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“Spar Hypermarket spurs its growth with thoughtful aggression”

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Foreseeing the potential of modern food retailing in India, Spar International, one of the world’s largest food retailers, rolled out its hypermarkets in India through a license agreement with Max Hypermarkets India Ltd. Viney Singh, managing director, Max Hypermarkets was closely involved in the signing process of the license agreement and now under his leadership in India, Spar is all set to open its next hypermarket in Mantri Mall, Bangalore which will also be the third Spar store in Bangalore and fourth in India.

Singh was also a part of the start up and leadership team as CEO of Reliance Communications till 2006. Before that, he was with Hindustan Unilever for two decades and had worked in its food, personal care and home care businesses as director, Customer Management, Unilever Mashreq and head, Business Development of the food businesses in HUL. Singh is also an active squash player, swimmer and scuba diver. In an exclusive interview with IndiaRetailing, Singh expressed his confidence on Spar’s values and beliefs on modern food retailing promised to take them forward.

IndiaRetailing (IR): What is the driving philosophy of retail operations at ‘Spar’ and overall Max Hypermarkets?
Viney Singh (VS): Our philosophy centers on offering our customers a truly international shopping experience at the best of its value and least of its price. We derive this through the four pillars of operations and practices in Spar i.e best in freshness, best in range, best in value and best in service.

IR: While taking your retail operation forward in the Indian context, what is the biggest learning from the current slowdown?
VS: Food comes into the category of necessary items of our lives and therefore, people have to buy food, groceries and household products irrespective of the upheavals and uncertainties of any economic situation. In these situations we try and ensure that all our stores remain the most attractive in looks and function so that customers choose Spar over others.

IR: Your personal vision when it coming to leading your retail team.
VS: Focusing on “Customer experience’ has always been the core objective of our decision making process in our retail operation.

IR: Given the two schools of thought that are currently dominating the Indian retail industry — ‘aggressive expansion’ versus ‘slow but steady expansion’ — which has attracted you as your own retail strategy?
VS: Our strategy is one of aggressive expansion but in our chosen geographies and of course without compromising on the store infrastructure. The idea is to deliver the best to meet the desired customer experience.

IR: Your comment on the expression ‘Powerful Retailer’. According to you, which are the three most ‘powerful retailers’ in the world and why.
VS: According to me, a ‘powerful retailer’ is one who has achieved scale through a relevant, robust and profitable business model. Therefore, in my view the three ‘powerful retailers’ in the world would be Primark, Zara and Target.

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