Wal-Mart’s first India wholesale store opening

New Delhi, India Wal-Mart Stores plans to open next week its first wholesale retail venture with Bharti Enterprises, parent of India's top private phone company, a spokeswoman for the venture said Wednesday.

Wal-Mart and Bharti agreed in 2007 to launch a 50-50 joint venture for a new chain of wholesale stores in India to serve small retail shops.

"We will open a store next week [in Amritsar in northern India],” said the spokeswoman for Bharti Wal-Mart Private Ltd.

Under India's foreign investment rules, no foreign direct investment is permitted in the retail sector -- except for single-brand stores such as Nokia or Reebok -- as part of a bid to protect local retail players. This means foreign groups such as Wal-Mart have to sign franchise deals with local companies to enter the Indian market.

The venture will be the first of 10 to 15 planned wholesale outlets, according to the joint venture deal.

The Bharti Wal-Mart stores are not open to retail shoppers but will serve small shops, fruit and vegetable sellers, restaurants and other business outlets.