Kolkata, November 30 Even after the state government’s assurances of “all sorts of protection”, Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Fresh is undecided on whether to go ahead with its plan to open outlets in the state.
The company had put on hold its plans for West Bengal following a spate of attacks on the retail outlets by Forward Bloc activists and Trinamool Congress and BJP.
The president and chief executive of the lifestyle division of Reliance Retail, Bijou Kurien, said that the company was planning to open 400 Fresh outlets across India soon. When asked how many of these would be opened in Bengal, Kurien said: “None”.
Reliance also plans to open 30 hypermarts in the country by the end 2008 fiscal but none has been slated for Bengal. Kurien said: “If the government makes up its mind then you can see everything. If the government cannot reach a consensus on the entry of Reliance Fresh into the state, there is no way. West Bengal has great consumption potential,” Kurien said.
On the issue of the relocation of staff recruited for Reliance Fresh in Bengal, Kurien said that most of them have been shifted on their own will.
He added that those who were keen on staying back in Kolkata were asked to do so while the company waited for the other retail initiatives to come into the state.
Around 1000 employees recruited for Reliance Fresh centres in Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have been given placements.
Kurien said that a clear national policy was required with respect to the marketing of agricultural produce to do away with the ambiguity and laws that varied from state to state.
Retail shop inauguration sparks protest in Belghoria
Tension erupted on Feeder Road in Belghoria area of the city on Friday morning after local shop owners protested against the inauguration of a private retail shop in the area.
According to police, the Spencer’s outlet was scheduled to open today and preparations were on since morning. “The inauguration was cancelled as about 150 local shop owners and workers under the Byabsayi Samiti agitated in front of the shop and protested against the opening,” said a police officer.
“A contingent of policemen was sent to bring the situation under control. The crowd dispersed around 1 pm,” said added the officer.
A leader of the Byabsayi Samiti, Swarnendu Saha, said: “Our business will be affected and our families will die of hunger. We will not allow Spencer’s to open here. It is a question of our livelihood. We are demonstrating peacefully today.”
RPG Retail has plans to increase the number of Spencer’s retail outlets across the country from the present 125 to 2,000 within the next two years.Express India