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Why Do Luxury Retailers Find It So Hard To Hire?

Every retailer is in a fight for the top talent. Yet in luxury recruitment, that fight feels fiercer. Why is it so hard to hire for the luxury retail market, and what can you do about it? Here’s the ZD take, together with some essential luxury recruitment tips.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. 12 years ago, Zachary Daniels started out with two men (Zac and Danny) and a dog. Frankly, the dog was a rubbish retail recruiter. Fortunately, Zac and Danny were pretty good.

Ask any retailer, and they’ll tell you hiring great people is one of the biggest challenges for their business. When it comes to finding talent for luxury brands, the challenge becomes even greater. Why is that? And if you’re a luxury recruiter looking to unearth a fresh source of untapped talent, what’s the best way to do it?

Why is luxury recruitment so challenging?

Because luxury hiring isn’t the same as regular retail hiring

It’s not that staffing for a luxury brand requires an entirely different skillset — there are obvious parallels. But in luxury, everything is heightened. Service can’t merely be great. it must be distinctively so. Product knowledge needs to be next level. Then there’s that X factor of brand fit. It always matters, but for luxury recruitment, it’s essential you hire people who embody everything your brand represents.

Because the pandemic left a lasting legacy

Luxury retail took a major hit during the pandemic but it bounced back strongly in its aftermath. It’s starting to feel like a distant memory but remember how it felt to return to stores (and restaurants, gigs, cinemas and other public spaces/events) when restrictions were lifted? It was almost like coming up for air after too long underwater.

In luxury retail, that effect was even more pronounced. Customers who had missed that personal, dedicated service when it was forced online returned with an even greater need to enjoy it. There was just one problem. Lots of the people who’d been delivering that service before the pandemic had gone off and done something else by the time the pandemic was over.

Because Brexit made luxury hiring harder

Yes, we said the ‘B’ word. And without wishing to revisit that particular period at any great length, the simple truth is that lots of the people the UK relied on to deliver a luxury service (i.e. Europeans) left and didn’t come back. Given the new rules for overseas workers in the UK, it’s likely many of them will never return.

That left retailers looking for the crème de la crème of staff in a smaller pond of opportunity. As a result, they’ve needed to look again at their luxury recruitment strategies.

Luxury recruitment tips

Pay is inevitably a factor. Many luxury brands have been raising their base pay to encourage applicants or retain existing staff, but not every brand can afford to do it and, even if they can, it’s not exactly news to suggest that paying more can make a difference. So what other luxury recruitment strategies could have an effect on finding the right people?

    1. Offer growth and development

      Giving staff the chance to build their skills and knowledge is a major factor in encouraging applications and staff retention. According to this research1 (not exclusively from retail), 76% of employees want opportunities to expand their careers and 92% say training programmes have a positive effect on engagement.

      At LVMH2 (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton), for example, there’s an “unlimited playground” of development on offer to interns, apprentices, graduates and others building their careers in, “a stimulating environment where creating, reinventing and innovating are high on the agenda.”

    2. Leverage brand storytelling

      One thing a luxury brand has little difficulty with is leveraging its name, history and culture to create an enticing offer to candidates. It’s not simply enough to rely on brand familiarity however; there’s also a need to craft a compelling story that’s a combination of philosophy, history, product and, as Patek Philippe puts it, savoir-faire

    3. Leverage scale and opportunity

      Back to LVMH, where the phrase ‘be part of something bigger’ takes on a much greater significance when you’re part of a brand that’s home to 75 houses, from Bulgari and Tiffany & Co to Sephora, Fendi and Guerlain. Clearly not every luxury brand can leverage such scale, but for those that can, the message candidates receive when you go big on your organisation’s scope is one of cross-brand opportunity, the chance to build an exciting career and job security.

    4. Leverage sustainability

      Workers want to work for companies that are serious about sustainability. Depending on the stat you choose, it’s something almost 60%3 of millennials, and 67%4 or 71%5 of all jobseekers want. For a luxury brand, that means going the extra mile (although not in a fossil-fuelled car) and delivering a sustainability offering that makes a genuine difference.
      Lots of luxury brands are making impressive inroads here. Stella McCartney, for example, is a progressive leader in the market.

    5. Look outside the usual channels

      You know the old saying about ‘if you always do what you always did you’ll always get what you always got’? It’s something that very much applies to luxury hiring. To escape that trap, brands need to look at alternative tactics and consider candidates who have the passion and essential skills for luxury, even if they don’t have a track record inside the industry.
      When we take instructions from a luxury client, the recurring themes of each job are:

      – A love of the brand
      – An obsessive eye for detail
      – An understanding of what personal, tailored and exceptional service looks like (and how to deliver it).
      – A level of sophistication, maturity and that indefinable ‘know it when you see it’ quality that sets workers in luxury brands on a different plane from their non-luxury peers

Luxury retail recruitment done right

For as long as we’ve been recruiting, we’ve been specialising in luxury recruitment. So if your luxury hiring strategies aren’t delivering the talent you need, talk to us now. We’re ready to help.

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