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Retail sector attracts top CEOs

October 08, 2005 13:07 IST
The prospects of FDI inflow, along with the establishment and growth of Indian ventures, is luring new talent towards organised retail segment in India.

According to highly placed sources, discount retail chain Subhiksha has just roped in Abhijit Sanyal who's been the chief executive officer at Boots Piramal Healthcare to head its western operations, it has also brought in Atul Joshi, who was the chief operating officer at Airtel, to head its northern operations.

Vinod Karnam who was earlier with Marico will look after the Andhra Pradesh operations, while Nagaprasad is being brought in to head their Karnataka operations, he was with Dell Computers until recently. This means the retail chain's plans for creating a national impact are finally in place.

This is just the beginning, one might say, as retail brands across the country are on a hiring spree roping in talent which even three years ago would have balked at the thought of joining the segment.

Sudhir Pai is another name who's shifted bag from HLL and has joined Shoppers' Stop as its V-P - new initiatives. And the company claims that another new talent, who's earlier been with Pepsi and HLL, is also set to join their ranks.

Crossroads has recently roped in Mridumash Rai, an engineering professional and an IIM-C graduate, as its head of business development and strategy.

The fact that retail segment has managed to attract Rai, who was on the verge of joining Infosys's BPO venture Progeon, speaks volumes about the growing influence of this segment.

According to Arvind Singhal, chairman, KSA Technopak, the industry is in huge need of talent and this is being filled not just from talent from across different segments, but also from outside the country. "You will increasingly find people moving in from abroad to join retail segment in India," he said.

This trend is also manifest in the some of the profiles of the people who have joined the industry lately. For instance, Shopper's Stop has recruited at least three people of late who have homed in on the sunrise segment in India.

Ajit Joshi, who's joined as VP - operations, has moved from Australia after acquiring an MBA from the Melbourne Business School. Vanita Chavda, has joined recently as head of store planning, is an architect and an MBA from UK.

Similarly, Unnikrishnan, their chief technology officer, has worked abroad for over 15 years in over 26 countries, before deciding to head towards the emerging organised Indian retail industry.

According to industry sources, the smart and talented individuals expect the big international brands to set up shop, initially through joint ventures. Also, many people see that this new segment is not yet saddled with multiple hierarchy system of some older industry segment.

In fact, they observe that in many cases people are even open to taking lower designations for switching to a new segment, as they are assured of faster growth and in any case their packages are compensated even at that level.

As if all this is not enough, a further testimony of the waves this segment is creating, is also evident as Harvard Business School is just working on introducing a case study on the Pantaloon Retail India story and Kishore Biyani was invited to speak on 'Ground Floor Opportunities for Retail in India' a panel moderated by professor V. Kasturi Rangan, Harvard Business School, to share various aspects of organised retail growth.

Indeed, the biggest moves are being made by the numero uno in the segment. Biyani almost a year ago, persuaded Raghu Pillai to shift to Pantaloon from RPG Retail. According to sources, Pillai was on the brink of joining ICICI's Retail Venture Fund.

That apart, the most recent recruit by the company has been Damodar Mall who's moved from HLL's Sangam Direct to join as president of Food Bazaar.

Shamni Pande in Mumbai
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