-commerce platform it bought for $16 billion in 2018, the report said. Walmart called these claims “baseless and false” in its response to the newspaper.

Walmart said as recently as April last year that it wanted to expand its wholesale business, which supplies the mom-and-pop stores with goods and double the number of wholesale outlets in the next four years. Those plans have now been pulled, according to The Economic Times.

India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is about to launch his own e-commerce initiative which is also trying to use the mom-and-pop shows as intermediaries. Walmart’s maneuvers should better set it up for the new competition.

“We are thus investing heavily in technology and have a healthy pipeline of Best Price stores,” said Mr. Iyer. “We are also looking for ways to operate more efficiently, which requires us to review our corporate structure to ensure that we are organized in the right way.” Walmart denied local media reports that it was planning a second round of layoffs or intended to pull out of the bricks-and-mortar store business.

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz

 

 

Todd Horwitz

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