Home >Companies >News >Aditya Birla Retail names Vishak Kumar new CEO
Aditya Birla Retail currently has over 2 million sq. ft of retail space in more than 60 cities. It runs more than 500 supermarkets and 16 hypermarkets across the country. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Aditya Birla Retail currently has over 2 million sq. ft of retail space in more than 60 cities. It runs more than 500 supermarkets and 16 hypermarkets across the country. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Aditya Birla Retail names Vishak Kumar new CEO

hypermarket business CEO Russell Berman exits at end of seven-year contract; supermarket business head Kumar CEO of both formats

New Delhi: Aditya Birla Retail Ltd on Tuesday named a common chief executive officer (CEO) for its hypermarket and supermarket retail chains, and rejigged the management in an effort to streamline their operations.

It’s the second time that Aditya Birla Retail, a part of the $40 billion Aditya Birla Group, has restructured its money-losing retail business in 18 months.

The company announced the exit of Russell Berman, CEO of the hypermarket business, at the end of his seven-year contract with Aditya Birla Retail. Vishak Kumar, head of the supermarket business and an Aditya Birla Group veteran, who joined as a management trainee in 1995, will be CEO of both the formats.

“With a common CEO for the two formats, we aim to bring greater synergies," said Pranab Barua, business director, apparel and retail sector, adding that Kumar will be responsible for expanding the More supermarket and More hypermarket formats and strengthen quality.

Aditya Birla Retail currently has over 2 million sq. ft of retail space in more than 60 cities. It runs more than 500 supermarkets and 16 hypermarkets across the country.

As part of the new structure, company insiders Sashi Gumma and Suraj Bahirwani were appointed as the chief operating officers for the supermarket and hypermarket formats, respectively.

The buying and merchandising function has also been restructured, with Sumit Chandna and Karandeep Jaiya appointed as the chief merchandising officers for the food and grocery segment and the lifestyle segment, respectively.

In other moves, Girdhar Chitlangia, another group veteran, was elevated as chief commercial officer and Kunal Dhawan was named chief marketing officer in addition to his role as head of the private label business.

Gurpreet Sandhu, who was heading the staples division in the supermarkets business, has moved into the role of supply chain head at the supermarket business, the company.

The changes are part of the company’s effort to merge the supermarket and hypermarket formats, according to people familiar with the situation.

“About three years ago, Aditya Birla Retail had plans to merge its hypermarket and supermarkets divisions, but did not do so. Now they have once again revived the plans," said an industry executive, who left the organization about a year ago.

A company spokesperson denied plans for a merger of the two units, suggesting that both have separate business models and will continue to be run independently of each other.

Slowing economic growth, which slumped to a decade’s low of 5% in the year ended 31 March and has forced consumers to cut back on spending, has hurt demand at the country’s supermarket chains.

“In the current retail environment, where demand has been under pressure, most companies are facing challenging times," said a retail analyst who didn’t want to be named, adding that streamlining of operations was the likely outcome of the pressure brought on by the declining demand.

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