OPERATIONS

Kronos report: Retail hiring conditions tighten

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chelmsford, Mass. — A report released Thursday by Kronos Inc. showed that hiring conditions among retailers are tightening, suggesting an improvement in the industry.

The Kronos Retail Labor Index jumped to 4.1% in January 2012 from a downwardly revised 3.4% in December 2011. (This index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.) This was the second reading above 4.0% since October 2008 and primarily reflected a sharp decline in applications, as hires were little changed from December.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 33,324 hires (seasonally adjusted) in January 2012, roughly unchanged from an upwardly revised 33,279 hires in December 2011. The level of hires in January was up about 2% from fourth quarter 2010 and in line with the 2011 average of 33,500 hires per month, continuing the slow, uneven improvement in hiring that began in the second quarter of last year.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample declined sharply in January 2012, falling 16.7% to 815,749 from an upwardly revised 979,718 in December 2011, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. The level of applications in January was down nearly 15% from its level one year ago.

“With signs the overall labor market is firming, recent declines in applications at retailers could reflect renewed job prospects in other industries,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, who conducted the survey.

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Esprit to shutter all North American stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Hong Kong — Esprit Holdings said Thursday that it will close all 93 of its stores in North America, after abandoning previously announced plans to sell off the business or find a licensed operator to run the stores.

However, according to an emailed statement by Patrick Lau, head of investor relations and mergers and acquisitions, Esprit plans to find one or more license partners to maintain the brand’s presence in North America.

Sales in North America accounted for less than 4% of the apparel retail group’s $4.3 billion in revenue last year. The company had already started closing some stores here and negotiating the termination of the remainder of the store leases. The U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries haven’t decided yet whether to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief.

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Macy’s appoints a new chief stores officer, and a new CMO

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati — Macy’s Inc. announced that Peter Sachse, the company’s chief marketing officer and chairman of Macys.com, will succeed Ron Klein as chief stores officer, effective Feb. 13. Klein will retire from Macy’s effective March 31, after 36 years with the company.

Martine Reardon, executive VP marketing, will succeed Sachse as Macy’s chief marketing officer, effective Feb. 13.

In his role as chief stores officer, Sachse will be responsible for the nationwide portfolio of Macy’s stores, as well as the region and district stores organization and visual merchandising. He also will retain responsibility for the company’s omnichannel strategy, which brings together stores, online and mobile capabilities to serve customers whenever and wherever they want to shop. He will remain a member of the company’s executive committee.

Jeffrey Gennette, Macy’s chief merchandising officer, will assume additional responsibility for overseeing marketing and Macys.com.

Jeff Kantor, president merchandising of Macys.com, will become chairman of Macys.com, effective Feb. 13.

“These changes reflect the strength of our senior-level talent and the teamwork that drives our company’s key growth strategies – My Macy’s localization, omnichannel, and MAGIC Selling customer engagement. Our organization is deep and experienced, which facilitates our ability to crisply execute strategies and to move quickly to capitalize on new opportunities as they arise,” said Terry Lundgren, president and CEO, Macy’s.

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