Retail pioneer Pillai in Hall of Fame

22 Sep,2011

By A Correspondent

Raghu Pillai (1957-2011), considered the father of modern retail in India, was declared the first inductee into the Indian Retail Hall of Fame at a function organized at the India Retail Forum 2011.

In an emotional ceremony jam-packed with delegates at the two-day retail industry get-together at The Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai, business leaders such as Thomas Varghese, CEO, Aditya Birla Retail, Bijou Kurien, Chairman, IRF and President, Reliance Retail, Lifestyle, and Vikram Bakshi, MD, McDonald’s (North and East India), paid rich tributes to Pillai who passed away in Chennai in April this year due to a fatal cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son.

Mr Varghese of Aditya Birla Retail said: “Raghu introduced modern retail to India. A towering and inspiring personality, he was a true leader of men who led from the front. He was full of humility and humanity and had a strong sense of right and wrong. The award couldn’t have gone to a more fitting person. He is a worthy example for all young managers to emulate.”

Mr Bakshi of McDonald’s said: “I learnt a lot from Raghu. When there was a bitter debate going on in India about organized versus unorganized retail, he injected a fresh perspective by saying that there was no clash between the two and it was all about introducing modern retail in India. He believed that modernizing retail was important because it was the last mile for anything that gets manufactured. He was an excellent professional and a true human being. People like him never die but always live in the stories that they leave behind.”

Mr Kurien of Reliance Retail said: “Raghu loved good food and a good drink and was full of life with an overpowering personality and a loud baritone voice. He had a can-do spirit and was a natural born leader and visionary. Raghu was also very daring who never got stuck with endless analysis. Once he decided something had to be done, he made sure it was done and could be extremely pushy when it came to achieving goals.”

“He was also a great family man, a loving father and a great husband who never failed to take the call of family members regardless of how busy he was. As a professional, he gave me a lot of insights into the world of retail. He had a unique insight into what makes a store work and just by looking at a location he could tell if an outlet there would be successful or not,” Mr Kurien added.

Mr Pillai’s wife Janaki Pillai, who specially flew in from Chennai to accept the award on her husband’s behalf, said: “Raghu always said his life must be a story that he could tell to his grand-children. To the last, he was true to his word.  I would like to thank India Retail Forum and the retail fraternity for this honour.”


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