Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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102 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | February 2017 Industry Events Retail's Big Show retailers to have "a bit of fun" and be "cheeky." Conscious capitalism also took the spotlight, with Branson pointing to ways in which he has used business to better the world. Echoing a point Tindell made earlier — that "we can improve the world by improving the world of business" — Branson said that if every company in the world adopted a problem and used its entrepreneurial skills to overcome it, most of the world's issues could be solved. Further, doing so can benefit the bottom line, too: Employees want to feel like they have a greater purpose in life, and working for a company that tries to make the world better can help create that purpose. Hire, Train, Retain Right Human capital was the topic of conversation Jan. 15 as well, when Bill Brand, president of Home Shopping Network parent HSN Inc., based in St. Petersburg, Fla., pointed out the importance of hiring the right retail talent across all levels, from the c-suite to the store floor. He followed his point with a keynote panel discussion that included Greg Foran, president and CEO of Bentonville, Ark.- based mass merchandiser Walmart U.S.; Terry Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Cincinnati-based department store chain Macy's Inc.; and James Rhee, executive chairman and CEO of Secaucus, N.J.-based apparel retailer Ashley Stewart. "We must change how we approach talent devel- opment," Brand said, noting that today, technology is fundamentally altering the way we consume, or- ganize and work, not only in retail, but also in every economic sector. With retail anticipated to change more over the next five years than it has during the previous 50, it's more important than ever to recruit people with nontraditional backgrounds who never even thought retail was "for them." Training is a huge focus for many of the larger retailers in today's market. For instance, of its five points of critical employee investment, Walmart focuses on training with two initiatives: Pathways, an entry-level program rolling out nationwide that gives new or existing associates basic business skills, and its Academies, managerial-level institutes that use 200 Walmart locations as training facilities, which 140,000 department managers will attend this year. It's also seeking to retain employees by ad- dressing turnover at not just the store manager level, but also the floor level. Investing $2.7 billion over two years in higher employee wages and providing tools and mobile devices necessary to complete jobs are critical for this advancement, as is distilling the complexity of the various duties of an omnichannel business into simplicity for the sake of training. For Macy's, training is essential even for employ- ees already considered experts in their roles. e company is already focusing strongly on attracting great talent dedicated to technology — particu- larly women, which has made it a top company for promoting female technologists. But it continues to encourage education: Over the past year, it has trained 600 of its technologists to focus on every- thing from website development to when and how it's best to use cloud technology for measuring peak-period demand. e retailer also has a select number of universities where it spends time on campus to capture the interest of STEM students, who often don't have the retail industry at the top of their lists of career choices. And in Ashley Stewart's case, great talent can often best be attracted and retained through creat- ing a sense of community. Rhee, who reinvigorated the women's apparel chain, which focuses on urban neighborhoods and is known for its deep connections with, and commitment to hire from local communi- ties, fell in love with the brand because it had nothing to do with clothes — at its best, Ashley Stewart was about respect, community and empowering women. Although it was tough to do, Rhee empowered team members by persuading them that they had loyalty and a strong sense of friendship with the community and among each other — things money can't buy. Fresh Focus with Tech e call for disruption came from the technology front as well. In a Jan. 15 keynote, Rod Sides, retail, wholesale and distribution leader at New York-based research firm Deloitte LLP, noted that retailers need to use data and digital in a new and different way l I k E a v IRGI n In a keynote interview, v irgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson encouraged retailers to think like entrepreneurs.

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