The Indian retail sector is gearing itself for some exciting times ahead with big investment plans being readied by a number of domestic corporations.

The Aditya Birla Group is entering the retail sector and is expected to invest INR4.6bn (US$10m) in its venture. Birla Retail will include branded apparel and groceries in their stores.

The group has already hired close to 40 employees for the initial groundwork of its retail business. These include Vijay Kashyap, who was earlier the HR head of retail chain Shopper’s Stop and has joined as the HR head of Birla Retail, and Sanjay Badhe, who was heading land and property acquisitions at Shoppers Stop will look after the operations. Others from Lee Cooper International and Reliance Industries petro-retailing business have moved to Birla Retail to manage customer relationships. It is expected that the Birla Retail stores will start appearing in 2007.

Another corporate giant Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group is in the process of finalizing a few strategic investments. Their strategy is to buy a stake in an existing retailer instead of building their own infrastructure as it is too late to establish a fully fledged retail operation.

The much-awaited foreign direct investment (FDI) is still far away but Bharti Group is moving ahead with plans to form a partnership with the UK’s Tesco. “We are likely to make a formal announcement regarding our retail venture by next month”, a Bharti Group executive told just-food.