Alok dharadhar


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Mr Alok Dharadhar is presently the Chief Inventory Officer & Chief Retail Strategy - Future Group. He is an experienced Retail professional who has over twelve years of successful Buying & Merchandising and Category Management experience.

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Alok dharadhar

  1. 1. Mr Alok Dharadhar is presently the Chief Inventory Officer & Chief Retail Strategy - Future Group. He is an experienced Retail professional who has over twelve years of successful Buying & Merchandising and Category Management experience. In his interview with IIM Raipur he was kind enough to answer to the following queries which covered a wide range of topics relating to the Retail Industry. Personal Journey  How was the journey from Shopper’s Stop to Future Group? It’s been a great journey – from working in a single store operations during an era where purchase orders were created on paper, to starting a new chain where all the activities from vendor selection to ordering to receiving stock at the warehouse to displaying them in the store was done by the same team; to working for the biggest retail chain in the country. It has taken me through various functions of retail – buying, merchandising, Store operation IT etc. and through various product categories – Fashion, Grocery, General merchandise, CD & Electronics, Home products like furniture etc.  What is the biggest learning from this journey? That there no end to learning – each day teaches you new things if you are ready to learn. Also Retail is like being on a bicycle – you have to keep peddling and if you stop you will fall. Indian Retail Industry  How do you see the Indian retail industry when the likes of Wal-Mart and Carrefour enter the country? The Indian retail industry is too big to be impacted by 1-2 large retailers – yes it will evolve
  2. 2. with international players coming in which will get their technology etc. The real transformation will happen when consumer embrace organised retail for all product categories and the neighbourhood stores embrace technology to run their stores.  Though opening of Indian multi brand retail sector to FDI generated a lot of hope and interest, not much progress has happened since then? How does it affect the Indian retailer’s plans? To run Retail in India is very expensive with cost of property & other infrastructure being very high in terms of percentage of sales. As in other industries, the Indian retailers will have lot of collaboration with foreign partners. But the clarity in terms of where they can operate is still not there- hence they are reluctant to go ahead. As far as Indian retailers are concerned – they will need to keep their focus on running the operations efficiently.  The Indian retail sector has evolved a lot in the last decade. Where do you see the Indian retail sector 10 years from now. Multiple things have happened in the Retail sector over the last decade - Lot many brands have come into the country, new product categories have been consumed, formats of retail have evolved, technology as in other industries has been adopted by retail industry & a lot of youth now see retail as a career or entrepreneurial venture, favourable. All these will continue to happen. Also thing that will happen is related, complimentary industries will need to grow in the retail ecosystem for the retail sector to move beyond its current phase. The Biggest thing that will happen is the large business houses of India will have retail as one of their biggest business. Organised retail will be big with franchising coming of age in India. Inventory Management  How do we measure in quantitative terms, the impact of any decision taken while managing inventory? Inventory management is about optimisation & there can be no right answer. The simple measure is GMROI which needs to be improved period on period. But that needs to be balanced against to total volume of sales.  What are the recent technologies that are put into use in buying, Merchandising & Category Management and how has it changed the business environment? There are no new technologies – but new implementations of tools that help the process of decision making faster & easier.  What are the inventory control measures taken up by Future group? Rigour in business planning leads to better management of inventory. Tools like assortment planning & Open to Buy are used to control the input, while pricing & promotion are used to induce sales & improve throughput. Focusing on key SKU’s are also important. On the other
  3. 3. hand, supply chain network optimisation also helps reduce stocking points & transit time. All these contribute to the overall inventory control measures. Future Group Strategy  What is the steps future retail is taking to promote online retailing among its customers especially in the electronics segment? We have that drives the ecommerce part for the electronics business.  The number of hyper-stores is growing at a rate of 26% against 8% growth in supermarkets. Is there any change is the retail strategy for hyper-stores as compared to supermarkets? Hypermarkets have a wider assortment & hence are able to drum up large sales in multiple product categories other than the normal food & non-food FMCG products like in a Supermarket. The margins in the other product categories are higher & Hypermarkets faced lower competition than the super markets. Supermarkets focus on daily & Weekly needs of consumers& have to be looked at from that angle for each decision of location, size, and design of the store. While Hypermarkets For Growing Managers What are the essential qualifications and qualities that one should possess in order to be successful in this highly competitive sector like retail?  I don’t think there is an essential qualification but sure some essential qualities need to excel in retail, According to me the following are the most important 1. Eagerness to learn 2. Have a customer focus 3. Retail is detail – hence an eye for detail is very important. 4. An analytical mind that always challenges status quo  What would be your suggestion to upcoming managers? Retail is about both Product & Service – hence managers need to be balanced in their outlook – both right & left brained. People are as important as having the products on the shelves at the right price & place. So my suggestion is be ready to listen to customers & people on the floors, this will give you great ideas on how to improve your business. Also be ready to work on days when most of your family will be at home enjoying national holidays. You should enjoy what you are doing else you will falter. OPEP would like to thank each one of you who has contributed to this interview.