Wide range of opportunities

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 August, 2008, 12:00am

Major mainland expansion drive opens door for new employees

Today's consumer market is flooded with products but, in order to add value to goods, quality service is the key to success. Giordano, a Hong Kong-based retailer that makes and sells casual clothing in Asia, is dedicated to providing just that.

The company expanded into the mainland 27 years ago, enjoying many advantages, as local brands were not yet fully developed then. Today, it has nearly 900 outlets on the mainland.

Giordano has four major brands: Giordano, Giordano Concepts, Giordano Ladies and BSX. The functional line of the brand, Giordano, which sells casual and leisurewear, takes in 80 per cent of the business and the company is seeing continuous growth in this area. The other three lines are developing, and Giordano is trying to tap into customers with higher spending power.

The company's 2007 annual report states that it aims to increase the styles in its functional brand to 3,000 per year, and many young people are being trained in its design studio in Dongguan.

With businesses targeted at different consumer groups, Giordano needs a huge number of staff ranging from frontline salespeople, sales managers and directors to product designers, interior designers, visual and display designers, buyers, engineers, information technology professionals, accountants and legal advisers.

'We are not only a retailer, we need people in all areas, but there's still a priority,' said Ngan Lei-tjen, Giordano's group human resources director. 'We hope that there will be a stronger development in the buying side.'

She said the company was focused on business expansion on the mainland over the next five years, and planned to open another 120 outlets there this year.

The main reasons for expansion are the vigorous competition, and the increasing purchasing power and number of consumers on the mainland.

Ms Ngan said besides the need for sales staff, with the sales network expanding and continuous change of products styles, the company also needed more interior design and construction professionals.

'We look forward to working with people who are open-minded and conscientious, who possess good people skills and who can withstand a highly pressurised working environment,' she said.

Giordano did not specifically focus on bringing in local or foreign professionals, and put emphasis on the working ability of individuals, she said.

'We recruit many locals. Other than the two highest positions in the mainland's offices, other employees at managerial level are mainland Chinese,' Ms Ngan said. 'We are also looking for expatriates to join the mainland office. We look for foreigners with international exposure who can bring in a different perspective.'

Giordano has a comprehensive training curriculum for service-oriented frontline staff. They are trained to understand the operations of the entire outlet, from servicing and organising the stock, colour-code matching, making adjustments, to marketing strategies according to climatic and environmental changes to discussing micromarketing campaigns. Staff need no previous experience, but the company takes personality into account.

For back-office positions, professional qualifications are required, especially for those who work in support teams such as accounting, finance or legal departments.

However, personality is still considered the major deciding factor in the selection process.

'People with an entrepreneurial spirit would succeed in the company,' Ms Ngan said. 'We are dynamic because we are highly responsive to changes in the business environment. Entrepreneurs will find such an environment challenging as it opens up opportunities for them to explore their potential and to grow.'

The motto at Giordano is Q.KISS, which stands for quality, knowledge, innovation, simplicity and service. The company stresses giving value to employees. It provides many training and learning opportunities, and all employees get a chance to work in different areas of the business.

'The growth opportunities in terms of our own career development are something that we all find most attractive,' Ms Ngan said. 'Not only should we work according to directions, we should also work one step ahead and predict the outcomes.'

She said the competition in the mainland was fierce. 'We are modest and we strive to do our best in the competition.' In order to do this, many professionals and frontline staff are needed.