Can you picture buying wine from a wine retail counter in Carrefour? How about picking up a bottle of wine in a hurry from a vending machine installed in a Wal-Mart Store? In India!! Both may be reality India one day, though not in the near future, if one goes by what is happening with the two super-giants of retail in the world arena.
Kishore Biyani’s Future Group, the largest Indian retail chain with outlets such as Big Bazaar and Pantaloons has been most frequently named as a likely partner for the French biggie for quite some time. Reportedly, it is very close to signing the deal for partnership, with Kishore Biyani stationed in Paris. Of course, both sides have not commented about the talks which have been going on for a year with several time-outs during this period.
India's strict foreign investment policy (FDI) allows no overseas chains in the retail sector except for single-brand outlets like Nokia, Nike or Reebok in order to protect local retailers, mainly mom and pop, kirana stores run by the family. Presently, they are allowed to run as wholesalers (cash and carry) only-Metro being one such example. Recently, there have been positive signals of thawing from the government and this could be the reason for resumption of talks.
There have been pressures from both the US President Obama and French President Sarkozy who visited India recently, to open up FDI in the Retail sector for foreign companies, hopefully setting stage for the proposed change to be carried out without further delay.
Meanwhile the retailing giant Wal-Mart USA has received a green light from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to put wine kiosks in stores across the state, according to a report. As one of the early ones to report the news, delWine had announced that the State of Pennsylvania had allowed selling of wine through vending machines in the retail stores. The machines will reportedly have more than 50 varieties of wine. But before you buy, you'll need to swipe your driver's license -- and blow into a Breathalyzer. Despite opposition from several quarters, the concept has already taken shape and Wal-Mart will soon start dispensing wine from these machines.
If and when the Wal-Mart starts front-end retail operations in India with Bharti, and if and when the state governments get progressive enough to allow selling wine through retail and vending machines, we could see a wine revolution that looks unimaginable at the present time.