Companies

DMart faces operational issues as staff attendance decline drastically

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on March 26, 2020 Published on March 26, 2020

The 21-day coronavirus lockdown in India has brought DMart’s operations to a near standstill. Despite having sufficient inventory, DMart is grappling with managing its stores and product delivery due to a shortage of staff. Over 90 per cent of DMart’s employees are unable to make it to the stores in some cities because of the Coronavirus lockdown, said a spokesperson.

In an appeal on its website DMart said: “In the wake of the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, there is speculation about the availability of grocery items and other essentials. We understand your concerns and would like to assure you that we have adequate stocks of groceries and other essential items.”

Avenue Supermarts-owned DMart is an 18-year-old company multi-story hypermarket chain. It is currently present in 206 locations across India.

In response to BusinessLine’s query, a DMart spokesperson said, “We have sufficient stock of daily essentials, but we do not have enough employees coming to work.”

As of Tuesday, DMart outlets in certain cities had recorded 70-80 per cent of employee attendance.

However, Wednesday onwards, “Our staff attendance is down by 80-90 per cent in certain cities. Only 10-20 per cent of the workforce is able to come,” said the spokesperson.

DMart said that it needed help from the government authorities “to explain and communicate to workers and employees at large engaged in essential commodities and essential services to come back to work.“

Some cities like Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Mumbai in Maharashtra had a complete lockdown where the stores were not allowed to function despite clear mandates from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

In a regulatory filing on March 23, the company had said, “Some of our stores have remained closed for operations on certain days based on the directive by the local authorities.”

To add to the woes for the retail-chain in other cities, “We are being told to operate for only 2-3 hours in certain cities,” said the spokesperson. This makes it extremely difficult to manage social distancing for the company’s employees.

DMart’s spokesperson said that it is taking complete precautions of safety but lack of support from local authorities, DMart and customers are facing troubles. “We are unable to service demand for essential food products like dal and rice,” the person added.

According to experts, the paranoia around the lack of availability of products is leading to panic buying. Harsha Razdan, Partner and Head - Consumer Markets and Internet Business, KPMG in India, said that when people are guided to social distancing, it is logical to expect them to over-stock on essentials.

The company, on its website, put up an appeal requesting customers ‘to not overstock items and shop only as per normal household needs.’

DMart Ready is the company’s online venture which was launched in 2018. It essentially has multiple delivery centres or pick-up points in catchment areas, where it has a store so that customers can order online and pick up products from there.

“Our slots are fully booked,” said DMart Ready on its online portal. It further added, “We have adequate stocks but not enough staff to serve the high demand.” The company’s call centre is also experiencing a high-load of queries, it added. “Please bear with us as we work hard to add more slots. Kindly check back in a couple of days,” DMart appealed.

According to a few experts, if lesser staff and piling orders continue, it is likely to hamper the retail supply chain drastically soon.

On March 24, the Prime Minister of India called for a nation-wide coronavirus lockdown as the number of Coronavirus positive cases crossed 500. Before that, several state governments in phases had already called for partial or complete lockdowns.

Though, the government had said that essential items and grocery would be available to the masses, despite that a sea of people could be seen on the roads.

After the announcement of the on March 24, an incident was reported outside DMart outlet in Mumbai, where people were seen arguing with the security guards.

Published on March 26, 2020
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