THE BODY SHOP plans to open more than 10 new stores in the next 18 months. With an explicit policy to promote from within wherever possible, it has ramped up training and career management activities to allow rapid development and progression of talented staff. All staff can join the company's career development programme, launched last year. After nomination by a supervisor or area manager, employees attend a range of training courses and then sit an examination. If the employee passes the exams, they attend a panel interview with senior operations managers, who decide if they will be promoted to the next grade. As employees progress, they gain access to additional training. For example, senior sales staff receive additional training in product knowledge and sales. Managers are trained in coaching and feedback skills to help them take an active role in the development of more junior staff. They are also given a chance to gain broader skills such as financial management and business analysis. To further encourage development, managers are given placements in different categories of stores, moving to higher graded stores as their performance improves. Frontline sales staff can eventually move into head office positions such as marketing or training. Others progress to senior management roles. 'There are so many opportunities,' said Karin Ong, chief executive of The Body Shop in Hong Kong. 'Two of our current district managers started in the stores'. While its priority is to recruit frontline staff, The Body Shop has also developed a trainee programme which aims to develop graduates into managers in 18 to 24 months. 'We think all of our staff are important and we encourage progression for everyone,' said Ms Ong. 'However, we recognise that a university education can help individuals to develop analytical skills. We want to leverage these skills in graduates to assure the future success of The Body Shop.'