Just last month, Dubai-based Landmark Group appointed Rajeev Krishnan to the post of Managing Director and CEO of Max Hypermarket. His new role will include building the strategy for and executing that strategy for both the hypermarket and supermarket businesses of SPAR India.
Krishnan, a veteran with over 29 years of global experience (21 in the US and 8 in India) has worked in companies such as Target Brands Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Mckinsey & Co., and Bharti previously.
His India experience include his position as the Executive Vice President and Business Head of Retail Operations for Bharti Retail, which was part of the Bharti Wal-Mart join venture, where he was responsible for heading the retail operations of over 130 stores across multiple formats and had full profit and loss responsibility.
On being asked what prompted him to come back to India after working in retail in the West on a much larger scale and in a more progressive environment, Krishnan says, “My journey in the US itself was spread out over 21 years and I was fortunate enough to see and experience retail getting developed in there. I had always been fascinated by the evolution and growth of the Indian retail industry in the mid 2000’s and was always looking forward to contributing in a meaningful way if at all possible.”
The experience has helped hone his expertise in the area of global consumer knowledge. Working up the retail ladder the hard way and – through departments and in multiple countries and situations – has given Krishnan a much wider scope, perspective and understanding of both the consumer and retail industries.
SPAR is banking on this skill – developed over the last three decades – to drive strategy and deliver cutting edge results in both consumer goods and retail businesses leading to the hypermarket’s success in India.
Krishnan’s Plans For SPAR
To start with, Krishnan has decided to concentrate on nurturing SPAR’s core strength in order to develop the consumer proposition and grow in a meaningful way in the future.
“Our areas of strength such as food, grocery, general merchandise and apparel will be our pillars of differentiation and the in-store experiences we build around the same will be how we position ourselves in the industry. We will stay nimble and use and adapt different forms of retail formats to excite our customers and grow in a meaningful way,” Krishnan told Indiaretailing Bureau in an exclusive interview after taking over the new post.
“E-Commerce, retail technology, merchandising authority, customer connect, micro marketing etc. will be the different avenues we explore while we grow,” he added.
The SPAR-Max Relationship
SPAR, which currently operates 17 hypermarkets across the country, partnered with Max Hypermarket for the second time in 2014. The two companies had earlier tied up in 2007, but parted ways in May 2012 due to differences in ambitions for developing in the Indian market.
With Krishnan at the helm, both companies hope to synergize their strengths to ensure an enhanced consumer experience and a financially viable business.
“The relationship goes back almost a decade and the strengths of both partners and the synergy of our expectations will ensure that we deliver a great and unique shopping experience to our customers through our SPAR stores. We are all excited about the growth potential in India and the difference we can make to the communities we operate in both for our employees and our customers,” says Krishnan.
But scaling up operations and maintaining SPAR’s position in India is just one aspect of his role. Krishnan has a much bigger target ahead of him – expansion.
in 2015, Both SPAR and Max announced a target of operating nearly 30 stores across India and touch retail sales revenues exceeding 300 million euros ($400.95 million) by 2019.
While Krishnan prefers to keep mum on expansion plans and sales targets for this fiscal, he is more open about the financial objectives of SPAR.
“We will continue our growth in the markets that we understand, where are financially viable and where we can make a difference for our customers. We will stay on track to expand accordingly and achieve the financial objectives we have set for ourselves,” he says.
“There is still much to learn and explore within the Indian retail stratosphere and that makes this journey an exhilarating one,” he concludes the interview on an optimistic note.