India’s Reliance: Mukesh Ambani is bringing 7-Eleven to the country

Reliance Retail, the commerce arm of Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate, announced Thursday that it will open India’s first 7-Eleven stores, just days after the quick-service chain lost its local partner.

The two don’t appear to be wasting any time: Reliance says that the first 7-Eleven store will open in Mumbai on Saturday, just two days away.

“This will be followed by a rapid rollout in key neighborhoods and commercial areas,” with an initial focus on the Greater Mumbai area, Reliance Retail added in a statement. The shops are expected to offer customers drinks and snacks that are customized based on local preferences.

Ambani is India’s richest person, with a net worth of $99.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Isha Ambani, his daughter and a director of Reliance Retail, helped announce the deal.

The announcement came just days after 7-Eleven had pulled out of a deal with another major local retailer.

On Tuesday, Future Retail said that it had come to a mutual agreement with 7-Eleven to call off an existing partnership to develop and operate stores across the country.

In a brief statement, Future Retail said that it “was not able to meet the target of opening stores and payment of franchisee fees” required.

The company has previously said the pandemic has had a “significant adverse impact” on its business operations. Recently, Reliance has had its eye on acquiring Future Retail, though it’s been locked in a fierce legal battle with Amazon (AMZN) for months over the potential deal.
In August, the Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of Amazon’s efforts to stop the acquisition.
In recent months, Ambani has revealed aggressive ambitions to take on both Amazon and Walmart (WMT), which dominate online shopping in India. Reliance is building JioMart, an e-commerce platform that could eventually offer everything from electronics and apparel to pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
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In a statement Thursday, Isha Ambani said that Reliance Retail was “proud” to team up with 7-Eleven, “among the most iconic global brands in the convenience retail landscape.”

Joe DePinto, CEO of SEI, the owner of 7-Eleven, added in the same statement that the new tie-up would help bring the chain “to millions of Indian consumers.”

“India is the second largest country in the world and has one of the fastest-growing economies,” he said. “It’s an ideal time for the largest convenience retailer in the world to make our entry.”

— Diksha Madhok contributed to this report.

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