Marks & Spencer has hired Julian Richer to advise it on culture change and staff communication, Retail Week can reveal.
He is understood to have been working with M&S for a matter of weeks and is focused on engagement, motivation and driving cultural change through staff communication.
Richer, who founded Richer Sounds, is viewed as a major influence on retail’s staffing culture.
He is famous for giving staff access to holiday homes in the UK and abroad, awarding cash handouts so employees can brainstorm in the pub and for encouraging staff to come up with business improvement suggestions.
The original branch of Richer Sounds at London Bridge became famous for generating the highest sales per sq ft of any shop in the world, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
In 2013, he bequeathed his business to his staff, setting up a partnership model similar to that of John Lewis.
During the 1990s, he worked with the then Asda boss Archie Norman, who recently became chairman of M&S.
Recalling the Asda period, Richer once said in a Management Today interview: “I don’t advise people because I need the money, I do it because I enjoy working on a bigger stage.
“Here were superstores with a middle-aged, unmotivated, part-time workforce sitting on the checkouts on shitty wages. To get 70,000 people doing something that originated from an idea of yours is phenomenally satisfying. It proved to me that the philosophy can be interpreted across the board.”
His skills are likely to benefit M&S as it undergoes change as part of chief executive Steve Rowe’s turnaround strategy.
The retailer is currently working with “an army” of external experts, he has said.
As revealed by Retail Week, supply chain guru Lawrence Christensen has also joined M&S as an external consultant. It is also working with ClubCard masterminds Edwina Dunn and Clive Humby on customer insight and personalisation.
M&S is attempting to engineer the biggest turnaround in retail, stemming falling food sales, stopping decades-long decline at its clothing arm and restructuring its costly store estate.