The Warehouse Group started its #retailcareers strategy two years ago and more and more young people are now joining the company.
Debbie Gregory, acting Head of Retail Careers, says the strategy helps to raise the perception of retailing and encourages people to realise it is a highly skilled and successful career.
“That’s our commitment,’’ she says. “We want to demonstrate that there is a huge amount of potential within retail – in some cases, Store Managers could earn as much as school principals or bank managers. We want young people to change their thinking from, ‘I will work in retail until I get a proper job’ to ‘retail can be a satisfying and rewarding career’.”
The Warehouse won The New Zealand Association of Graduate Employers’ Graduate Development Programme Award in 2013, and in 2014 the group hosted 2272 students from 248 schools.
If we have youth coming through with fresh ideas, we want to develop them and provide them with a valued and long term retail career.
Acting Head of Retail Careers, The Warehouse
A world of opportunities
The Warehouse Group offers a number of different career development pathways:
Red Shirts in Schools
Students can gain work experience while earning credits towards NCEA Level 2, while becoming part of the company’s people-centred culture. Some students who work part-time when they leave school can also complete a National Certificate in Retail (Level 2, 3 and 4) and join the leadership development programmes as they progress into Team Leader and management roles.
In 2015 the group awarded scholarships to 24 people to study the Bachelor of Retail and Business Management (BRBM) at Massey University – the country’s first retail degree. And the group made a commitment to do more each year.
Career Retailer Wage
An investment of an extra $6 million a year to bolster the wages of Team Members who are fully trained and who have been employed for more than five years or achieved 5000 hours of service – employees who are seen as the backbone of the company.
Store Manager Development Programme
A four-year programme for graduates and internal Team Members who want to become Store Managers. Graduates are guided and mentored as they fast-track to the top.
As well as 92 The Warehouse stores across the country, the group owns 77 Noel Leeming and 64 Warehouse Stationery stores.
Becoming a store manager in just four years
A surprise phone call while working at The Warehouse’s Hamilton Central store turned Riyan Rattan’s life and career around.
Riyan first worked as a casual employee in the Hamilton Central Warehouse store while studying for his Bachelor of Business Analysis at Waikato University. He then took up a permanent part-time role on the shop floor.
Without Riyan’s knowledge, his manager nominated him for the company’s Store Manager Development Programme (SMDP).
He began the full-time SMDP programme at the Morrinsville store, working there for six months and rotating through the stock room, service and sales teams.
To go from a part-time, front-line Team Member to managing a store with $20 million turnover in four years is an incredible journey for a young person.
Store Manager Development Programme Participant, The Warehouse
Riyan's careeer journey
Now 22, Riyan moved to the Westgate store in Auckland as Service Team Leader in August 2015, with 50 Team Members reporting to him.
He will be in this role for 12 months, and will be responsible for rostering, auditing, and leading the check-out, customer services, entertainment and jewellery departments before moving on to Night Fill Team Leader, rotating between different stores throughout his programme.
Every week, Riyan meets with his Store Manager to talk about his progress and what skills need to be worked on. He also attends the regular in-store and regional leadership meetings, and is invited to attend the formal week-long leadership development training.
What's next for Riyan
After his time in the Night Fill team, Riyan will take on a year-long placement in an Assistant Manager role, which can be at any of The Warehouse Stores in New Zealand. Next will be a move into a second Assistant Manager phase in a region of his choosing, as a build-up to taking a Store Manager position.
“When I met the Regional Manager at Hamilton Central, I thought his role was cool – the influence he had in the store and the knowledge he had on every little detail,” says Riyan.
Now he knows he can use the economics and human resources learnings from his degree to manage a store for The Warehouse Group. And he can’t wait for that day to arrive.
*Case study developed 2015.