Global evidence suggests that sustainability is now a strategic priority for retail companies around the world. However, only few retail operations have been able to reduce climate impact along their value chain or embedded sustainable behaviour throughout their own organisation. 

Apple recently opened its first physical retail store in India, located in Mumbai's financial district. The move highlights the company's foreign investment in the country and the growing trend of foreign companies investing in India's fast-growing economy. As India has surpassed China’s population, the country has presented a massive opportunity for businesses looking to expand. Apple's new store is designed to be carbon neutral, generating its own solar energy and sourcing electricity from renewable sources. It features sustainable design elements, such as energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems, and a rainwater harvesting system. By prioritizing sustainability in its operations, Apple is not only meeting the demands of today's environmentally conscious consumers but also setting itself up for long-term success in the Indian market. 

India has been actively liberalizing its retail sector to attract foreign investment. In 2020, the Indian government increased the limit for foreign companies to own 100% of single-brand retail stores in the country, opening the door for companies like Apple to enter the market. The Indian government's efforts towards sustainability have also been commendable. The country has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) under the Paris Agreement, pledging to reduce its emissions intensity by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, and achieve 40% of its installed electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. India has launched several renewable energy initiatives, such as the National Solar Mission and the UJALA scheme, which promote energy-efficient practices. In 2021, India announced its ambitious target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, making it one of the few developing countries to do so. 

By incorporating sustainable design and materials into their stores, retailers can meet the demands of Indian consumers and set themselves apart from the competition. Retail stores in India have also embraced sustainability as a core value. Fabindia and Big Basket are two examples of retail stores in India that have embraced sustainability as a core value. Fabindia uses eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and natural dyes, sources products from local artisans, and operates environmentally friendly stores with energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems. Big Basket, a grocery store chain, has implemented sustainability practices such as using electric delivery vehicles and biodegradable packaging while sourcing products directly from farmers to reduce carbon emissions. Other companies can learn from these examples and shift towards sustainable practices, investing in renewable energy, eco-friendly materials, and minimizing waste and water consumption. By doing so, businesses can meet the growing demand for sustainable products and services while reducing their impact on the environment.  

Apple’s retail store in India highlights the potential for foreign companies in the country. India is a rapidly growing market with a young and growing middle class, and there are huge opportunities for businesses looking to expand. By opening a sustainable store in Mumbai, Apple is making a strong statement about its commitment to India and its people. The store is designed to be one of Apple's most sustainable stores to date, and it reflects the company's commitment to sustainability. As India continues to open to foreign investment, it will be interesting to see which other global retailers follow the same pattern.   


We are India's national investment facilitation agency.


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