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Editor's Comment: Jaeger shake-up shows the need to retain talent

This week Drapers reports on further departures at Jaeger, among them its trading director Gwynn Milligan and product director Liza Canneford-Webb.

The list of people to have left the business in recent months is growing. The latest exits appear to have resulted from a streamlining process, which will save Jaeger money it can reinvest in its product, stores and online. However, such churn at a senior level can be a cause for concern. Jaeger was rocked by the sudden departure of former boss Colin Henry last year, while with Milligan’s exit it loses decades of experience in fashion retailing.

There is now a lot of pressure on chief executive Chris Horobin and his rapidly shrinking senior team, which includes Sheila McKain-Waid and Ken Pratt, to steer the much-needed turnaround. 

Stripping out talent from a business is risky, but shaking up structures and bringing in new roles can give a fresh lease of life. This week is Computer Science Education Week (CSEW), an initiative to highlight the need for students to be taught computer science, as well as tackle the diversity issue in this field. It was the brainchild of non-profit organisation, which states that “every 21st-century child should have a chance to learn about algorithms, how to make an app or how the internet works”.

As fashion businesses know, these skills are now vital in any digital operation. The projected growth of these roles is twice the rate of all other jobs, CSEW states. Data scientists, web analysts and UI (user interface), UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) roles did not exist in fashion retail a decade ago, but are now pivotal to providing a multichannel shopping experience. Because these functions are still in their infancy, there is a small talent pool out there and demand is high.

To show its support for CSEW, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP) is holding coding sessions for students in the UK and Italy during this week. Experts from YNAP’s technology team in London and Bologna are teaching coding to children and young people aged four to 16 at a number of primary and secondary schools, higher learning and training centres in London, Milan and Bologna. 

It is a smart move by YNAP. Not only does it place their branding alongside a great initiative, it could also allow them to find great talent for more junior roles in the business. The basic skills of computer programming are becoming increasingly important, for everyone. Technology is part of our everyday lives, it is part of customers’ lives and it is part of nearly every role in fashion, including buying, merchandising and store design.

Drapers, too, is championing those who push the boundaries of technology with the Drapers Digital Awards – enter to celebrate your own and your business’s digital achievements, enter the Drapers Digital Awards. Entry is free and categories include Best Customer Experience, Best Digital Marketing Campaign and Best Use of Mobile.





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