Walmart has publicly touted the opportunity the Indian retail market presents for almost 10 years. In 2005, then-International CEO John Menzer (remember him?) described India as “a huge organic growth opportunity.” And of course, Mike Duke has gone so far as to say that “India is very important to Walmart and that we keep coming back and why we pay a great deal of attention to India.” Most thought that the Government of India’s decision to open multi-brand retail to foreign direct investment in September 2012 meant that Walmart would soon realize its Indian dream.
But it’s now starting to look like that was false optimism. This week saw not only the ouster of Walmart India head, Raj Jain, but also the news that the Indian government’s inquiry into allegations of bribery by Walmart was unable to reach a conclusion. The investigator describes “some of the answers provided by Walmart as ‘incomprehensible’ and parts of the deposition by its just departed India boss Raj Jain as ‘ambiguous.’” Weird.
It certainly doesn’t seem like Walmart has gotten any closer to realizing its dream.