Damodar Mall to helm Reliance’s supermarket biz

12 Feb,2014

By Rasul Bailay & Chaitali Chakravarty


Damodar Mall

Damodar Mall will take over from Rob Cissell as chief executive of Reliance Retail’s supermarket and hypermarket division as the former chief operating officer of Walmart China is leaving after three years running the business.


Value retail, which includes supermarkets and hypermarkets, grocery and cash-and-carry, accounted for 53% or Rs`5,700 crore of the Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries’ retail venture in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. Randall Guttery will continue to be in charge of the cash-and-carry business.


“After a stint of three years leading our consumer grocery business, Rob has decided to relocate outside India to pursue other opportunities,” said an internal communication announcing the management change. “Rob will continue to work with us till March 31, 2014.”


The latest announcement is part of other organisational changes at Reliance Retail. Mr Guttery, another Walmart executive who joined with Mr Cissell and who has been spearheading the cash-and-carry business Reliance Market, will now double up as a mentor for the grocery unit that includes the Reliance Fresh convenience chain, besides the Reliance Super and Reliance Mart supermarkets. “To be in line with our stated objective of simplification, we would be creating a common executive management structure for grocery business. This will allow us to leverage the complementary skill sets available within the business,” said the internal communiqué to staff.


“However, to continue the focus on consumer and wholesale nature of the formats we will continue to operate with two separate executive councils providing leadership to these formats respectively.” A Reliance Retail spokesperson declined to comment on the developments.


During Mr Cissell’s tenure, Reliance Retail has focused on larger supermarkets rather than the smaller convenience store format that competed directly with India’s formidable neighbourhood shops.


Rob Cissell

Mr Cissell took over in 2011 from Gwyn Sundhagul, another expatriate with global experience who’d worked at Tesco Lotus in Thailand. Apart from Mr Cissell and Mr Guttery, it hired another former Walmart executive Shawn Grey as chief operating officer of the value retailing business as part of a round of top management changes since starting up in 2006. Both Mr Cissell and Mr Gray were part of the top team at Walmart’s China arm that had around 333 outlets, generating $7.5 billion in revenue, or 1.8% of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company’s total sales of $420 billion in 2010.


Mr Mall, currently chief customer strategy officer for the value retail business is an industry veteran having previously worked at Future Group.


Reliance Retail, which operates more than 1,500 stores in 141 cities, posted sales of .`10,857 crore in the nine months ended December 2013.


Source:The Economic Times

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