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With 7-Eleven, Reliance and Mukesh Ambani get an even stronger grip on India's consumer spending. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, will bring 7-Eleven convenience stores to India, adding to his burgeoning retail empire.

Ambani’s Reliance Retail ltd. secured the pact just days after troubled supermarket operator Future Retail ltd. terminated its own agreement with one of the world’s biggest convenience chains. The first 7-Eleven store will open Saturday in a Mumbai suburb, and will be followed by a further “rapid rollout” starting across India’s financial hub, Reliance Retail said in a statement Thursday, without providing financial details.

Reliance scooped the transaction after indebted Future Retail this week said it ended the agreement it inked with 7-Eleven in 2019 by mutual consent after it was unable to open the brand’s stores or pay franchisee fees. Ambani is locked in a bitter court battle with Amazon for the assets of Future Retail, which is one of the biggest brick-and-mortar chains in India.

The move is part of the powerful tycoon’s wider ambition to seize India’s growing formalized retail space. Reliance is expanding its foothold at a rapid rate, adding 1,500 new stores last year to a total of nearly 13,000, Ambani said at a shareholders’ meeting in June. The shares of Ambani’s flagship Reliance Industries rose as much as 1.6 per cent Thursday.

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

- 7-Eleven’s President and CEO Joe DePinto

Changing Landscape

The deal between the two companies is a “good fit” that can harness Reliance’s digital reach and gives Ambani a “last-mile linkage to the consumer,” according to Saloni Nangia, president at retail consultancy Technopak Advisors.

“The landscape is changing with kiranas also becoming digitally assisted and that’s going to be the largest growing segment in India,” she added.