LCX takes pressure off shopping experience

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2003, 12:00am

A new store targeting young consumers, LCX, is enjoying its first summer of operations, after opening in Hong Kong last October. LCX stands for Lifestyle Concept X (excitement), which represents a revolutionary retail store concept, combining a shopping centre and a department store.

'The current department stores are packed with narrow aisles, while shopping malls are cold, with standalone shops. In view of this, we created LCX to give an inviting feeling to consumers. The barrier-free layout offers lots of space, food and beverage outlets, as well as trendy merchandise aimed at our target customers,' says Joe Wong Ka-keung, executive director of LCX.

The store targets people either young at heart or just plain young, who are not burdened by negative equity or financial responsibilities. Besides offering trendy merchandise, it is a place for them to hang out and meet friends. There is no pressure on them to buy.

Customers can spend hours in the store, dining at the restaurants, relaxing in the sea breeze on the balcony, or simply walking around with their friends, Mr Wong says.

The relaxed style has shaped their recruitment criteria. Staff are expected to share a similar mindset, but, most of all, have a high level of creativity.

This relaxed attitude even extends to security personnel. LCX recruits certain staff to perform safeguard functions, and gives them the title of general service assistant. This ensures the member of staff will be friendly and helpful towards shoppers while also performing security duties - to the benefit of consumers, Mr Wong says.

The commercial team has brought a new idea to retail operations, where it combines the leasing and buying teams. The commercial team needs to understand what the consumers want and where to source the goods.

'Most of our applicants are very interested in the new approach. What our recruitment staff need to do is to find the right people with the right mentality, but it is not easy. Some people are so used to the old environment, and not able to be creative and proactive as expected,' Mr Wong says.

The store needs staff that are knowledgeable. Most employees have experience in the retail industry, either in store operations, marketing or products. They have to be familiar with the market and know how to approach the target clientele, he says.

'Whether it is work in the shop or the office, the company tends to be a bureaucracy-free environment' with the emphasis very much on team work, he says.

Though the Sars outbreak has slowed expansion, the store is now seeing an increase in traffic and sales volume.

Despite the impact of Sars and the ensuing easing of recruitment, the company still offers considerable career opportunities.

'There are a lot of chances for our new employees to compete with the existing team for promotion opportunities,' Mr Wong says.

The young management team is open-minded and offers a work culture that has a fairly free format.

'We retain our staff through good interpersonal relationships. We respect them and make sure they are happy and satisfied with their jobs,' says Mr Wong.

Developed by Wharf Group, the company is committed to the retail business.

'We made a huge investment in re-designing and re-fitting the shopping arcade to the current structure. We are here to serve the young market, with a fresh and vibrant image as well as a wide range of merchandise,' says Mr Wong.

The company also has a store in Beijing.