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Global distributor builds strong team to drive growth

by Isabella Lee

Angus Wai, general manager, human resources
Fairton International Group Limited
Photo: Nolly Leung

Top fashion brand retailer's vision comprises staff development and ongoing regional expansion

Sales of luxury goods are expected to increase over the next few years, partly propelled by mainland consumers' growing desire for designer and high-end products.

Major fashion brand management company Fairton International Group Limited, which was founded in Hong Kong in 1955 and has a strong presence in mainland China, Macau and Taiwan, is gearing up to enhance its talent pool in preparation for launching new labels and additional retail outlets this year.

Fairton currently owns the distribution rights for 16 global brands, including world-renowned fashion labels and premium leather goods. The company runs more than 50 shops in Hong Kong and 120 stores on the mainland.

While the company is keen to add more variety to its portfolio, it also recognises the need for strategic expansion of its distribution network.

"In order to provide our customers with more choice, we're always on the lookout for new business partners that offer quality products. The economic downturn may have slowed down our pace of store expansion last year, but as markets get back on track, momentum is picking up," says Angus Wai, general manager, human resources, Fairton International Group Limited.

The company has plans to open a few new stores in Hong Kong and an additional 20 or 30 outlets in cities across mainland China, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Harbin, Chengdu and Xian over the next 12 months.


Investing in people

In line with plans for expansion, Fairton is looking to recruit a substantial number of additional staff on both sides of the border and aims to enhance its already generous employee benefits and working conditions to help drive this. In particular, the company's "pay reasonably" salary system ensures that its workforce is compensated on the higher end of the market-related pay scale, Mr Wai notes.

"We believe in our people and therefore reward them appropriately," he says. "For this reason, we keep a close eye on the salaries and benefits offered by our competitors and constantly review ours, ensuring that our employees get compensation that is at least above the market average."

This pay policy has earned the company a turnover rate that is consistently below the industry average. Staff retention is a major issue in store operations across the retail sector, with many employers suffering double-digit employee loss figures.

Another reason for high loyalty levels at Fairton is the career development opportunities on offer. Its promote-from-within policy means that the opening up of a position may generate a chain of promotions throughout the organisation.

Community initiatives

Apart from attractive financial incentives, Fairton also offers new recruits training in technical knowledge and soft skills, making sure that they are well equipped to communicate effectively with customers from day one.

"Learning and development are fundamental aspects of our human resources structure," Mr Wai explains. "Our retail staff can benefit from a range of language programmes, workshops and seminars to hone their customer services skills and help them to handle various situations arising in the course of their work."

The group encourages university students interested in the retail field, but also invests in helping non-graduates to move up the career ladder. Training is offered on every level of shop operations, aiming to boost employees' chances for future success.

Fairton believes in the importance of a healthy work-life balance and supports staff to get actively involved in community services, together with colleagues and family members. This aids bonding and leads to a sense of achievement. All employees are entitled to one day's paid leave every year for any volunteer work they may choose to take up.

"Although we cut down on staff activities in 2009, we increased our number of corporate social responsibility undertakings. Working together, the company and employees increased donations to worthy causes and participated in a range of community events," points out Mr Wai.

The company is also looking at the possibility of running interest classes for staff, providing the funds for the initial setting up, after which employees will form organising committees to build the structures.

Branded employer

  • Plans to increase talent pool in preparation for business expansion
  • Employee benefits and working conditions enhanced to help drive expansion
  • Turnover rates consistently below the industry average
  • Promote-from-within and staff development policies allow staff to move up the career ladder

Taken from Career Times 5 February 2010, B4


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