AV Birla begins retail headhunt

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Snares Vijay Kashyap and Sanjay Badhe from Shoppers’ Stop.

MUMBAI: The newest kid on the retail block, the Rs 40,000 crore Aditya Vikram Birla group is finally flexing its retail muscle.

“Everything is still low-key,” says a Birla manager. But the hirings have begun.

Heading human resource at Birla retail is Vijay Kashyap. He was earlier the human resources head of Shoppers’ Stop. Another Shoppers’ veteran who is understood to have crossed floors is Sanjay Badhe. He was in charge of property in his earlier job.

At a time when anybody with retail aspirations is thinking Reliance, a prize catch is Pankaj Katiyal of Reliance Retail.

He was looking after the petrochemical major’s gasoline stations.

In fact, Shoppers’ Stop and Pantaloon are said to have become the favourite poaching ground for new entrants like Birla.

Over the past 10 months, Reliance, which had spread its recruitment dragnet, picked up almost anybody who spelt retail. “Their pay back time has just begun,” says a leading competitor.

Industry sources claim that the Birla group which plans to have a retail outlay of around Rs 4,600 crore, is talking to one of Britain’s top retailer – Tesco group.

Tesco already has a sourcing operation based in Bangalore.

Another contender is said to be the French retail major Carrefour which is also sourcing many products from India.

The Birla group has honed its retail skills with its apparel arm – Madura Garments which has turned around.

Apart from being the licencees for a clutch of global brands like Espirit and Tommy Hilfiger, Madura’s veteran brands include Peter England, once the largest selling shirt brand in India, Louis Philipe, Van Heusen and Allen Solly.

Madura Garments which nestle under the Aditya Nuvo umbrella is understood to be at the forefront of the group’s mass market retail foray. Hypermarkets and large departmental stores are said to be the formats that the group is toying with. “While it is easy to break even within a year with hypermarkets, the department store format will be a Madura Garment annexe.”

News Source: DNAIndia

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