Shaky on the top!

Attrition moves up the ladder to the top level.
high-level attrition

When we talk of attrition in retail, we usually refer to the lower end of the spectrum, however, lately, the focus has shifted to the top of the shack. About 15 and over shifts reported in the past three months. Is something shaky up there?

Some move, some don’t

While some brands see a lot of movement, others relatively don’t. Brands like Adidas, Pepsi, Aditya Birla, Reckitt Benckiser, Marks and Spencer and the likes have seen some top executives moving in and out lately on the other hand, at ITC, it has almost been zero at senior levels for the past 15 years. HUL also has been able to hold together its people for a long time and over half of the 1,500 managers are lifers. A common saying for HUL is that you can ‘Take a man out of Lever but never Lever out of a man.’

Stating reasons for the same, Jyorden Misra, Managing Director, Spearhead Intersearch tells, “Some organisations build in the culture from the very beginning. They bring in quality talent even at the entry level and also indulge in talent engagement and grooming techniques that act as tools that give a clear unfolding of the career road map for an employee. These companies can be termed as ‘Talent factories’. Others which do not focus so much on such programme see higher level of attrition.”

So, it can be said that a company’s operations and strategies are what influence the employee’s decision for staying or quitting the brand.

Grounds for switch

The reason that most of us would like to believe that initiates these shifts is ‘handsome remuneration'; well the answer is not so much. A brand’s working environment and its transparency in operation are the top grounds for attritions at the top level. Misra tells, “Higher executives may compromise on financial rewards, but with the brands transparency diluting it is most certain that they will not operate in that environment.”

The anticipated retail boom had paved way for astronomical salaries and the hiring of professionals who were believed to turn around businesses. But, with the reality unfolding and the expected not happening, cost structure burden took its toll. This also engulfed the move to downscale higher cost employees. Better prospective in other industries also acts as an attractor. Those who moved from other industries in lieu of retail anticipation also moved back to their respective industries.

According to a theory devised by Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman & Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants , “As the cash inflow drops, the human outflow increases. If the industry is growing very fast, there will be a need for a few more good professionals to be wooed by many more new companies and not only would attract top professionals from within the industry, but also top professionals from other industries.”

Impinge on Brand & Industry

The moving away of a higher official can render some upheaval within the company and also outside. These are usually not very significant as they carry the sense of responsibility at the level they operate at. For brands, the effect is usually internal as people get used to the working styles of a leader they have worked under and may take time to adjust to the new instructions. While some may adjust, some may call it quits. For the consumers, it can create a sense of confusion following some change in the product. Purnendu Kumar, Associate Vice President, Technopak says, “Different vision and ways of operation can create confusion. The customer is usually unaware of the attritions unless they see a difference in the product.” Adding to this, Kapoor says, “The entry or the exit of professionals is not important. However, the duration of the stay and the contribution during that stay is more important. If the industry is making many mistakes, some top professionals may not only leave the company, but may also leave the industry.

"Any resignation at top creates ripple effect which is not just limited to brand. It all depends how swiftly top management acts to fill the void. Recent experience says that it is not always negative. Sometimes new talent with fresh ideas infuses new excitement within the targeted space therefore better brand value in the mind of end users in mid/long term", says James Agrawal, Consulting Director & Head, BTI Consultants.

Bounty modus operandi seldom works at this level. Once a decision is made, these professionals usually stand by it.

Magnet industry

Executives who are resigning may either move within the industry or outside it. While some may move back to the industry they have come from, others move towards the shining sectors. With FMCG topping the list, others follow closely. Misra tells, “Consumer industries, FMCG, e-commerce led firms and the education sector are the major attractors. Besides, these VC firms, high end consulting firms and private equity firms are drawing higher professionals.”

The ‘inside’ scoop

Most of the news that comes of a resignation brings along the reason for it that is spread out to everyone. But have you ever thought if that was precisely the reason why they quit? Ever wondered what the inside story may be? While some may have given a voluntary resignation, others may have been forced to do so. Enough of an indication, but to say it out loud, some may have been kicked out owing to malpractices.

To leave you with a thought, in Kapoor’s words, “Rarely do designations or resignations tell the full story.”


Resigned / Promoted Joined Year
Adidas as MD No news March 2012
Vishnu Bhagat Adidas as COO No news March 2012
Varun Berry PepsiCo as CEO No news Feb 2012
Pratik Pota
PepsiCo as Executive Director, South
Market Unit
NourishCo as Chief Executive
Officer and MD
Jan 2012
Arun Sirdeshmukh Reliance Trends as CEO  Own online venture  March2012
Benu Sehgal
International Recreation Parks Pvt Ltd (IRPPL) as Vice President, Operations
DLF Place- VP & Head Jan 2012
Darshana Shah
Worked previously for Reliance Value  
Retail, Future group and Shoppers Stop
HyperCity- Head- Marketing, VM,Loyalty & Space on Hire Feb 2012
Gopal Vittal
HUL as Executive Director, Home and Personal Care business
Airtel- Group Director- Special projects
Jan 2012


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