The world’s biggest retailer has concluded it can’t take on the whole world by itself. Walmart is in discussions to give up control over hundreds of stores in the U.K. and Brazil, two big markets where it has struggled for years, according to people familiar with the talks. At the same time, it is preparing to pour billions of dollars into an Indian e-commerce startup to crack a promising market that has long eluded the U.S. giant. The moves underscore Walmart's renewed focus on catching up with competitors, ranging from grocer Aldi to Amazon, in key international markets. The retailer's underperforming international business contributed less than a quarter to its total revenue of $500.3 billion in fiscal 2018.
Walmart's international woes have been exacerbated by slow decision-making over the years and even initial talks with India's Flipkart began as far back as 2016.
Walmart initially entered the Indian market in 2007 through a joint venture with India's Bharti Enterprises, years before Amazon debuted there. That joint venture was called off in 2013 and its presence in India has remained largely static since then, at least in part due to restrictions around foreign investment in physical retail in India.
Meanwhile, Amazon jumped in with a less regulated online marketplace offering, retail consultants and investors. Amazon now holds about 27 per cent of India's burgeoning e-commerce market, according to Euromonitor, where Walmart remains a footnote and only operates 21 cash-and-carry wholesale stores in the country that sell to businesses.