The Indian finance minister has hinted that foreign supermarkets such as Tesco and Wal-Mart could soon set up shop in the country.

Pranab Mukherjee said that the Government would “fast track” economic reforms designed to bolster economic growth according to The Times. Observers said this was a reference to plans to relax rules on foreign direct investment.

The move is likely to trigger a flurry of activity from international grocers as India’s retail sector is dominated by inefficient, independent stores.

Under existing rules foreign ownership is restricted to 51% for shops that sell only one brand of goods. Ownership is even more curtailed for multi-brand stores such as Tesco.

Under new rules foreign companies will be allowed to own a controlling stake, even in multi-brand stores.