H&M is hiring — at least in the U.S.
The Swedish retailer will next week open its 13th New York City unit and its biggest store in the world, a 65,000-square-foot giant on West 34th Street where Broadway and Avenue of the Americas converge. To staff it — and the other sites it’s planning to aggressively open in America — the company on Thursday launched its first-ever national campaign to hire thousands of employees.
H&M in the U.S. operates 360 stores and is opening 60 this year.
The retailer is touting its sustainability efforts — H&M is the biggest user of organic cotton in the world — and has pioneered worker safety-related initiatives in countries such as Bangladesh. It also prides itself on its corporate culture, which it says is more culture and less corporate.
The hiring campaign comes at a time when many retailers are trying to put their firms in the best light and are realizing that good customer service correlates to job satisfaction. Everyone from Gap to TJX to Wal-Mart has said that they will raise the minimum wage of hourly associates.
Standing Wednesday in the new flagship that will bow on May 20, Daniel Kulle, president of H&M North America, said the retailer will continue to operate its two existing stores on West 34th Street as it scours the city for new opportunities. One of the existing units at 1328 Broadway is directly across the street from the upcoming flagship. The other is one block west at 435 Seventh Avenue and 34th Street.
To staff the new flagship and position the company for growth — Kulle said the retailer’s other concepts including Cheap Monday and COS will expand — H&M wants creative talent and self-starters. “We have 13 stores in Manhattan and they’re all successful,” he said. “We’re looking all over and we’re not excluding anything.”
H&M interviewed 300 of its employees, asking them what makes the company a good place to work and created a video. “We’re branding H&M as a place of possibilities. We’re seeing the future,” Kulle said. “We have possibilities for expansion in the U.S. and we’re keen to get even more talent. We’re looking for creative people who can take ownership of a store. We’ll give them the keys to the store, so to speak.”
Kulle declined to reveal how many people it seeks to hire, but said, “We’re going to open over 60 stores this year. Those stores will need a lot of retail talent.”
Claiming that H&M promoted 4,500 people in the U.S. over the last five years, Kulle said the company pays about 24 percent above minimum wage in New York City, and 20 percent higher in other parts of the country.
In addition to the usual pensions, 401-K, and medical and dental benefits, he said H&M offers more exotic benefits such as pet insurance and a day off for birthdays.