FatFace charts a sustainable course to 2020

In the first interview for our New Work series, FatFace discusses the new workplace and asks, is it all about data? What really matters to employees and customers?

From new stores and international expansion to opening itsfirst foundation store in Havant and developing its fast growing e-commerce website, FatFace is continually exploring ways to give people better access to the brand whilst retaining its passion for delivering the best product and service experience. We spoke with the People team and Jo Wilson (Talent Management Lead) to find out what FatFace is doing to stay attractive to employees and customers…

How are you are adapting to be a workplace of the future?

It’s predicted that 52% of all employees in retail are going to seek to move away from the industry, meaning the pool of talent will reduce very quickly, so this is a big concern for us. This is partly down to the tough nature of the industry, but also because people don’t necessarily view it as a long-term career option. We are combatting this by offering more fluid career journeys, revamping our benefits packages and offering more flexible working patterns.

We are also working hard to ensure our brand remains relevant and attractive to prospective employees. A big part of our brand historically has been selling life outside of the 9 to 5. In reality, we all work much longer hours now and find our free time is often disrupted by work, so we’re working hard to re-energise the brand to keep it attractive and something which resonates with our crew and consumers.

We are also really keen to create a great physical working environment for all our staff, helping to convey the lifestyle brand and make it an enjoyable workplace. Creating sociable spaces, encouraging social activities like team paddle boarding sessions and having fish and chips or a beer together on a Friday are all small important things which help keep our staff engaged.

Are you using technology to improve processes?

We’ve developed apps and online portals for our crew to help with our induction process and training, which is needed with such a large, diverse workforce with lots of differing shift and working patterns. The use of apps has helped improve workflows, reduce pressure on teams and assisted internal communication.

With 25% of our workforce potentially directly impacted by Brexit changes, we also worked closely with KPMG, who developed an immigration guidance app for our staff.

We regularly see stories about ‘robots taking over jobs’ and the impact of automation and AI. Does this concern or excite you?

For our in store experience, this isn’t something which is on our radar, as our crew are a huge part of our customer journey and we wouldn’t want to change that. We know that the experiential nature of our brand is so important to our customers and so we try to create a really positive, social environment and wouldn’t want to automate the buying process or replace that social interaction. Inevitably, there will be other areas of any business that could utilise automation to improve both processes and service levels, adding competitive advantage in the right place.

In today’s working environment we have access to so much data. How do you know, track and measure what your employees and customers want?

Rather than focussing too heavily on analysing data trends, we prefer just to talk to our employees and customers through focus groups and regular communication to find out what’s important to them. We still track data that informs decisions but we are keen not to use it in isolation.

What role does the ‘green agenda’ play within your company?

This is hugely important to our employees, partners and customers. Whether it’s through using recycled materials such as plastic gathered from the oceans to make swimwear, or visibility across our full supply chain and the source of our cotton – it’s at the centre of our brand values. We’ve made the bold commitment to source all of our cotton in a sustainable way by 2020, which is something only a handful of companies in the UK can say they do – so we are incredibly proud of this.

Another recent highlight for us was opening our first foundation charity store in Havant in September 2018. The store has lots of great sample sale items at outlet prices. 100% of all profits go to charity and local community projects, generating revenue to be spent in the local area.

For more information on the New Work project, please contact Leon Deakin, Employment partner and head of our Technology sector.

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