An employee takes stock of stacked products at an Amazon warehouse in Bangalore. Photo: AFP

While American brick-and-mortar retail giant Walmart acquired India’s leading e-commerce firm Flipkart last year, its country rival, e-commerce giant Amazon, is trying to increase its brick-and-mortar retail footprint in India.

Amazon is reportedly in an advanced stage of discussions with Future Retail Ltd for picking up an 8-10% stake in the Indian retail chain, Press Trust of India reports. The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks, the agency added, quoting unnamed sources.

Founded and promoted by Kishore Biyani, Future Retail operates hypermarkets and supermarkets under brands that include Big Bazaar, Easyday, Foodhall, HyperCity, FBB, Heritage Fresh, Ezone and WH Smith. It runs over 2,000 stores in 400 cities and is India’s second-biggest retailer by turnover.

Future Retail is reportedly seeking a valuation of about 20 billion rupees ($281 million) from Amazon for the stake.

If the deal goes through, it will help Amazon further strengthen its foothold in the Indian market, where it already has a sizable online marketplace.

Amazon bought a 5% stake in Indian apparel and household products retailer Shoppers Stop Ltd in 2017 and then in September 2018 picked up a stake in grocery chain More. Future Retail would be Amazon’s third investment in the Indian brick-and-mortar retail ecosystem.

A deal with Future Retail will also help Amazon compete against Walmart-backed Flipkart as well as Mukesh Ambani’s proposed e-commerce venture.

For Mumbai-based Future Retail, the transaction could prove beneficial as it will get access to funds as well as expertise for strengthening its own online presence.

Founded in 1987, Future Retail is a subsidiary of Future Group and is a stock exchange-listed company. As of June 2019, promoter Biyani and his group were holding 47.02% shares.

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