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Talking Shop: Where have all the good staff gone?

I have now been on a recruitment drive for what feels like the last six months, although in reality it has been two.

As a result of a longstanding member of staff leaving us in January, I have been on the lookout for a motivated and hard-working individual to join our team. A passion to deliver first-class customer service is a must. On the face of it, it seems fairly straightforward and surely not a great deal to ask? But how wrong am I?

The first question I have been asked by 70% of interested parties is: “How much of a discount would I get?”

The other 30% have been made up of the following: school students who can work from 3.15pm; university students who can work from 1pm to 4pm on a Thursday, Saturday afternoon but definitely NOT Sundays; mums that can start at 9.30am but must leave at 2.30pm; and, of course, the obligatory person who cannot speak English. Lord give me strength.

A few years ago, it was cool to work in the independent retail sector. Staff recognised the potential prospects, you were spotted everywhere you went as that guy or girl from Dartagnan and I would literally have dozens of CVs handed in whenever a position became available. In fact on two occasions over the past 16 years, I have had staff leave their current jobs on better pay just to come and have the kudos and job satisfaction of working in this industry.

The first question I have been asked by 70% of interested parties is: “How much of a discount would I get?”

How times have changed. Dartagnan is a leading premium independent retailer, selling globally recognised brands. It has a great friendly working environment, is progressive in terms of professional development and job progression, and yet we still cannot attract good young staff.

Other than students that are here just for the cash but clearly do not want to do the graft to earn it, where is everyone? It makes me ask the question is our industry attractive any more? Or, and perhaps more appropriate, do the young people of England just not want to work and earn a living?

Anyway, I’m off to interview a 16-year-old non-English speaking student who can only work Monday 9.30am to 10am. Wish me luck!

Matt Horstead is owner of independent menswear retailer Dartagnan in Chichester, West Sussex





Readers' comments (1)

  • darren hoggett

    You have my sympathies. Youngsters just don't appear to be interested in retail anymore, other than a stop-gap at best. It's not seen as a path to progression that it used to be and the trade is getting older overall. Good staff are hard to find and to keep them interested is even harder. Good luck!

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