Indian stores closed by farmer protests cost Reliance and Walmart millions in revenue: sources

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In this news, we discuss the Indian stores closed by farmer protests cost Reliance and Walmart millions in revenue: sources

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MOHALI, India (Reuters) – Dozens of Reliance Industries retail stores and a giant Walmart face multi-million dollar revenue losses after being forced to close for more than three months amid protests against the new laws agriculture in India, sources said.

Thousands of farmers from states, including northern Punjab, camped for weeks on the outskirts of the capital, in a bid to force Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal laws they say will benefit businesses rather than growers.

Fears over the agitation of farmers in the Punjab, home to many protesting leaders, have fueled business fears about vandalism and employee safety, causing dozens of stores to close, store workers and employees said. from industry sources.

As of October, more than half of the 100 or so stores of the largest retailer Reliance Retail in Punjab and Walmart’s 50,000 square foot (4,645 m2) wholesale store in the Bathinda district, a center of the protests, have been closed, the added sources.

“We are afraid of the farmers protesting,” said a senior official at a closed Reliance store in Mohali, a prosperous town in the agricultural belt.

An industry source said the estimated losses for Reliance from its statewide shutdowns are in the millions of dollars. Two other sources said that Walmart’s estimated loss of revenue from its store, one of 29 such outlets nationwide, exceeded $ 8 million.

“Farmers are camping outside the Walmart store every day, they won’t let anyone in,” one of the sources said, adding that the store employed around 250 people.

Thousands of items in the store are gathering dust and have passed their expiration date.

Reliance store officials and the sources, who have direct knowledge of the situation, sought anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Walmart and its Indian unit, Flipkart, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reliance, India’s largest private company, also did not respond.

The two companies can absorb the losses for now, said Ankur Bisen, head of consumer and retail sales at consultant Technopak Advisors, but added: “They have to keep their fingers crossed so that the closures don’t happen. ‘not extend to other states. “

An official in Punjab said authorities were ready to provide security but there was little they could do if companies decided to close their stores.

For their part, farmers’ unions pledged to continue protests and prevent stores from opening, even as the Supreme Court this week ordered a temporary suspension of farm laws as it sets up a panel to investigate their complaints.

“Our protests against companies like Reliance will continue… there is no question of lifting our sit-ins,” said Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a leader of a protest group, the Democratic Farmers’ Union.

Another farm leader, Jagtar Singh, said protests against Reliance will continue until the government repeals the laws.

India says laws passed in September will increase farmers’ incomes by allowing them to deal directly with large companies and bypass government-regulated wholesale markets.

But many unions disagree, saying they risk losing their bargaining power and becoming vulnerable to potential wholesale buyers like Walmart and Reliance.

They fear the possible disappearance of guaranteed prices the government pays for their grain.

Reliance, controlled by one of Asia’s richest men, Mukesh Ambani, said it would demand that suppliers adhere to these prices, known as minimum support prices, or a similar mechanism.

In December, protests also disrupted nearly 2,000 telecommunications towers and several Reliance gas pumps in the Punjab. Protests along the highways that connect it to New Delhi have disrupted transportation and industries such as textiles.

In November, the Punjab estimated the economic losses from the protests at $ 4 billion, while an industry group pegged the overall blow to the Indian economy at $ 9.6 billion.

Reporting by Manoj Kumar and Aditya Kalra; Edited by

Original © Thomson Reuters

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