The creation of a company culture is essential to successful succession planning, the World Retail Congress was told.

Shopper’s Stop chief executive BS Nagesh and Strategy Luxury Advisors chief executive Concetta Lanciaux both said that establishing a distinct company culture helped ensure the correct management was installed when incumbents moved on.

Nagesh, who built Indian store group Shopper’s Stop from scratch, said he had developed a transparent system so that both those destined for senior positions and those who at any point missed out on moves up understood the reasons why.

“Nobody in our company gets promoted on the boss’s recommendation,” he said. “Retaining people is because we have transparency. One of the biggest [issues to address] is someone asking why someone else got the job.

“What’s important is the culture. You have to be able to create an organisation where the values tell you very clearly what the culture is.”

He said that Shopper’s Stop used an assessment system - known as the kangaroo programme - to nurture and develop staff. It has enabled the retailer to retain and promote a high proportion of staff internally and Shopper’s Stop has seconded staff to other big retailers such as Marks & Spencer to foster particular skills and experience.

Lanciaux, who worked with LVMH to move it from being a family run to a professionally managed business, said that too much emphasis can be put on formal measures of effective management.

She argued: “It’s important to establish a culture. Organisations don’t progress through rules.”