Stepping Out Globally, Learning Continuously

Stepping Out Globally, Learning Continuously

Charles & Keith Group shares how a strong partnership between business and HR helps them to maintain global brand consistency.

Stepping Out Globally, Learning Continuously

CHARLES & KEITH Group – which owns fashion brands, CHARLES & KEITH and PEDRO – has expanded to 41 retail stores in Singapore and more than 600 stores worldwide. Besides focusing on being innovative and experimental in its business approach, the group also values high agility in learning and leverages digital technology and strategic branding as key drivers of its global expansion.

Best Practices

  • Establish strong partnership between business and HR to enable people strategies to support business outcomes
  • Customise learning modules and delivery methods to address business demands and enable learning for the company’s global workforce
  • Encourage talent movement across global operations to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer, and build up exposure to international markets

To the company, global brand consistency is a priority so that customers have the same buying experience whether they are shopping in Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai, Seoul or even through its online platforms. In achieving this, the business teams have partnered with HR and learning specialists of the global talent management team to design and deliver learning and development programmes that develop employees to maintain global consistency.

“Customers recognise our brand not only by our store presentation, it is also through the way we present ourselves as brand ambassadors, deliver service and address customers’ needs,” says Chia Wai Jyy, the Group’s Head of Talent Management. “Our team provides the learning and development expertise to prepare our people to exude the Group’s brand values and embody them as part of their DNA.” Grooming more than 5,000 employees worldwide to be brand ambassadors, Wai Jyy’s team looks at specific business and service challenges on the ground, including shopping behaviours and local cultural differences across markets. After identifying learning needs, the team designs bite-sized and interactive training content, which are then rolled out worldwide. As the company’s retail teams are busy on their feet, the bite-sized training modules help to accelerate the knowledge transfer in the retail stores, while interactive training platforms allow employees to learn at their own convenience. New modules introduced in 2016 focused on the areas of service interaction, customer relationship, leadership and styling know-how. The team is also assessing other platforms such as app-learning and an on-the-job training instructor course, which will certify trainers in overseas markets to train their respective teams. It also enrols key leaders into reputable universities, like Harvard and Columbia Universities, to sharpen their leadership and business acumen. Over time, the team plans to institutionalise a holistic end-to-end organisational development process on a global scale, from leveraging learning programmes to establishing global organisational excellence standards and linking them to business performance using measuring tools such as global mystery shopper, net promoter score (NPS) and balanced scorecard. In addition, employees receive weekly feeds on styling know-how and fashion trends that allow them to stay connected with latest trends and runway fashion. Other employee engagement efforts include Fashion Fridays featuring ‘Outfit of the Day’ feeds in the employee Facebook page and fashion shows, which further encourage employees to embrace fashion and be consistent with the brand values. As a global business, the CHARLES & KEITH Group places much emphasis on talent mobility across borders. On this front, Wai Jyy’s team systemises talent movement from one country to another to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer for enhanced global consistency. Such movements further allow key talents to gain market exposure and build more fulfilling careers as part of the group’s larger talent programme to groom employees to advance laterally and vertically.

Since its roll-out in recent years, the talent programme has seen the attrition rate of the group stabilise. As a progressive human capital practice, this programme has led the CHARLES & KEITH Group to its recognition as an HCPartner under the Human Capital Partnership Programme. Wai Jyy is quick to point out that ultimately, a business succeeds on the strength of its people. She says: “People are our most important assets, the breakthrough for the business to grow beyond what is normally achievable. As HR professionals, we are here to help employees build meaningful careers so they excel professionally but also in their personal development. In turn they can steer the group towards sustainable growth.”

Benefits and Outcomes

  • Well-trained workforce that enables global brand consistency and supports business strategies
  • Stable talent pool with international exposure to help drive future business growth
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