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'Retail is a simple business'

delhi Updated: May 20, 2008 00:39 IST
Vandana Ramnani

Sanjay Jog, Head, Pantaloon retail speaks to Vandana Ramnani about the growth and requirements of retail industry.

Why is the retail industry hot and booming?
Organised retail is just about beginning to take off. One is witnessing a 200 per cent growth rate. Therefore, people see a huge opportunity and are keen to be part of this growth story. Sheer numbers are required for the sector. You can enter general management, customer relations and merchandise at a very young age.

How is Delhi/NCR placed vis-à-vis the growth in the other cities?
Two years from now, NCR will have the largest organised retail concentration in India.

How acute is the skill shortage in the sector?
There is in fact no shortage of people but of attitude. Organised retail is undergoing a vast change, there is organised retail at a three to four kms radius. Therefore, there is need to recruit people from the vicinity. The sector is not looking at English speaking people, the bulk of people needed are for frontline retail. Retail is a simple business as compared to other sectors. It is a highly-disciplined business as the store has to look freshly laid out. It’s easy to take in fresh people and train them. Domain knowledge is not much of an issue.

What are the pluses and minuses of the job?
You can showcase your analytical and leadership skills and it gives you opportunities to interact with different types of people such as vendors, marketing people, buyers, visual merchandisers and store planners. The minuses are the long working hours, especially when you are opening a store.

What kind of person is suited for the position of category manager?
It would suit someone with a an analytical bent of mind, who is good at using systems like Excel, who has a structured thought process, a problem-solving ability and who is really hard working. It is a desk job. You have to be self-motivated, spend your spare time looking at the Net at possible new products and competitive products and structure your day yourself. You need confidence, presentation skills, communication skills, good English and leadership skills because you need to be able to get work done from your team.

What kind of people end up in your job?
All types - the night-clubbing as well as non-partying types. There were people in my MBA class who had family businesses and didn't need jobs, but joined up simply to understand retail.

Do you need an MBA to be a category manager?
Someone who had not done an MBA could get a job like mine but you need to be comfortable with numbers, be able to break down sales data and make sense of those numbers, understand at what rate your stock is selling and so on. An MBA helps you with that as well as with problem-solving as it structures the way you think. There is nothing to stop others from getting the job; you just need business acumen and understand what customers want and why.

Where does your future lie?
In the future, category managers will specialise more. Right now I'm doing three categories; in the future, I will probably have only one. The bulk of new jobs will be in operations rather than buying and merchandising. The next level for me is business head, which is all about strategising at a company level so you need very good leadership skills to get the job done.

Do you like the travel?
Normally, there is no time for socialising but we get to go around the trade fair, buying goods and spotting trends. You can see the infrastructure there and compare the transport system and airports and so on and see where we stand. It makes you realise we have a long way to go.

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