Wal-Mart sees churn at India top deck
TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2007 12:00:21 AM]
NEW DELHI: Even before Wal-Mart could breathe openly on the Indian soil, its operations head for the Indian cash & carry venture and an old Wal-Mart hand, Randy Guttery, has quit amidst rumours of differences with Wal-Mart’s CEO designate for India, Raj Jain. Another key executive Lance Retig has also returned to the US.
An industry source told ET that Mr Guttery is negotiating with German cash and carry major Metro, to head the India operation, although this could not be independently verified. Former Metro CEO Harsh Bahadur is leaving to head Reliance Retail’s hypermarket vertical.
“We can confirm that Randy has left the company for another opportunity. Lance also has completed his assignment in India for Wal-Mart,” the Wal-Mart spokesperson told ET. Mr Retig, the second senior executive to quit, was in-charge of Wal-Mart’s entry strategy for India and was also the chief admin person so far.
When speculation about Mr Guttery’s exit from Wal-Mart was at an early stage, experts had predicted that even if he did leave Wal-Mart, he would stay on and explore possibilities in India. Modern retail has just begun to take off in the country, offering tremendous scope for retail professionals.
At this stage, an experienced expat from Wal-Mart would be a prized catch for any retailer. This apart, even executives taking up retail assignments in India find the offers attractive.
“Salaries for senior retail professionals in India are far better than anywhere else in the world. Overseas retail markets are saturated with limited scope for senior executives,” said a source.
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores vice-chairman Mike Duke is in India. While in the past, the visits of senior Wal-Mart executives have been accompanied by fanfare and media interviews, this time the company has tried to downplay the visit.
A Wal-Mart statement said: “This is a routine business visit. No business announcement regarding our specific plans will be made during this visit. Our business arrangements with Bharti for wholesale cash-and-carry are still being discussed.
We look forward to partnering with them to build backward linkages with farmers and suppliers through a robust and efficient supply chain. Bharti Retail has approached us for critical technology support in logistics, supply chain and back-end technology, all areas where Wal-Mart is recognised as a world leader. At this stage, we are still in preliminary discussions.”
The company has tried to assuage concerns about the fate of small shopkeepers and has said that a cash & carry wholesale operation has the potential to provide much needed support to small business owners and retailers by selling them quality merchandise at competitive prices.