With market conditions remaining tough for the foreseeable future, what trends can we expect in retail recruitment over the coming months?
The retail jobs merry-go-round has already swung back into life, with Humphrey Singer leaving Dixons Carphone for the CFO role at M&S, and Debenhams hiring former Tesco executive Richard Jones to head up its global sourcing operation.
But I want to use my first article of 2018 to make some predictions about the kind of trends I expect to see in recruitment this year.
Christmas trading suggests that non-food businesses have had a tough quarter, and although the grocery trade has held up well, much of the growth can be attributed to price inflation.
CEOs I speak to say that if you’re a predominantly UK-based retailer, you’re in a challenging place right now with consumers keeping close control of their spending and the spectre of Brexit looming larger every day.
Although we’re not in a recessionary period, people in the know believe there is a very real danger that we will talk ourselves into one because of the unique set of challenges the country faces.
Impact on jobs
What does this mean for the jobs market? In one sense it means that business is buoyant. Usually December is a quiet month, but we were receiving new enquiries right up until Christmas weekend.
It seems the golden quarter no longer applies just to retailers but also to businesses involved in retail executive search too.
Our forecast is for the current quarter to be just as busy with retailers keen to know what talent is available.
Companies that have performed below expectations over Christmas are looking to freshen things up, while those that have met or exceeded expectations are looking to bring in new talent to help kick-start the next financial year.
Businesses are acting quickly to address any weaknesses because they know that in the current environment it can take up to nine months to get new people on board.
Head-office budgets are stretched and employers are making people work right up until the end of their notice periods. We’re also carrying out a more thorough search process than ever before since clients simply can’t afford to get recruitment decisions wrong.
“We’re also seeing some seriously talented candidates unable to find a job, which makes it even more important for those in post to perform well”
At Anthony Gregg, we are strengthening our leadership assessment division for key hires, undertaking psychometric testing as standard, and putting together diverse lists of fully referenced candidates to meet client expectations.
We’re also seeing a growth in interim appointments among retailers that want individuals who are immediately available and can hit the ground running.
We expect roles in ecommerce, multichannel, supply chain and trading to continue to form the bulk of our assignments, reflecting the need for retail businesses to constantly evolve and adapt to changing market conditions.
Director-level candidates and those one level below the board are in high demand; more so than candidates at mid-senior management level.
And when big appointments are made, businesses expect a bounce in performance, in much the same way that football clubs expect an instant upturn in results following the appointment of a new manager.
We’re also seeing some seriously talented candidates unable to find a job, which makes it even more important for those in post to perform well. It’s no longer sufficient to do an okay job, businesses need their top people to excel.
So in summary, 2018 is set to be another challenging year, but a rewarding one for retailers that can attract and retain the best talent, and for candidates who can add real value to their employers.
Major moves this month
|Name||Job role||Previous company / company exiting||Company joining||Job role|
|Kenyatte Nelson||Group Marketing Director||Shop Direct||Missguided||Chief Customer Officer|
|Vic Self||Customer Director||Dixons Carphone||M&S||Digital Director of Clothing, Home and Food|
|Simon Coble||UK Managing Director||The Body Shop||John Lewis||Partnership Strategy Director|
|Craig Fletcher||Senior Vice President of Esports and Founder of its recently offloaded Multiplay acquisition||Game|
|Andy Dopson||Head of Belong Division and Gaming Zones||Internal promotion||Game||Head of Esports and Belong|
|Nick Wilkinson||Chief Executive||Evans Cycles||Dunelm||Chief Executive|
|Steven Cook||Holt Renfrew, Canada||Debenhams||Fashion and Home Managing Director|
|Richard Cristofoli||Marketing Director||Internal promotion||Debenhams||Managing Director of Beauty, Beauty Services and Marketing|
|Paula Dumont Lopez||Head of Basics and Espirit’s Head of Womenswear||Ex-Zara||Primark||Trading Director|