Department stores IF YOU HEAD down to the menswear division of Lane Crawford in Central's IFC mall, you will find one proud manager. Winner of the supervisory level award in the department stores category was Andy Fong Chi-hang, a passionate but modest retailer. 'I love the industry I work in. I always give my heart to the customer who I am serving,' he said. Fresh from accepting his award, he stands next to four of his junior frontline colleagues who also enrolled in the HKRMA programme but did not win. 'We were hoping to win the team award this year, but SmarTone beat us to it. Maybe next year.' Unblemished enthusiasm and wide grins still remain on all their faces. Mr Fong clearly takes his management role seriously, stating that his relationship with his staff is just as important as with his customers. 'I am always talking with them. If they have a problem, I'll listen to them and try to solve it. It's important to have a solid level of trust - it's great for teamwork and is a way of upgrading and improving our customer service,' he said. Lane Crawford offers interactive classroom training followed by on-floor coaching. The training team works closely with the store management team to balance concepts with real-life cases. 'The company provides us with training and then, on the sales floor, I do my best to implement it,' said Mr Fong, who has been with the retailer for 41/2 years. The positive attitude has paid off for this ambitious supervisor, who was recently promoted. 'Actually 2005 has been a big year for me. I also participated in these Awards in 2001 and 2002 but didn't make it. I guess it's third time lucky.' The only dilemma, he admits, is that he now has to pick out a suit to wear to work every day instead of the company uniform. It is Lane Crawford's philosophy to create a unique shopping environment where the customer can experience the best selection of merchandise and consistent personalised service. 'Retail success builds upon relationship and trust. Customer service is the means to it,' said a company official. 'We tend to hire staff who are more subtle and quiet, not so extrovert. So we are looking for someone well-balanced and someone who isn't pushy,' said retail training manager Shirley Wong. 'That's why we like Andy. He's well-groomed, handsome and friendly.'