Retail news round-up July 25, 2013: Abercrombie & Fitch recruitment policy investigated, M&S autumn womenswear launches and eBay tests hire site in the UK.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s employment record to be probed in France

France rights watchdog, Defender of Rights, will investigate Abercrombie & Fitch, which is known for its shirtless good-looking salesmen, over concerns that the US retailer discriminates in hiring store staff based on appearance. Abercrombie’s website recruitment section refers to salesmen and women as “models”.

In a statement explaining the investigation, head of the organisation Dominique Baudis said that Abercrombie seems “to base its recruitment methods on discriminatory criteria and particularly on physical appearance”, The Telegraph reported.

M&S’s autumn womenswear line under new management launches in store today

Marks & Spencer’s first clothing line under new boss Belinda Earl launched in store today.

The last two years have seen negative growth in M&S’ clothing and homewares sales and chief executive Marc Bolland is under pressure from shareholders to show a marked improvement this autumn.

EBay tests service hire website in the UK

EBay is testing a new local service provider marketplace in the UK called eBayHire. The site will allow users to get in touch with specialised service providers, TechCrunch reported.

An eBay spokesperson said: “eBay Hire is a pilot program in beta currently only available in the United Kingdom that connects consumers with local services.”

Debenhams recalls thousands of electric blankets over fire risk

Department store Debenhams has recalled ten thousand electric blankets amid fears they may “catch fire”. Debenhams said it was recalling two makes of its “Sleeping Beauty” electric blankets after complaints from a handful of customers, The Telegraph reported.

The company said no blankets had over-heated and no fires had been caused, but tests would be carried out to “ascertain” the risks.

HobbyCraft launches affiliate marketing scheme

Arts and crafts retailer HobbyCraft appointed global performance network Affiliate Window for the launch of its first ever performance marketing programme.

Affiliate Window will work alongside HobbyCraft and Clear New Media to assist the brand in growing a targeted publisher base of relevant bloggers and industry specific affiliate partners, UTalkMarketing reported.

HobbyCraft expects performance marketing to become a key component of multichannel strategy as it is a direct way to reach their target audience and offers a measurable return on investment.