It’s not the economy. It’s not the competition moving in next door. What really concerns retailers is the difficulty of finding new talent, at least according to a survey of 135 chief executive officers and presidents conducted by the Herbert Mines Associates search firm, WWD and Equation Research.
The survey posed the question: “What keeps you up at night?” The biggest concern expressed was talent acquisition and development, said Hal Reiter, chairman and ceo of Herbert Mines. “Ninety percent do not believe that the retail industry is attracting the best and brightest from college campuses. It’s a problem.”
Overall, there is a lack of satisfaction with the talent pool in retailing. “About half [in the survey] thought the skills and expertise needed to fill the C-suite are not available,” and, consequently, 74 percent said they plan to recruit from outside the retail industry for leadership.
That means retailers must invest more in training and skill development. Some do, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gap and Toys ‘R’ Us, which Reiter credited for running effective training programs. Nevertheless, “the retention rate of kids is almost zero after two years,” he added.
“Why haven’t we typically attracted best entry-level talent? The number-one reason is that sexy careers are elsewhere — in banking, consulting, in anything else besides retailing,” Reiter said. There is also a widespread perception that the first few years in retailing can be a drag. “You sit at a computer and look at a spreadsheet for the first five years,” Reiter said.
But he sees some hope. “I am here to tell you the landscape has changed. It’s a new day. The convergence of technology and social media and recent developments in the economy give us great reason to be optimistic. Now working in retail is sexy. This shift in the environment is attracting the younger generation. Now is a great time of opportunity.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s not about salary and stock options. It’s about career development,” Reiter said. “You must give them more opportunities to grow faster.”
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Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews