Walmart India accuses ex-employee for data theft, fears leak out of expansion plan

Walmart

Walmart India, a wholly subsidiary of global retail giant Walmart Inc has accused its former employee of stealing sensitive and confidential information regarding the plans of the organisation in India.

According to an ET report, the former deputy general manager of merchandising Meenakshi Sharma has a wrongful possession of data pertaining to members of Walmart’s Best Price stores, a wholesale chain that has kiranas, hotels, restaurants and other businesses as members.

The case has been taken to High Court Delhi, which slated the next date of hearing for next Thursday i.e; March 8.

Why the case is big for Walmart

The incident came to light when Sharma quit Walmart India in August last year and joined its rival Siam Makro of Thailand, which is investing Rs 1,000 crore to establish a chain of cash-and-carry outlets in India.

Siam Makro is part of the Bangkok-headquartered Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), which has a presence in several sectors such as agribusiness, retail, food production, telecom and automotive.

The company plans to set up 15 wholesale distribution centres in North India in the next three years. The first two stores will be started in Delhi-NCR region in the next six months.

Besides Thailand, Siam Makro also has cash-and-carry business in other markets such as China, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

Walmart, which is aggressively investing in Indian market now fears that sensitive information with regards to their expansion plan may be leaked out to its counterpart Siam Makro, where Sharma is AVP– Non Food at CP Wholesale.

Walmart’s future plans in India

Walmart has plans to add 50 new stores by 2022 to take the total store count to 70. Out of these 50 stores, 5-7 new stores will become operational next year. Presently, the company runs 21 Best Price wholesale stores in nine states.

Besides, it also signed a MoU with the Maharashtra government to build 15 cash and carry stores under the brand ‘Best Price’ in the state.

Walmart has tried to enter India but has remained confined to an offline wholesale business amid tough restrictions on foreign investment. But now after getting leeway as a part of FDI rule in India, the retail giant is also eyeing e-commerce market in India to counter its old rival Amazon in the country.

According to a previous report, the firm is looking to acquire a controlling stake of 40 per cent in the Indian e-commerce major. However, the deal is under consideration as SoftBank, the largest stakeholder in the Bengaluru-based etailer has opposed to Flipkart buyout deal with Walmart.

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