What’s the hiring outlook for the retail sector this festive season?

For the festive season, retail companies typically need more hands on deck to handle the spike in demand

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The festival season is always the time for more shopping, and hence, calls for a ramp up in business activity, particularly in the retail industry. This year, even though the pandemic continues to be a threat in India, the festive season will coincide with an increased rate of hiring across the country. Multiple surveys had predicted a jump in hiring across sectors, with retail accounting for a large chunk of the same. A survey conducted by Manpower Group found that out of about 3,000 employers, about 64 per cent would be looking to expand their hiring during the last two quarters of 2021.

The sentiment is shared by Sachin Agarwal, head-HR, AJIO.com. Being one of the key fashion shopping websites and a subsidiary of Reliance Retail, Ajio is continuously expanding its footprint in the Indian retail sector and will also expand its teams. Speaking with HRKatha, Agarwal shared that the Company has huge hiring plans for the near future. Not divulging the exact numbers that the e-commerce platform would be looking to hire, Agarwal explains their hiring requirement. He says that Ajio’s business is divided into two parts. One is the online store, which is anticipated to bring in significant B2C business during the festive season. However, the bigger employer will be the second business of supplying retailers with fashion apparel and footwear — the B2B business. That is where the team will require considerable expansion. “We are ramping up hiring for our B2B operation. The on-ground team will be expanding during the festive season,” he says.

“We have an established network of partners who can bring forth competent individuals who are available for a short period of time”

Sandiep Batra, CHRO, Landmark Group

The Manpower survey of 2020 reveals that only six per cent of the surveyed employers were planning to ramp up their hiring in the last two quarters. Hence, the same survey of 2021 indicates that a big jump in hiring could be anticipated this year. Agarwal believes the increased vaccination and a general sentiment that the worst of the pandemic is over has led to business recovery, and thus, hiring is on track again this year.

Regarding AJIO’s talent-acquisition strategy, Agarwal says that the Company will continue to train and hire talent to fill the gaps. “We have a strong pipeline of ‘train and hire’. We have partnered with NGOs across the country who supply us with a workforce that we can then skill and hire,” he says. There are multiple programmes run by the Government where fresh graduates or undergraduates, who want to enter the job market, are trained and imparted relevant skills. Reliance Foundation also runs such programmes to impart training to people for multiple roles, B2B sales being one of them. It’s a very steady pool of trained individuals who can instantly be deployed,” he explains.

For the festive season, retail companies typically need more hands on deck to handle the spurt in demand. Hence, retailers hire gig workers during this season. Speaking with HRKatha, Sandiep Batra, CHRO, Landmark Group, says that retailers typically have established a trusted machinery to meet their talent demands during the season. “There is a short spurt in business for three to four weeks of the festive season, when we need more people in the backend. These are positions where not much skilled talent is required. However, quality talent is still essential. We have an established network of partners who can bring forth competent individuals who are available for a short period of time,” he explains.

“We are ramping up hiring for our B2B operation. The on-ground team will be expanding during the festive season”

Sachin Agarwal, head-HR, AJIO.com

Batra says that even though business was affected during the first wave of the pandemic, the Group was able to maintain a constant head count even then. As the business picked up again, after the wave subsided, their hiring also resumed.

For 2021, Landmark, that has over 50 prominent brands including Lifestyle, Homecentre and Steve Madden under it, has observed a consistent demand, which Batra believes will not vary greatly during the festive season. “We are witnessing a different phenomenon this year. We have seen a heavy footfall since the second wave passed and that trend continues still. Hiring for more full-time roles is already on,” he reveals, adding that gig workers will be taken on, if the need arises.

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