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Testimonial Manager

Managing a severe downturn in retail

Managing a severe downturn in retail

A specialist in Logistics and IT, Rabah Melliti has recently been working as an interim manager.

How long have you been an interim transition manager?

It’s very recent. I took on my first client engagement last May for three months. And I will be starting a new assignment in December.

What has been your career until now?

After my engineering training I quickly specialized in supply chain and logistics. I worked in a large number of firms from automotive to retail where I became logistics director and CIO. I have also recently been working as a consultant.

Can you describe your first interim assignment?

Delville Management contacted me because they felt that my profile was a good match for the proposed mission. The context: a retail chain had to close a number of stores as part of a rationalization plan. My mission, working as part of a dedicated team, was to close a store with 50 employees in the Paris area. It was no longer profitable. My task was to manage the closure as smoothly as possible from a human, financial and commercial point of view.

A difficult situation. How did the assignment turn out?

The spectre of closure sparked a difficult industrial relations climate. The staff were highly unionized, in a region marked by numerous site closures and social unrest. Working at a local level, I had to manage the redundancy plan in the most humane manner but without aggravating already substantial financial deficits. In the end, it went well. We avoided a strike, as the financial and reclassification proposals in the redundancy plan were, admittedly, fairly generous. Employees who wanted to work elsewhere in the group were able to do so, joining other stores near their home. From an operational perspective, throughout my mission, I reported to a general manager in charge of the redundancy plan, based at headquarters.

In the light of this first experience, what do you think of interim management?

This type of work is very stimulating intellectually. This kind of assignment is arduous, complicated, all-involving. To succeed, it is imperative to focus on the given scope and objectives and not bcome side-tracked by other issues.

What qualities do you need to have to be a good interim manager?

Apart from solid expertise in the relevant subject area, the interim manager has to force through change while relentlessly driving implementation.

Why should a company hire this kind of manager?

The cost is low relative to the level of professional expertise and especially for an assignment that is strictly limited in time. Often, the company does not have these skills in-house. Or he would mobilize 2 or 3 employees to develop this skill, which is unrealistic.