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Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani to open India’s first 7-Eleven convenience store, as his conglomerate Reliance strengthens its retail presence in the vast market of 1.3 billion people.


Thursday’s announcement of a franchise agreement comes two days after India’s second-largest supermarket chain Future Retail ended its 2019 deal with 7-Eleven to open 1,000 stores.


India’s retail industry is dominated by family-owned “mom and pop” outlets, but oil conglomerate Reliance Industries added 1,500 new stores last year for a total of nearly 13,000.


“7-Eleven is one of the most iconic global brands in the convenience retail landscape … (and) will provide Indian customers with more convenience and choice in their own neighborhood,” said Isha Ambani, director of Reliance Retail Ventures and daughter of Mukesh.


The first store will open on Saturday in a suburb of Mumbai, followed by a “rapid rollout in key neighborhoods and shopping areas, across the Greater Mumbai cluster to begin,” Reliance said.


Indebted Future Retail, which owns popular brands such as Big Bazaar, said it was unable to “meet the goal of opening stores and paying franchise fees” amid the pandemic of coronavirus.


India’s Supreme Court in August blocked a $ 3.4 billion deal by Reliance to buy the retail assets of Future Group after Amazon objected, saying the deal amounted to a breach of contract.


Based in Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven operates or licenses more than 77,000 stores in 18 countries and regions, but has faced delayed entry into the Indian market.


Shares of Reliance Industries rose more than one percent in Mumbai after the announcement.

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