Thursday 2 May 2019

Myntra to stay independent: Walmart's Judith McKenna to employees

Fashion e-tailer Myntra-Jabong will continue to stay independent, a top Walmartexecutive reiterated on Tuesday, amid talks of increased integration with its parent Flipkart, according to people in the know of the matter.

Walmart's international division president and CEO, Judith McKenna, was in Bengaluru on a two-day visit where she addressed a town hall at Myntra, allaying concerns raised by employees about alignment with Flipkart's fashion unit. Her visit comes close on the heels of Walmart CEO Doug McMillon's India trip where he reviewed the Flipkart group's operations.

McKenna was joined by Flipkart group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Amar Nagaram, the head of Myntra-Jabong.

The Myntra-Jabong combine has witnessed restructuring of its top deck since November 2018, leading to the departure of its CEO Ananth Narayanan. Besides the senior management churn, Jabong's staff count was reduced by 40% as more than 200 people were asked to leave and a sense of apprehension set in among Myntra employees about a possible merger of teams with Flipkart.

The 53-year-old McKenna runs the $118-billion international business for the brick-and-mortar retailer, and was responsible for stitching together the Flipkart deal last year. McKenna, who sits on the board of the e-commerce major, was accompanied by Walmart International CFO Richard Mayfield, a person in the know said.

India will remain a high-growth market where Walmart intends to pour in investments, she said, adding some of the in-house brands from Myntra's stable would go global. She also highlighted how the e-tailer was problem-solving through technology, design and innovation.

McMillon and McKenna's India trips coincide with the upcoming one-year anniversary of Walmart's acquisition of Flipkart for $16 billion. Since May 2018, the domestic e-commerce industry has undergone changes with the implementation of fresh FDI norms and the imminent entry of Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries into online retail, which is also expected to shake up the market.

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