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At a crossroads, Wal-Mart appoints Krish Iyer as India chief executive

Saturday, 14 December 2013 - 8:37am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Wal-Mart has roped in Krish Iyer (pictured), a veteran retailer with experience of setting up new ventures, for heading its India operations.

Iyer, who was among the team that launched the first mall in India- Crossroads in central Mumbai – in late nineties, takes over from interim CEO Ramnik Naresy.

Naresy has been re-appointed as senior vice-president, Walmart International.

The CEO position had fallen vacant after the sudden exit of Raj Jain six months back.

Iyer, who joined Wal-Mart’s international unit in 2012 as a senior vice-president, will be directly reporting to Scott Price, president of Wal-Mart Asia in his new role.

Iyer’s appointment comes at a time when Wal-Mart is facing many challenges including slowing expansion, bribery charges and foreign direct investment controversies in India.

Retail experts say Iyer’s priorities will include ramping up wholesale operations and looking for a domestic retail partner to enter India.

Scott Price, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Asia said, “Krish will be responsible for leading the growth and success of our India operations while also continuing to develop our future retail strategy there. His knowledge of our business, combined with his understanding of the Indian market and culture, make him a natural fit for this role.”

Iyer’s former colleagues also agree.

Gibson G Vedamani, a retail consultant who worked with Iyer at Piramyd Retail in 1999-2001 and was directly reporting to him, said, “Iyer was always a very good decision maker and was adept in financial analysis owing to his chartered accountancy background. As a result he always worked towards profitability. Apart from financial acumen, he understands all facets of retail including consumer behaviour. And all this makes him a great choice for Wal-Mart as they need someone who has an extensive idea of retail.”

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India, another contemporary of Iyer, too gave a thumbs-up to the appointment. He said Iyer’s over a decade experience in retail and his both overseas and India experience will come in real handy.

“In order to run a retail operation successfully you need someone with a retail background and that’s a huge advantage that he has. Also, he has great analytical skills and is willing to take risks and that is another very good quality,”he said.

Iyer who is a commerce graduate from Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics, Mumbai, said, “It is an honour to be named to this role and to have the opportunity to continue to develop Wal-Mart’s business in India.”

As per his Linkedin profile, Iyer was posted in Tokyo on a special project with Walmart Japan/ Seiyu G.K.

Before joining Wal-Mart, Iyer was with A S Watson & Co Ltd, a health and beauty retailer from Hutchison Whompoa.

At A S Watson & Co, Iyer was the managing director for India, where he developed the group’s entry strategy for the country.

After that he served as country head and managing director of Watsons for Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.  Before joining A S Watson & Co, Iyer was based out of India where he was the CEO-Retail Business Group and MD of Piramyd Retail, which owned Crossroads.

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