The cub is prowling out from the territory from which the brand had first originated, 150 years ago. Every new occurrence and experience gets stored into memory, possibly a valuable blueprint for future business gambits. The 23-year-old scion of a huge and highly successful business conglomerate seems ready to shoulder the burden of the vast expectations placed on him. Meet the affable Shashwat Goenka, heir to the R P Sanjiv Goenka Group and Sector Head of Spencer’s Retail Ltd
It’s Shashwat’s first visit to Chennai and what brings him from one capital (Kolkata where the group is based) to another capital is, well, business. He was here recently to inaugurate the city’s first Spencer’s hyperstore at Velachery – offering a mammoth 15,000 products in its 23,000 sqft area. “It feels good to be here and it’s my first time in this city. Already, I have met a lot of different people, whom I thought were warm and down-to-earth,” says Shashwat.
Getting back to business, what’s the hyper element, we wonder. “Spencer’s retail outlets,” he begins, “operate on three different levels – the dailies, the super markets and the hyperstores. The newly opened one falls in the last category and it offers everything from general merchandise, to fresh foods to staples to personal care. There’s a live bakery here consisting of 70-80 different products. You could, for instance, order a cake and it would be ready within two-three hours. Besides regional foods, we are also focussing on international foods, for which we have imported items from 30 different countries. Organic, which falls under the gourmet tag is very well covered with 250 products on display and there is also an elaborate section for fresh products including veggies and fruits, as well as the local assortment consisting of murukkus, pickles, appalams, etc.”
Hyperstores could well be the engine that takes the company’s retail business forward and as Shashwat reveals, feature largely in the scheme of things. “For us, hyperstores are the way we want to grow and already we have 25 such stores, with the 26th one having been opened in Kolkata recently and the one in Chennai being the 27th. We began in Tamil Nadu and so we are back here again. This year Spencer’s completes 150 years of its presence in Chennai (In 1863, a Spencer’s outlet opened at Mount Road) and we thought it a good idea to capitalise on that and start a hyperstore,” and continues, “The store will have the longest operational hours – from 7 am to 10 pm,” pipes in Mukherji, the chief group advisor, who accompanied Shashwat, “It is a city of early risers, we are told.” Opening of such stores means, of course, more jobs for people, specifically women who form a greater part of the workforce. In fact, it is a Goenka tradition to employ women with group company Harrisons Malayalam Ltd.
The time spent as an internee at Spencer’s as part of the merchandising team was helpful in his learning the ropes. Shashwat, who keeps to a 10-hour work routine each day, is just two months into his new role as Sector head of Spencer’s Retail. So its early days yet, but thankfully he has a strong mentor – his father. Two cc’s dominate his free time – cooking and carpentry. Says Shashwat: “Cooking for me means relaxation. I cook for fun though it may be not very well. As for carpentry, blame it on theatre, where I was forced to build a lot!”