Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises has launched its retail operations with the opening of its first convenience store in the state of Punjab.

The company announced that it plans to invest up to US$2.5bn in its retail operations by 2015. Bharti intends to open multi-format retail outlets across India in cities that have a population of over one million.

The convenience stores, which have been branded “Easy Day”, stock everyday groceries and will also carry personal care products, stationery, household articles, hosiery items.

The stores do not come under Bharti’s joint venture agreement with Wal-Mart. That venture is set to open ten to 15 wholesale cash-and-carry facilities in November, with more to follow.

Attempting to alleviate concerns that the development of organised retail will result in job losses, Bharti has highlighted the positive impact that its stores could have on local communities.

“These initiatives will help facilitate inclusive growth in communities in which its stores operate,” Bharti said.

Employees of the Easy Day store are local residents who have been trained at Bharti Retail’s training facility, the Bharti Academy of Retail, the company added.

The tightly-controlled Indian retail sector, estimated to be worth about $350bn, is expected to double in size by 2015. Organised retail currently accounts for only 3% of the Indian retail industry.