New Delhi, Dec. 13: Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, on Friday named Krish Iyer as the new president and chief executive officer of its Indian unit, effective January 20.
Iyer will replace Ramnik Narsey, who was appointed interim head of Walmart India in June after the departure of Raj Jain, its long-serving country head. He will report to Walmart Asia regional president and CEO Scott Price.
The company said that Narsey would take a new role as senior vice-president, Walmart International.
Iyer joined Walmart’s international unit in 2012 as a senior vice-president.
He was earlier the managing director and chief executive officer of Piramyd Retail and held senior positions in the Asian operations of Hong Kong-based A.S. Watson group.
“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. I would like to personally appreciate Ramnik and acknowledge his leadership of our India business as we worked to develop our current business plan,” Price said.
“It is an honour to be named to this role and to have the opportunity to continue to develop Walmart’s business in India. Through Walmart’s investment here, including our cash and carry business, supply chain infrastructure, direct farm programme and supplier development, we want to serve India and its people, and continue to make important social and environmental contributions to the country,” Iyer said.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, which focuses on wholesale business in India, earlier called off its Indian joint venture with Bharti Enterprises in October.
Under the terms of the divorce, Walmart will buy out the Bharti group’s 50 per cent stake in the wholesale retailing operation through which it runs 20 stores in the country sprawled across an area of just over 1 million square feet.
Walmart’s Indian operations have been seriously circumscribed by government regulations, with the Centre refusing to relax the 30 per cent local sourcing rules for foreign players. The company has not opened a wholesale store in India for about a year despite earlier plans to open eight in 2013. The last store was opened in Bhopal in October 2012.
Moreover, there is a strident political opposition to foreign investment in multi-brand retail. The BJP has already made it clear that it won’t allow MNCs in the retail business if it is voted to power in the general elections next year. The Left parties have also voiced strong objections.
Late last year, the joint venture between Walmart and Bharti suspended employees, including the chief financial officer, as part of an internal investigation into bribery allegations in India and subsequently brought in a team of lawyers from an US firm to strengthen compliance.