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Earn Rs 1 lakh a month, try retail jobs
Moinak Mitra, Outlook Money | December 01, 2006
Legend has it that on June 26, 1284, the Pied Piper lured 130 children of Hamelin away.
Centuries later, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries (RIL), at its annual general meeting, announced a similar plan to lure India's children away. He said RIL would invest Rs 25,000 crore (Rs 250 billion) to open 5,000 retail outlets in 1,500 towns and cities, creating over a million jobs.
According to ICICI Bank estimates, 3 million direct jobs would come up in organised retail by 2011, with RIL's venture accounting for a third of these. The bank also says that the industry turnover would grow from the present figure of Rs 27,000 crore (Rs 270 billion) to 90,000 crore (Rs 900 billion) by 2010 and Rs 150,000 crore (1,500 billion) by 2015. Salaries are likely to rise at 30 per cent a year and jobs in retail would be there for the taking. Just this time, it's no fairy tale.
Ambani's grand declaration on a drizzly Monday sparked widespread speculation on Dalal Street and the RIL scrip fell to Rs 981.20 from the previous day's close of Rs 1,006.80. Tarun Sisodia, head of equity and research at Anand Rathi Securities, recalls: "Although Mukesh has a legacy of executing scale, the typically long gestation retail requires was cause for worry and skepticism crept in." But that's behind us now. The top-tier is in place and Reliance Retail is hungry.
Run the numbers: Organised retail in India has untapped potential and even after RIL's Wal-Mart-like plans, there is room for more. In March 2006, Kishore Biyani's Pantaloon, the largest retail chain in the country, renamed itself The Future Group, a moniker that leaves behind its origins as a trouser manufacturer and focuses instead on progressive expansion.
Here's a quick take from the company's HR head Sanjay Jog: "As we grow, we are thinking more in terms of inclusion than exclusion. Local people are very important in our scheme of things."
Retail is a localised phenomenon, and for Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak, "it's a sure-shot way to prevent migration from small towns to big cities". Jog jogs the numbers: "There are about 16,000 employees in The Future Group now, and by June 2007, there would be 40,000, and by 2010, 130,000."
Purvi Sheth, vice-president, Shilputsi Consultants, believes there's a positive outlook to the sector as each retailer is busy making its own training and organisational template. She contends that there's no single structure of hierarchy as each player is experimenting with a number of formats.
An ICICI Bank study says that retail (organised and unorganised) constitutes 10 per cent of India's GDP and employs 8 per cent of its workforce. That makes it the second largest employer after food and beverages (65 per cent). Even at three per cent of the overall retail pie, organised retail is gaining the numbers at a smart clip.
"We need 8 million people in organised retail by 2011, of which about 500,000 would be working in the 300-400 malls that would be there by then," says Ashish Mahajan, head (Retail Solutions Group), Indian Retail School.
A large working population with a median age of 24 years, nuclear families in urban areas, along with an increasing working woman population and emerging opportunities in the services sector, are going to be the key growth drivers of organised retail in India.
Career carrier: As of now, salaries in this sector are growing by 30 per cent year-on-year, and it is rumoured that companies have even upped salaries by 60-70 per cent to retain talent.
Take the case of Joshua D'Mello, who worked in a Delhi-based apparel chain and drew Rs 3.6 lakh (Rs 360,000) a year. After RIL announced its mega plan, D'Mello started sniffing around for greener pastures. Within weeks, he bagged a Rs 5.5-lakh (Rs 550,000) letter from a competitor.
No sooner had he pocketed the letter, he received a Rs 7 lakh (Rs 700,000) offer from yet another player. His new recruiter was aghast, but retained him with a counter-offer of a huge Rs 9 lakh (Rs 900,000).
All that money within a single week!
Jog observes a new trend where retailers are snapping up telecom workers. Retail is going through the phase that telecom went through a few years ago, when there weren't enough trained persons and the growth path the industry was taking was uncertain. The telecom guys have lived through that phase. Now retail beckons. The hospitality, FMCG, white goods and BPO sectors are becoming catchment areas too.
Demand & supply: In retail, the store is a delivery mechanism that enables the transfer of goods from the seller to the consumer and staffers must be well-versed in the nuances of this process.
Mahajan claims that at the top end, organised retail is increasingly making room for people who bring in strategy and planning, and have an operations background. Then there are design people and those with a firm understanding of the FMCG market.
There's also growing demand for supply chain managers and visual merchandisers, who are largely responsible for the look and feel of the store. Anyhow, the bulk of the demand is for the frontliners -- sales executives, department managers and store managers -- who interact directly with the customer and comprise 80 per cent of the workforce.
You can start out as a sales executive and expect anywhere between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1.2 lakh (Rs 120,000) a year. From there to a department manager or floor supervisor is a flat two years. At this level, they make anywhere between Rs 1.2 lakh and Rs 2 lakh (Rs 200,000) a year.
As a category, it poses the biggest threat to BPO jobs in the voice-process arena. Moreover, it's a day job and you don't have to lose your sleep over Sam's credit card in Tuscaloosa.
In another year-and-a-half, you should aim for the store manager's slot. With an assured Rs 4 lakh-11 lakh (Rs 400,000-1.1 million) per annum, this is a category where the shortfall is most pronounced. "Most retailers are putting mechanisms in place to train their own staff to become store managers. Before Reliance announced its grand plans, this bracket made only Rs 15,000 a month," says Mahajan.
Then you move on to become an area manager, take charge of a few stores of the brand in the region and make anywhere between Rs 12 lakh (Rs 1.2 million) and Rs 25 lakh (Rs 2.5 million) a year.
The ultimate goal is to make it to the grade of an operations head or the chief of strategy and planning, where seasoned retailers make Rs 20 lakh-50 lakh (Rs 2-5 million)a year.
Amid the din, Uday Chawla, managing partner of Transearch India, a headhunting firm, is bullish. "There'll be faster promotions in retail and, hence, higher salaries." All said and done, jobs in retail are piping hot. Now we recommend you don't pay the piper. Face the music.