H&M: Investing in hard work and happiness

Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood speaks to H&M country manager Pär Darj about the company’s commitment and investment in its employees and finds out what job opportunities and training are available to new employees.

At the store opening Somerset Mall on the 1 October, it was evident that the staff are a vital part of the H&M business and family. Prior to the opening, Darj gave a passionate speech to the staff, followed by an energetic warm-up and motivation from the new store manager Randall April. The focus of these much appreciated speeches was evident, the staff are a vital cog in the machine that is H&M.

The retailer plans to expand its reach across the country in the coming months, with planned openings at Galleria Mall in Durban, Menlyn Park in Pretoria and East Rand Mall in Johannesburg before the end of the year. In addition, H&M will also be opening stores at l’langa Mall in Nelspruit and Mall of the North in Polokwane in the first half of next year. Other stores are planned, but the details are still unclear.

The sky is the limit

According to Darj, there are many opportunities for growth within H&M, and the ‘sky is the limit’. He explains that when H&M first launched in South Africa, 10 people from H&Ms around the world were sent to South Africa to help establish the brand. Of these people, Darj notes that several started as sales advisors in other countries.

According to Darj, the opportunity to go overseas for the company is an option for South African employees in the future. H&M is very much open to the growth and development of its employees. For example, there are instances in South Africa of H&M staff who started as sales advisors and are now working in other areas of the business, such as in the control department.

When opening new stores, Darj also highlights that staff members are asked if they would like to work at the new store. “Sometimes we send managers. For their development they have to move to a place for two years in order to progress.”

Investing in their staff

Darj highlights that the staff in the stores are important to the company, as they are the ones who are interacting with the staff. However, according to him, other companies don’t share this philosophy, and the store usually places near the bottom of the hierarchy.

Prior to the opening of the V&A Waterfront and Sandton City stores in 2016, 60 South African staff members were sent over to Sweden (where the brand was founded in 1947), as the cost of the company.

The reason for the trip? Darj explains that they wanted the South African staff to share the mentality of ownership and responsibility that is a part of the business’s operations in Sweden. “Before we had any stores, we sent them off to Sweden for three months, the managers in Sandton and in V&A and we did that because they should catch the Swedish mentality of ownership and how they share responsibility.”

Randall April was one of the staff members sent to Sweden for three months. He already had experience as a store manager for another company, but started at the H&M V&A Waterfront as a department manager. Less than a year later, April was selected to be store manager at the new Somerset Mall branch. “Randall with all his experience started as a department manager, and then he showed who he was and then eight months later became store manager,” says Darj.

The future of H&M in SA

Darj notes that the response to the H&M Somerset Mall store was slightly better than they had expected. But this is not the end of H&M’s growth plans for South Africa though. Before the end of the year the company plans to open stores Galleria Mall in Durban, Menlyn Park in Pretoria and East Rand Mall in Johannesburg.

In addition to these planned openings, there are two store openings planned for the first half of 2017 at l’langa Mall in Nelspruit and Mall of the North in Polokwane. “We also have a good number for next year in our back pockets,” adds Darj.

Working at H&M

H&M states that it cannot disclose their salaries. However, you can apply to H&M via their website here.

Current job listings include:

  • Visual Merchandiser – Mpumalanga, Ilanga Mall, Nelspruit
  • Visual Merchandiser – Limpopo, Mall of the North, Polokwane
  • Department Manager – Mpumalanga, Ilanga Mall, Nelspruit
  • Department Manager – Limpopo, Mall of the North, Polokwane
  • Sales Advisor Part Time – Mpumalanga, Ilanga Mall, Nelspruit
  • Sales Advisor Part Time – Limpopo, Mall of the North, Polokwane
  • Sales Advisor Part Time – Gauteng, Menlyn Park, Pretoria

Tips for the budget conscious shopper

H&M offers the following tips for those customers who are on a tight budget:

  • Keep an eye out on our ‘deals of the week’ in store.
  • Take advantage of the concept offers which usually entail ‘Buy 3 items pay for 2’.
  • Bring unwanted clothes to the stores to be recycled and receive a 15% discount voucher for the next purchase.

 

For more information on the H&M opening, as well as a garment collecting initiative that rewards H&M customers, click here.