Holt’s workers decry cut in hours
Due to seasonal demand, company says
TORONTO • Employees of Holt Renfrew are unhappy about changes in the ranks of senior management and about a cut to hours for fulltime staff, moves by the luxury retailer as it fights a bitter battle for market share against Saks and Nordstrom.
According to sources, full-time store employees recently had their hours cut to 30 a week from 37.5 in a bid to trim costs at the veteran Canadian retail chain.
“This is not the first time — we implemented this strategy several years ago to avoid layoffs,” Nicole Plener, vice-president of marketing and public relations at Holt Renfrew, said in an email Thursday. “As per industry practice, our store employee hours are reviewed throughout the year to align with seasonal shopping patterns and department updates and enhancements,” Plener said, adding “customers can expect full-time attention in any store they visit.”
Retail sources said staff morale is low in the wake of the cuts and that a host of management changes have worsened employee uncertainty, exacerbated by a dip in store traffic after the holiday period.
The upheaval comes in the wake of Holt Renfrew’s confirmation last month that it would shutter its offprice retail sibling hr2 to put a greater focus on its core business of luxury goods.
It follows the appointment of Loblaw alumnus and fashion veteran Mario Grauso to the president’s role at Holt Renfrew last September, replacing Mark Derbyshire. Grauso was president of Vera Wang Group before he joined Loblaw in 2013 as chief operating officer of Joe Fresh, and he became president of the cheap chic brand the following year where he was credited with cutting expenses and streamlining its assortment.