Blog: Dean BestBarcelona horizons

Dean Best | 7 April 2008

From Wednesday (9 April), just-food will be reporting from the Spanish city of Barcelona, where the great and good of the retail world will convene and chew the fat over the issues affecting the sector.

The emergence of organised retail in emerging markets, the rise of private label, the growing importance of the environment and sustainability among retailers - all these issues and more will be discussed at the World Retail Congress 2008.

It's certainly a timely event. Once again, speculation over the jostling between multinational retailers, aiming to gain a foothold in markets like Russia and India, has hit the headlines. Last week, rumours over Tesco's international ambitions swirled around the industry. CEO Sir Terry Leahy has already set out his overseas goals for the company, stating that he wants the business to generate over half its sales outside the UK within the next decade. And it seems the UK retail giant is weighing up its options in a bid to meet that target.

So, is Tesco setting its sights on Moscow or Mumbai? The company, naturally, is keeping its cards close to its chest. What is clear, though, is that Tesco will be watching events closely as other retailers - both local and from overseas - aim to tap into the growing spending power of consumers in developing markets.

Whispers around Marks & Spencer's talks with India's Reliance Retail resurfaced last week, although a final agreement has yet to be signed. However, India's home-grown retailers are not just sitting on their hands; Aditya Birla, for instance, last week signalled its plans to expand with dozens of hypermarkets and supermarkets.

And the same is true for Russia's grocers. While industry watchers await the first concerted push from a retail multinational into Russia, the likes of X5 and Dixy are quietly going about their business and building a strong base in their home market. Or, some would argue, building a business ripe for investment from the world's retail heavyweights.

Plenty for those heading to Barcelona to chew over.


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