Reliance Retail gets New CEO

Reliance Retail has got a new man at the helm. The Mukesh Ambani owned retail giant has named Damodar Mall as the new CEO. Mall, an IIT Bombay and IIM Bangalore alumnus will be taking over Rob Cissell as chief executive of Reliance Retail’s supermarket and hypermarket division. Cissell is the former COO of Wal-Mart China and is leaving his post after three years. According to a statement released by Reliance Retail, Randall Guttery will continue to remain in-charge of the cash and carry business.

Mall is currently chief customer strategy officer for the value retail business. He’s 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. Reliance Industries owned Reliance Retail runs supermarkets and hypermarkets across India. These as well as grocery and cash-and-carry stores accounted for 53% or, 5,700 Crore of revenues in the first nine months of the fiscal year.

A statement from the company said, “After a stint of three years leading our consumer grocery business, Rob has decided to relocate outside India to pursue other opportunities.” Cissell will work with the Indian retail giant till March 31st 2014.

These changes are part of an organizational makeover by the retail chain. Guttery, another former Wal-Mart executive who joined with Cissell 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. A statement put out by the company reads, “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.”

“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 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. Cissell took over in 2011 from Gwyn Sundhagul, another expatriate with global experience who’d worked at Tesco Lotus in Thailand.Cissel and Guttery are both ex-Wal-Mart employees and their track record in this domain is nothing short of stellar. They led the firm’s expansion there to 333 outlets and generated $7.5 billion in revenue. That’s 1.8% of theBentonville, Arkansas-based company’s total sales of $420 billion in 2010.

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