Harsh Bahadur, former India country manager of German company Metro Cash & Carry, is joining Reliance Retail as president and chief executive of the company's cash and carry vertical.
Mr Bahadur resigned from Metro a couple of days ago citing personal reasons. A statement issued by the company said, “Mr Bahadur has decided to pursue career opportunities outside of Metro due to personal reasons, effective from February 28, 2007.”
When contacted, a Reliance spokesperson declined to comment. Mr Bahadur was the head of Metro for more than five years and led the company when it set up its first outlet in Bangalore. He also handled series of controversies when the domestic retail industry accused Metro of selling goods to individual consumers.
Sources said Reliance Retail has been eyeing Mr Bahadur for almost a year now. “In all likelihood, Reliance has appointed him to leverage his expertise in strengthening backend operations such as management of logistics and supply chain,” a source said.
Apart from various front-end retail formats such as hypermarkets, speciality stores and corner stores, Reliance is also bullish on the wholesale business. “We don't mind being a supplier to the existing mom and pop stores as well,” a Reliance official said.
Industry sources said that retailers, both domestic and foreign, have begun to realise the importance of cash and carry in India. “Even if modern retail grows at a phenomenal pace, kirana stores will still corner a large chunk of the India retail space. In the absence of FDI in front-end retail (food and grocery), international players can at least service the mom and pop stores and institutions by getting into the wholesale business.”
According to sources, with this aspect of business in mind, the company may go on an aggressive hiring spree, compared to when Reliance had announced its foray in retail. Even in the logistics management space, the company is likely to face tough competition in the coming times.
While Bharti-Wal-Mart has already announced plans to enter the cash & carry business, another leading retailer, Tesco, is learnt to be giving final touches to its venture.