The joint venture between UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Reliance India has appointed a new head to direct its operations in India. Venu Nair will take charge as the new managing director of the venture, replacing current CEO Martin Jones, who will move back to London shortly.
This announcement came soon after Jones cited personal reasons for moving back to his home country. Consequently, VenuNair was chosen to head the operations once Jones moves out of his post of duties.Up till now, Nair has been thehead of sourcing for the £9.7-billion British retailer in South Asia and director of buying operations for India. Being a native, Nair is likely to have a stronger understanding of the Indian market andhis directinvolvement in sourcing will play to his strengths as the new head of Indian operations.
M&S operates in India through Marks & Spencer Reliance India venture; a joint venture with Mukesh Ambani led-Reliance Industries subsidiary. This deal was signed with an aspiration to turn the UK retailer into a ‘major retail brand’ in India. M&S found India to be‘a very exciting opportunity for M&S’ and Reliance Retail fit the bill as the ideal partner for M&S to accelerate its expansion plans and create opportunities to open much bigger M&S stores across India. Impressed by Reliance’s their strength in technology, logistics and property and from the fact that it is a major player in India's organised retail sector, M&S unquestionably decided extend a proposition of partnership to Reliance Retail. The venture was signed two years ago and cites M&S as 51 per cent stakeholder in the company, with Reliance India taking on the remaining 49 per cent.
M&S and Reliance Retail venture seeks to set up former’s stores across major cities in India. At present, 24 such stores have been launched across the country.Lately, M&S has been working towards sourcing 70% of its merchandise from India, a task being headed by Jones up till now. While other international companies have eyed India as an interesting and emerging market, M&S clearly identifies India as a market of importance for its business. The retailer increased local sourcing from 38% in 2010 to 50% in 2011 and almost tripled stores sizes to about 20,000 sq ft. To be able to expand the reach and appeal of brand Marks and Spencer in India, the company has even tweaked its prices to match Indian price points, mostly by sharing margins of local sourcing with consumers.
The joint venture now seeks to increase its store count to 50 by next year.