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Focus on: Human Resources

BY Connie Robbins Gentry

When it comes time to hire a new store manager or assistant manager, many retailers often rely on a tactic that industry insiders refer to as “raid-the-mall recruiting.” While this gets the job done, it usually results in hiring the first available rather than the best-qualified candidate.

But Canton, Mass.-based Casual Male Retail Group, which operates some 475 stores nationwide, was one retailer that found this approach did not end well, primarily because its customer is not a typical shopper. The company caters to the big-and-tall segment of male shoppers—who, for the most part, do not enjoy shopping—and it became increasingly evident that store managers needed to move from a transaction-based mentality to one of customer engagement.

“When our approach to customers shifted, the requirements for our positions shifted,” explained Dennis Hernreich, executive VP, COO and CFO of Casual Male. “Prior to this cultural shift, store management didn’t always take the opportunity to build customer relationships.”

Hernreich explained that customers who shop at Casual Male stores often need help putting together a wardrobe because the sizes are challenging.

“Customers tend to become impatient, and store managers have to read a customer’s body language and respond,” he added.

As the company migrated to its new customer-centric model, the challenge was determining how to identify and recruit professional managers with strong people skills. Casual Male turned to Headway Corporate Resources, a workforce solutions provider that utilizes technology-driven sourcing and customized assessment processes to recruit candidates based on a company’s personnel profile for top-performing workers.

The standardized, automated system provides an objective solution to what was previously a subjective, random process. Since launching in February, Headway has screened more than 15,000 applicants for the men’s clothing retailer.

Although Casual Male used an online application process previously, it did not incorporate centralized screening and behavioral assessment analytics to determine an individual’s suitability for management. Additionally, the recruiting process was time-intensive for district store managers (DSMs).

With the new, multi-level assessment program, applicants are fully screened online, and preliminary interviews are completed by workforce management professionals at Headway. The fully automated filtering process narrows a typical field of 1,000 applicants to roughly 30 of the most qualified, who then complete the interview process. From these interviews, Headway refers the top two candidates to Casual Male for final interviews.

In the first six months of relying on Headway, Casual Male hired approximately 232 store management personnel. The retailer also reduced the number of DSMs from 36 to 32, primarily because the more efficient recruitment processes allowed the number of stores in a district to be increased. Six of the current 32 DSMs were recruited through the new screening process.

Although it is too early to measure ROI, Hernreich stated, “We are very pleased with the results; our sales productivity this year is above the decrease in traffic, and comp sales are [trending] positive for the year.”

Additionally, the average time to fill a management slot was reduced by approximately 50%, and the program enabled DSMs to focus on revenue-producing activities rather than recruitment.

Initially, some of the managers were reluctant to accept the new system because they perceived it as a loss of control.

“Once they saw the flow of candidates we got through the new process, the DSMs realized these applicants were better than the pool of candidates previously,” acknowledged Walter Sprague, Casual Male’s senior VP HR. “It’s not a loss of control so much as a change of control. Any time a DSM finds a person who might be a good fit, all he has to do is put the candidate into the Headway process.”

Existing store associates who wish to be considered for open management slots go through the same analysis and evaluation in order to ensure they are the best-suited candidate for the position.

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Kmart launches Smart Sense

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Kmart announced the expansion of its brand portfolio with the introduction of the Smart Sense line, its new Kmart brand that includes a wide range of items including everything from snacks and beverages, to oral care, paper products, household cleaners and over-the-counter medications. The quality of the Smart Sense line is comparable to that of national name brands, and on average costs 20% less, according to the company.

"With the introduction of the Smart Sense line, Kmart is looking to offer a more affordable Kmart brand product assortment that will rival the quality of more nationally recognized brands," said Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer, Kmart. "While the Smart Sense line will offer the everyday essentials, Kmart is also taking it a step further by providing unique products that you wouldn’t typically expect to see under a store brand."

The Smart Sense line currently consists of hundreds of products available in Kmart stores and the product line will expand to more than 1,200 items by early 2011, the company reported. Kmart said it will also support the Smart Sense line launch through multiple communications channels, including advertising, coupon offers, merchandising displays, sampling, digital marketing and event marketing.

In addition to the introduction of the Smart Sense line, a new look has been created for many other Kmart brand products, the company reported. The brighter and more vibrant packaging has been designed to capture the "colorful thinking" Kmart is demonstrating through its new product and brand announcements. In addition to the Smart Sense line roll-out, Kmart is also introducing products in a re-launch of its other exclusive brands, which include, Little Ones baby care products, Champion Breed pet care products, Image Essentials personal care products and VitaSmart vitamin products.

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Target to open ten stores on 10/10/10

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target announced that it will open 10 stores across the country, resulting in the creation of more than 2,400 jobs.

The stores will open in the following communities:

 

    * Sacramento East: 6507 4th Ave., Sacramento, Calif.     * Simi Valley West: 51 Tierra Rejada Rd., Simi Valley, Calif.     * Bakersfield Central: 2901 Ming Ave., Bakersfield, Calif.     * San Jose North: 95 Holger Way, San Jose, Calif.     * Azusa: 809 Azusa Ave., Azusa, Calif.     * Salt Lake City: 1110 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah     * Little Rock University: 420 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark.     * Christiana: 800 Christiana Mall, Christiana, Del.     * Flushing: 4024 College Point Blvd., Flushing, N.Y.     * Braintree: 250 Granite St., Braintree, Mass.

 

“These new Target store openings will help support local economies and make life easier for our guests by creating new jobs, spurring development and providing the utmost in convenience and value,” said John Griffith, EVP property development for Target. “We are looking forward to deepening our relationship with guests in communities across the country.”

As part of the grand opening celebrations, Target said each store will contribute to its community by initiating a local grant program, contributing to the United Way, donating food to Feeding America and product to the local Goodwill chapter and encouraging team members to volunteer their time to serve their community.

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