01/10/2012 08:54 EST | Updated 03/11/2012 05:12 EDT

India agrees to let foreign companies own 100 per cent of single-brand stores

NEW DELHI - The Indian government formally agreed Tuesday to allow foreign companies to own 100 per cent of stores here dedicated to selling products under a single brand name.

The decision was part of a package of investment reforms announced in November to bring more foreign investment into Indian retailing and strengthen India's creaky food distribution system.

Furious opposition from small shopowners and political allies pushed the government to backtrack on the part of the plan that would allow foreign companies, such as Wal-Mart, to own 51 per cent of supermarket chains.

However, the Commerce Ministry formally announced Tuesday it had gone ahead with the plan to allow foreign companies that sell products under a single-brand name, such as IKEA, to own 100 per cent of their stores here.

Under the new regulations, those companies would have to source at least 30 per cent of their products from small Indian industries and artisans, a move intended to stimulate local production, according to a government statement.