As retailers chalk out aggressive expansion plans to grab a slice of the estimated Rs-20 lakh crore retail sector, they would find at least one irritant — trained manpower.
The severity can be gauged from the fact that retailers continue to hire from other sectors like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), hospitality, telecom, IT, and the sector witnessing an attrition rate of 40 per cent.
"The number of people required in the organised retail sector will double over the next five years," said Ramesh Srinivas, executive
'Govt acting under MNC pressure'
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has accused the government of buckling under pressure from multinationals to allow FDI in multi-brand retail. The government has already made up its mind to allow FDI in retail," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, CAIT.
Bharti Retail, for example, plans to employ 60,000 people by 2015. RPG Retail, which owns and operates the Spencer's brand of retail stores, wants to add 2,500 people by 2010-end. Even fund-starved Vishal Retail will need another 500 employees over the next couple of years.
Organised retail stores in India are staff-heavy as compared to those in the West, said Kamal Karanth, MD of staffing firm Kelly Services. "Two people will man a 16,000 sq ft store in the UK compared to at least eight persons in India. Customers in India need to be cajoled as opposed to Western nations where it is demand-driven."
Retailers confirmed lack of trained workforce.
"We pay a premium to poach employees from other sectors but there is a limit for that," said Nihar Ranjan Ghosh, senior vice-president, human resources, RPG Retail.
RPG Retail, which employs close to 7,500 people in its Spencer's branded retail stores, has hired nearly half of them from other sectors.
However, a Bharti Retail spokesperson said that a person only needs the right attitude to work in its Easyday stores.
"Each function and each level requires unique skill set. While these skills may not be available in the context of the retail sector, due to an abundance of talent in India, people with the required skills set can easily be found across other sectors and industries."
"We face a staff shortage at senior and middle levels in our back-end operations," said Thomas Varghese, CEO, Aditya Birla Retail.