Retail in Asia

In People

Taking Stock: Recruitment expert talks HK retail trends

Richard Broadhurst is the director of Initiative Recruitment Hong Kong Limited. Retail in Asia recently spoke to the Hong Kong-based recruitment expert to learn about the current situation of the retail job market, as well as his recruitment tips to international retailers who eye the market.

RIA: Can you comment on the current job market in Hong Kong? Are you optimistic about the market for the rest of 2012? Why?

Richard Broadhurst (RB): Recruitment activity in 2012 has been slower this year than in previous years in terms of the volume and pace of recruitment activity, in addition to the lack of recruitment activity at the senior level. 

Over the course of this year, we have also experienced an increase in internal repositioning, internal recruitment as well as temporary positions.

The summer months have seen a further slowdown in recruitment activity as people travel and recruitment is put on hold, however, this has picked up again now as people are returning to work from their summer holidays. Recruitment has been given a further boost from companies whose financial years begin in July.

The debt crisis in Europe, the slow recovery in the US plus the slowing economic growth in China is having a negative effect on Hong Kong’s GDP and this helps to explain recruitment activity in Hong Kong this year.  Despite this, there is ongoing demand for recruitment in Hong Kong, especially from the consumer products, retail and luxury sectors and we see this continuing for the remainder of 2012.

RIA: Many listed companies, including some in the retail sectors, issued profit warning for the second half of 2012 due to the unstable situation and economy slowdown in China. Should we expect budget cut or job cut in the 2H?  

RB: While we expect similar levels of recruitment activity in the second half of 2012, given the slowdown in the retail sector and recent profit warnings, it is possible that these companies will reduce their hiring activity by putting positions on hold or not replacing vacant headcount although we do not foresee more drastic measures unless there is a significant worsening of the situation in the short term, which does not appear likely at this stage.

RIA: What challenges will employers in the retail sector see in the second half?

RB: Employers in the retail sector will continue to experience skills shortages as candidates, aware of the current economic climate, restrict their career development activities. Furthermore, candidates will become more risk averse in turn making it harder for prospective employers to prise these candidates away from their existing employers. Employers who focus on their existing employees will improve employee engagement, productivity and performance which in turn will help to tackle some of these issues.

RIA: How about the luxury sector? In 2011 and the first half of 2012, many luxury brands expanded in Hong Kong and China. Will this trend continue in the second half, adding more job openings to the market here?

RB: We expect to see continued expansion in Hong Kong and Asia from the international luxury brands.  Luxury brands have aggressive expansion plans for Asia. There are many smaller, new brands willing to establish businesses in Hong Kong as well as emerging markets such as India. There are numerous new shops opening due in 2013 in addition to the establishment of regional offices in Hong Kong and China, however, the pace and scale of these projects may experience a slowdown.

RIA: What are your advices to international retailers who want to expand and recruit staff in the region?

RB: For retailers looking to expand their headcount in Hong Kong and Asia we recommend planning their headcount requirements in advance and working in hand-in-hand with a retail specialist recruitment partner to implement these plans.

RIA: Can you talk us through the background of Initiative? How do you help retailers in their recruitment?

RB: Initiative is a Hong Kong-based and Hong Kong-focused recruitment company that specialises in the recruitment of sales, marketing and senior management professionals within the retail sector.  We recruit junior, middle and senior level candidates who are currently based in Hong Kong and around the region and our clients include local, regional and international retailers.

Richard Broadhurst manages Initiative Recruitment Hong Kong Limited.  Initiative specialises in the recruitment of sales, marketing and senior management professionals.  Richard has lived in Hong Kong since 1994 and has been in recruitment since 2003.  In 2010 he established Initiative which is now a leading sales, marketing and senior management recruitment specialist.

Taking Stock is Retail in Asia’s fortnightly column dedicated to showcasing opinions from experts in the retail industry.

To view Initiative’s job post, click here.