NEW DEHLI: The world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart is bringing its brand to India through a pioneering joint venture with the subcontinent's leading cellphone operator, Bharti Enterprises.

US-headquartered Wal-Mart plans to open the first of "hundreds" of franchises in Bharti-owned stores by August 2007.

India's twelve million family-run shops will be anxiously watching developments amid fears that the ranks of jobless could rise and pollution increase as shoppers drive to stores instead of receiving home-delivered produce.

Wal-Mart has in the past argued to Indian officials that were it allowed to sell in the country it would use its inventory and logistics expertise to help spread prosperity by creating new markets for farmers.

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune Online; additional content by WARC staff