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Modern retail: interview with Andrew Levermore

Andrew Levermore , CEO of Hypercity speaks to Naomi Canton about the threats and opportunities in the retail sector.
Hindustan Times | By Naomi Canton, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 12, 2008 11:54 PM IST

Andrew Levermore , CEO of Hypercity speaks to HT about the threats and opportunities in the retail sector. Hypercity, which opened its flagship hypermarket store in Malad in 2006, plans to invest Rs 1,700 crore to open up 68 new hypermarkets across India in the next five years.

What challenges does modern retail face?
Multiple tax laws and state governance hinders business between the supplier and distributor.
The other challenge is building people. The reality is that in the West you would have ten years to grow and develop a senior executive. In India you need 24 months and if you don't do it in that time you will get in trouble.

Are small shops a threat?
I think we can live happily together. There is no threat to small shops. Some of them that can't adapt to evolving consumer desires may close down, but those that adapt will continue to grow as they offer a good personal relationship with their customers.

How are you managing recruitment?
Retail is not seen as an aspirational career so we have to work with the parents on that. They come from a generation where modern retail did not exist and being a doctor, lawyer or banker was the most honourable profession.

How important is an MBA or a course in retail?
In the future we will look at MBAs and 12th standard passes with equal interest; we will not be looking for qualifications but for entrepreneurial traits. The general manager of HyperCITY Malad is a 29 year-old who worked as a cashier two and half years ago. There is no reason why the CEO could not be a 12th standard pass. The real challenge lies in retention rather than recruitment.

What is the key attribute needed to get in and succeed?
Energy is very important. We want people that want to make it their career. We want people that are not afraid to do menial work. In our organisation, if the CEO sees spinach on the floor he picks it up - he does not call a cleaner. We are here to build individuals who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty.

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