Myer Faces Backlash From Concessions Over Controversial Decision

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By Published On: May 30, 20180 Comments

In a letter sent earlier this month, Myer told its brand partners that their workers could no longer tell consumers they ‘don’t work for Myer’ when customers ask for assistance in-store.

Myer is making headlines over its controversial decision to make concession stand workers, who don’t actually work for Myer, serve any customer that walks through the door, even if they wish to shop for a competing brand.

This move could see employees of brands like Country Road, Sass & Bide, Seafolly and MECCA, among others, be expected to assist any customer that approaches them. According to Myer, employees will need to either find a Myer employee who can assist the customer, or serve them directly. This includes processing sales.

The decision has understandably caused friction among concession owners, who are essentially leasing a stand from Myer, with staff being hired and paid by the concession holder, not the department store itself.

According to Tony Sutton, Myer’s executive general manager of stores and experience, the decision was made after the retailer received an influx of feedback from customers claiming they “continue to experience this poor level of service”.

“Customers expect that when they enter a Myer store and interact with team members that they are able to receive assistance and service, regardless of the brand they work for,” Sutton told The Age.

As such, the company expects all concession holders to work as “one team”.

It’s also been reported that at least one concession holder believes Myer’s concept of working as “one team”, is a breach of its agreement, as workers are expected to leave their own stand to potentially serve customers at a competing brand’s stand if it’s left unattended.

Myer’s letter also reportedly threatened concession holders that Myer could refuse any worker who breaches this new policy to continue working at a concession stand within any of its stores.

Sutton’s letter said that this renewed focus on customer service comes after a survey of just under 500,000 customers and 340 staff members revealed customer service was one of the key areas the business should be focusing on.

In the last financial year, concessions accounted for roughly 22 percent of the department stores revenue, with a number of brands already announcing they would be exiting their agreements with the retailer due to declining sales and decreased foot traffic. Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein are among those who are expected to exit the department store.

Last week, Myer launched its end of financial year sales, and in a statement at the time, Sutton said that most concession holders are on board with the company’s fresh focus on customer service.

“There’s a couple of minor issues that we’re working through but generally that majority are really on board – and it’s their priority as well to be providing really good customer service,” he said.

Kicking off on Tuesday, the company’s second-biggest sale of the year is believed to be Myer’s last attempt to draw in extra sales to bulk-up its full-year results. In the last quarterly results announcement, Myer revealed its total sales were down 3.4 percent for the year to date.

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