I'm More Than My Surname: Shashwat Goenka
Claim to Fame: Son of Business Tycoon Sanjiv Goenka
Even as a kid whenever Shashwat used to go shopping, he was never interested in buying things, he was keen to know why shoppers shop the way they shop. Even as a grownup he had more affinity towards consumer facing companies.
After finishing his graduation from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, working with KPMG and Nestle, Shashwat joined the family business in 2012 working across various group companies. The above instances showcase why out of the various businesses under the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group Shashwat got interested in Spencer’s. On how the learning platform has been, Shashwat says, “The advantage with retail is if you take a decision tomorrow you can actually evaluate it by next week, so you don’t have to wait for months unlike other businesses.” In 2013, once Shashwat was made incharge he brought in a lot of processes, which he found lacking in the business. His next focus area was reducing cost across stores.
When he started Spencer’s had a loss of -23 crore a month. Right now it is -1.2 to 2 crore a month. However, Shashwat still doesn’t consider it an achievement. On when he will count it as a major change, Shashwat says, “Last year in May we broke even just for a month. But it has not been consistent. Retail is a very low-margin business. In a year it will break even. Next year we expect it to be running profitably.” Currently, Spencer’s has 120 stores out of which 37 are hypermarkets and the rest are convenience stores.
Though spread across the country Spencer’s dominates in North, East and South India. Shashwat also played an active role in the acquisition of BPO Firstsource Solutions. Another acquisition marking the retail arm’s entry into e-commerce was buyout of meragrocer.com. Talking about learning the art from his grandfather Late R P Goenka who has been known to be a takeover master, Shashwat reminisces, “He used to say just think beyond, there is nothing that’s not possible.”
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (August 2016 Issue).