The last few weeks have witnessed a series of top level corporate exits in the apparel sector and retail space in India. Big players from Raymond to Aditya Birla, Marks & Spencer to Reliance Retail have seen a rejig at the highest level. The buzz is that it could be a prelude to impending structura l changes the business of some these companies. Take Aditya Birla Nuvo for example, one of the largest players in the branded clothing space with Rs 1,115-crores in revenue, has effected changes at the highest level. Aloke Malik, who was president of Peter England Fashions and Retail Ltd, is now moving on to another group company Idea Cellular Ltd. The current president of Madura Garments Lifestyle and Retail Ltd, Ashish Dikshit, will now spearhead the de-merged operations of Peter England Fashions & Retail as well. The feeling among industry circles is this development could be the preface to impending structural changes in Aditya Birla's apparel business, which is in the midst of dismantling cost structures built-in during the boom period, as it emerges from the red. Aditya Birla may be simplifying the operational structure once again with Ashish Dikshit taking over the entire fashion brands and retail operations. Dikshit, an IIM-B graduate, was earlier with Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla's office before moving in as president of Madura Garments.
Another contemporary case which has sent shockwaves through corporate circles is that of Deepak Khetrapal, COO of Raymond. His decision to quit came as a shock to the board, which had met to consider the company?s annual financial performance for the fiscal ended March 31. After deliberating for over an hour, it decided to accept his resignation. Khetrapal, 54, was hired two years ago to turn around the company, then making losses. He refused to give reasons, other than saying that he wanted to leave when the going was good. This is the second high- profile resignation at Raymond in recent months. S Raghunathan, President, finance, a high-profile lateral appointment, resigned early this year. He had come from Hindustan Unilever but did not last for a year. Raymond recorded a net profit of Rs 6.6 crores in the March quarter against a loss of Rs 239 crores a year-ago quarter on higher sales from the textile segment.
Reliance Retail too has seen a number of departures involving those in the rank of president and CEO of late. As reported earlier, Raghu Pillai, President and CEO (operations, strategy and business development), Reliance Retail, will quit by mid-year. The latest news is that Sanjeev Asthana, President and Chief Executive of the agri business and food supply chain, will leave the company in May. It may be noted that Reliance Retail undertook a major management restructuring late last year and hired about 20 expat executives, mostly from Tesco, Thailand. This team, headed by CEO Gwyn Sundhagul, has been revamping the value format, the company?s flagship business.
Meanwhile, at Marks & Spencer Reliance India, Martin Jones has been appointed the new CEO. He joined Marks & Spencer UK in 1997 and has worked in various roles within retail operations and buying and merchandising. He succeeds Mark Ashman who headed the joint venture between Marks & Spencer and Reliance Retail since it was set up in 2008.
In a related news V D Wadhwa has become the new MD and CEO of Timex Group India, a subsidiary of Timex Group USA. He has been with the company since its inception and is credited with the re-establishment of the entire distribution and retail base after the split of the Timex joint venture from the Tatas.