Trafigura, the world's second-largest metals trader, has opened an online store in India to sell aluminium, copper and other metals to the subcontinent's small manufacturers.
Switzerland-based Trafigura is looking to grab a slice of India's $8.4bn (£4.9bn, €6.2bn) primary metals market, which the company predicts will grow between 5% and 8% year-on-year.
India's small and midsize businesses account for around 40% of the market, but most of them employ traditional procurement methods. Per-capita consumption of nearly all metals in Asia's third-largest economy is way below world levels.
The online store, christened Lykos, will sell metals consignments ranging from 1 to 24 tonnes to smaller factories.
Buyers will get access to index-linked prices for a range of metals including aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin and zinc, according to a company statement.
The metals can be ordered on a need basis, purchased securely online, and can be delivered from three new Indian warehouses -- at Ahmedabad in the western Gujarat state, at Bhiwadi in the western Rajasthan state, and in Kolkata in the eastern West Bengal state
Trafigura will invest between $200m and $300m in Lykos over the next twelve months, a spokeswoman told Reuters.
Raoul Bajaj, CEO, Trafigura India said in a statement: "There is a strong demand for refined metals such as aluminium, copper and zinc in smaller lot sizes, but currently the market suffers from lack of automation, erratic supply, poor quality control, complex transportation logistics and opaque pricing.
"Lykos will leverage Trafigura's expertise in global trading, advanced IT and infrastructure systems, risk management and logistics, as well as our 20 year history of working with businesses in India, to revolutionise refined metal purchasing across the country."
Trafigura was co-founded by French billionaire Claude Dauphin in 1993.