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Flipkart Group has announced the acquisition of Walmart India, which operates Best Price, andthe launch of a new digital marketplace called Flipkart Wholesale.

Flipkart plans to leverage the wholesale capabilities of the Walmart India to build its business-to-business service offering and develop and grow India’s kirana retail ecosystem.

Walmart, which is the majority owner of Flipkart, has been operating its Best Price cash-and-carry businesses in India for more than a decade.

It currently has28 wholesale stores, two fulfillment centres and more than 1.5m members,including kiranas, horecas and other micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME)

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive of Flipkart Group, said Flipkart had already transformed the shopping experience for India’s consumers and it is now turning its attention to the country’s businesses.

“With the launch of Flipkart Wholesale, we will now extend our capabilities across technology, logistics and finance to small businesses across the country,” Krishnamurthy said.

“The acquisition of Walmart India adds a strong talent pool with deep expertise in the wholesale business that will strengthen our position to address the needs of kiranas and MSMEs uniquely.”

Flipkart Wholesale is set to launch its operations in August 2020 and when it will pilot services for the grocery and fashion categories.

It will be headed by new senior vice president Adarsh Menon, while Sameer Aggarwal, chief executive of Walmart India, will remain with the company to ensure a smooth transition, after which time he will move to another role within Walmart.

“This move recognises the critical role that kiranas and MSMEs play towards India’s economic prosperity and growth, and the coming together of Walmart India with Flipkart Wholesale will provide an opportunity to build upon the 12-plus year legacy of the Best Price brand serving kiranas across India,” Aggarwa said.

Flipkart’s plans to increase its connection with offline retailers is the latest in a series of recent investments from India’s leading e-commerce players.

Amazon and Reliance Retail have joined Flipkart in acknowledging the importance of kiranas and other MSMEs in the country’s retail ecosystem.