I met a couple of students from a prominent B school yesterday. Graduating in Retail, they had come to discuss placements for the current batch. They asked me the average salary I think freshers could get ( at my small company and the likes) . I thought of an honest number and padded it by 20%. They both gave me the look of disbelief, the kind that says ‘ you can’t be serious’ ! After they had left, I was wondering if I was really out of touch. Last week a student of mine at a B school that I sometimes teach at wrote me an e mail asking me my opinion on the current Jobs scenario and the average CTC that he could expect. After I replied, I never heard back from him.

I spoke with the HR head of a mid size Retail company – she coincidentally called me to find what was happening about jobs at the senior level ! She said, my assessment of average salaries was optimistic and quite correct. So I know I am in touch and we should all know by the end of the next year which was the game is going. 

I read yesterday that Reliance Retail will not renew contracts of 2000 contractual employees ! A very senior person at RKHS mentioned to me that most senior staff above a particular CTC have been asked to ease out. We all know what’s happening with Jet and IA. Retail will feel the tremors too.

In the US there has been a spate of closures. Today TOI says that retailer Eddie Bauer has closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plans to close few more by the end of the year. Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes will close about 150 underperforming stores this year. The Talbots group announced that it will close Talbots Kids and Talbots Mens Concepts by end of the year – in all 78 Talbots stores will close down. Walt Disney said it has also obtained the right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the US. Gap has announced plans to close 85 Old Navy and Banana Republic stores as it continues to struggle to attract customers. Ann Taylor will close 117 stores between 2008 and 2010. A large number of Indian Exporters are suppliers to these brands and the implications for them could be fatal.

Retailers in India, havn’t come to the bridge yet. New formats and expansions are announced every day. The ‘pundits’ predict a growth rate of 30 % for the industry and the forerunners say that the ‘gloom’ around the Retail Industry is false. Touch wood.