MUMBAI: Procter & Gamble is moving its relationship with Future Group, India's largest retailer, beyond the transactional sphere and into the strategic, a development that will add a new dimension to the FMCG giant's rivalry with Unilever.

The brand manufacturer was vague on the details. "It is standard practice for us to engage with our partners across the retail landscape including all our partners in modern retail, e-commerce and traditional retail to develop unique plans that create superior value for the shopper," said a P&G spokesperson.

But Kishore Biyani, founder of Future Group, was more forthcoming. "It will help us to grow sales, and for P&G it will lead to an increased market share," he told the Economic Times.

"There will be collaboration in a lot of things including supply chain, planning strategies and managing shelf space."

Officials from each business will be installed at the other's headquarters to help with joint sales forecasting and planning, while exclusive product releases are also in the pipeline.

"This will allow P&G to bring newer brands and categories into India which can be incubated in modern stores through our stores," explained Devendra Chawla, group president of FMCG and brands at Future Group.

In the US, P&G has a similar association with Walmart, which accounts some $10bn of sales or around 14% of its annual total.

P&G's Indian operations currently have combined sales of less than $2bn and the business lags behind rival Unilever, which is three times as big.

But by tying up with Future Group, which boasts 13 million square feet of retail space in 221 cities and a network of supermarket brands including Big Bazaar, EasyDay and Nilgiris, P&G is aiming to change all that.

Future Group will of course continue to sell products from other FMCG businesses including Hindustan Unilever and Nestlé. But, said Biyani, the "rest are transactional relationships but this [with P&G] is a strategic one".

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff