Walmart Inc. has fired some of the top India executives and plans to pare its presence in the country, said a local media report.
The world’s largest retailer is looking to halt new-store expansion in India and will continue to cut staff, said The Economic Times, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The executives already sacked include vice presidents across sourcing, agri-business and fast-moving consumer goods, and the real estate team responsible for finding new store locations has been disbanded, said the report.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company “remains committed” to growing in India and keeps looking for ways to operate more effectively, the retailer said in an email to Bloomberg. “This requires us to review our corporate structure,” Walmart said in the statement. “Impacted associates have been offered enhanced severance benefits and outplacement services to support their transition.”
It didn’t specify the number of employees who had been asked to go.
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.