Holt’s work­ers de­cry cut in hours

Due to sea­sonal de­mand, com­pany says

National Post (National Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST - HOL­LIE SHAW

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.

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