The retail industry has faced a challenging year in 2015, both in the luxury and the mass-market sectors. Despite this, fast fashion and mass market brands have not been affected as strongly as the luxury sector, with some key players moving ahead with expansion plans to open new stores in sub-urban areas throughout 2016.
Slowing economic growth, dwindling tourism and evolving consumption patterns have strained the retail industry in Singapore. Despite this, overall sentiment around luxury and retail is generally positive.
According to a report from PwC, sales growth in the region will be the fastest globally over the next five years, averaging 8.5% in monetary terms and 4.6% in average volume.
Due to evolving market conditions, luxury brands are seeing the importance of growing local Singaporean clientele and ramping up their offerings to provide an increasingly tailored and exclusive shopping experience.
This new focus has sparked a demand for new generation of roles which include in-store clientele development specialists, clientele development managers, VIP managers, personal shoppers and boutique directors.
To address the talent shortage, some brands are looking to hire talent outside of the luxury retail industry, particularly those who have strong networks of high net-worth clients, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) expertise, as well as candidates with high-end customer service backgrounds.
Front line retail staff in the luxury sector continued to be highly sought-after in Singapore. Due to shortage of good candidates in this space, some luxury brands have begun hiring talent from mass market and fast fashion brands.
These brands are particularly interested in candidates who not only have a passion for the luxury industry, but also bring new and unconventional ideas to the table. Across both frontline and back end operational roles employees can expect salary increments in 2016 ranging from 1 to 5%.
Candidates that are coming in at regional roles or in areas where there is a talent gap will be able to command pay increases of around 18%, when moving to a new employer. With the evolving landscape and emergence of new talent gaps, attracting and retaining the best talent is increasingly becoming a key focus for the luxury and retail industry.
Alston Tan, Luxury and Retail specialist consultant at Randstad Singapore noted, “More often than not, companies tend to associate consumer branding with employer branding, thinking that the consumer brand will attract and retain the best talent. As consumer and employer branding do not always equate, luxury and retail companies have to focus on their employer branding.”
With the growing importance of work-life balance, some companies have been focusing on offering their staff with increased flexibility in work hours.
Career progression is also an important factor that employees are taking into consideration. Some brands are strongly committed to promoting people from within their organizations, even if it means rotating them across different job functions.
Others give frontline retail staff the opportunity to move into back-end operational roles, provided there are suitable opportunities available. Salary structures are also being relooked as brands put in more efforts into remaining competitive, to attract the top talent from the luxury industry to join them.