Retailer boosts pay with new structure

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 12:00 13/08/2014

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Palmerston North woman Kathryn Harris will see an increase in her pay-packet from today.

She is one of 50 staff members from The Warehouse Group in Palmerston North who will receive the Career Retailer Wage in recognition of their skills and experience.

The wage increase from The Warehouse Group is part of a push by the retail sector to have it seen as a more desirable option.

Harris, 22, has been working at The Warehouse in Palmerston North for nearly seven years. She will now receive between $18 and $20 per hour. She said people didn't generally see retail as a career but she thought that would change.

"When you're getting paid as much as people with degrees, it's enough to keep you there."

Using the "Living Wage" data and other sources as a benchmark, The Warehouse Group chief executive Mark Powell said the Career Retailer Wage aimed to reward, motivate and retain customer-focused teams.

Head of business at Massey University Ted Zorn said retail was often looked at as a stepping stone to something else "on their way to a real career".

He said the school consistently heard that part of the industry's rationale for wanting a degree specialising in retail was to increase the talent pool in management and leadership and raise mana of the positions within the sector.

Massey University would offer the country's first degree focused solely on retail next year.

Zorn said there was a need for talented, analytical thinkers in the changing industry. Specialised education, as well as better pay, would improve the reputation.

"They're not just competing with shops in the region but online retailers from overseas."

The Warehouse Group is investing close to $6 million a year in the Career Retailer Wage across all its retail businesses, including The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery and Noel Leeming.

Powell said the structure would benefit The Warehouse by ensuring the retailer retained experienced team members.

"Far too often retail is seen as a second-rate career choice," Powell said. "We want to change that view and show that working in retail is exciting, challenging and financially rewarding too."

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- Manawatu Standard

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