Wal-Mart India appoints Murali Lanka as COO

Wal-Mart India Pvt. Ltd, wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer has appointed Murali Lanka as its new chief operating officer (COO) effective from December 1, 2014. He would take over a position which got vacant last month as Arvind Mediratta moved to Wal-Mart US.

Murali will report to Krish Iyer, president and CEO, Wal-Mart India, and will lead store operations, sales and business development, membership and marketing and asset protection functions for the Best Price Modern Wholesale stores, owned and operated by Wal-Mart India.

Krish Iyer said, “Murali's depth of knowledge and global experience will bring a fresh perspective to our business. He is a veteran at Wal-Mart with almost 25 years in the company. Therefore, I firmly believe that his passion and experience in food and general merchandise and commitment to e-commerce will help us serve our customers even more effectively in the years to come.”

Murali joined Wal-Mart in 1989 and played various roles in the Sam’s Club. In 2008, he came to India as the head of operations. He spent five years in the India business before repatriating to US in 2013 as the developmental regional general manager in the Texas division.

In his earlier stint at Wal-Mart India, Murali played a key role in setting up the Best Price Modern Wholesale format in India. Under his leadership, Wal-Mart India opened 20 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores.

This development comes at a time when Wal-Mart is trying to rebuild its India strategy after a break off with its local partner Bharti Retail.

Wal-Mart bought Bharti Enterprises in their equal equity wholesale retail joint venture Bharti Walmart Pvt Ltd, marking a split in their retail venture. This gave Wal-Mart 100 per cent ownership of the 20 Best Price Modern Wholesale cash and carry business, which is open to only other sellers. FDI up to 100 per cent is allowed in wholesale retail business.

Bharti continues to independently operate neighbourhood retail chains under the Easyday brand spread across the north India region besides states like Maharashtra in the west and Karnataka in the south.

Early this year, Wal-Mart appointed Krish Iyer as president and CEO of Wal-Mart India.

Wal-Mart's first wholesale store opened in Amritsar in May 2009. The company plans to open 50 more stores by 2020. Wal-Mart India launched its B2B e-commerce platform exclusively for its members in July 2014 in two stores in Lucknow and Hyderabad, taking it to two more stores in Guntur and Vijaywada in October.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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