Luxury retail poaches talent from hospitality and aviation as demand rises

  • Store managers at established luxury retailers earn between 10 lakh and 25 lakh a year, with an additional incentive of around 10 lakh in some cases. In contrast, low starting salaries at top hotel chains are pushing some beginners to seek opportunities in other sectors with better compensation.

Suneera Tandon, Varuni Khosla
First Published13 Jun 2024, 07:00 AM IST
The numbers are set to climb further with more luxury shopping destinations opening up in India.
The numbers are set to climb further with more luxury shopping destinations opening up in India.

Mumbai/New Delhi: Sara Mukadam, a retail executive at an upscale mall in Mumbai, is engaging Friday afternoon shoppers with the intricacies of a high-end leather goods brand's latest collection. Adept at explaining the finer points of bags costing in excess of 50,000, Sara effortlessly recommends complementary items on sale at the store.

In pursuit of a better compensation, Sara transitioned to luxury retail in 2023 after a stint at one of India's top five-star hotel chains as well as a business process outsourcing company. The near-double salary and performance-based incentives were significant motivators, she said. Buoyed by the rising demand for international brands domestically, Sara finds exceeding monthly targets increasingly achievable as customers indulge in luxury purchases.

The switch to retail from hospitality was, in a sense, a good career shift for the 28-year-old who holds a bachelor's degree in hotel management, she told Mint.

Several luxury retail industry officials Mint spoke to are finding it increasingly hard to draw in fresh talent, in a sign of a broader shortage of skilled manpower. The growing demand for talent and attractive compensation as well as working hours have prompted those employed in aviation and hospitality firms to switch to the luxury retail sector, recruiters said.

Read more: Germany's Hansgrohe accelerates India expansion with ambitious retail strategy

“Talent has moved and continues to move—about 30-40% of all the job placements we do now for luxury retail are from hospitality, while another 15% come from aviation. Pre-covid, these numbers stood at 20-30% per annum and 10% respectively,” said Udit Mittal, founder and managing director at recruitment firm Unison International Consulting Pvt. Ltd. Luxury retail recruitment at the firm has grown two-threefold.

The numbers are set to climb further with more luxury shopping destinations opening up in India.

In 2023, luxury brands significantly expanded their footprint in India, leasing more than 600,000 sq ft of retail space across various formats, a 170% jump from the previous year, according to a recent report by real estate consultant CBRE South Asia and the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Luxury brand leases in malls surged 300% to 240,000 sq ft; high street store formats also grew. Last year, Reliance inaugurated Jio World Plaza, bringing global luxury brands such as Dior to Hermes to Mumbai.

"Companies also realise that selling at the store is very important and no matter how good the product is, if the customer service is not good, nobody will buy it,” Mittal said.

While the pandemic saw a surge in online shopping, consumers are now returning to stores, prompting brands to hire and train quality talent that can speak to an upmarket shopper.

Read more: The Leela Hotels IPO valued at $2.5 billion in dramatic turnaround

Shailesh Chaturvedi, managing director and chief executive officer, Arvind Fashions Ltd., said that as competition in retail has gone up with more foreign brands establishing presence in India, retailers have worked to ensure their staff is well-remunerated.

"Post-covid, business has improved, a lot of international brands have come—but a lot more people are also willing to join retail. While jobs such as aviation and hospitality are glamorous, hours are long and employees usually burn out quickly and switch to retail. In general, the perception of working in retail has changed too—they dress better, get sales incentives, engage with aspirational customers, environments are secure," Chaturvedi added.

Meanwhile, more discerning shoppers also expect a greater level of customer service. They seek knowledgeable executives who can provide in-depth product information before a high-value purchase.

For instance, store managers of established luxury retailers earn anywhere between 10 lakh and 25 lakh per annum, with an additional incentive of around 10 lakh in some cases. A fashion consultant with two-to-three years of work experience earns about 10 lakh per annum, Mittal said. In contrast, low starting salaries at top hotel chains are pushing some beginners to seek opportunities in other sectors with better compensation.

“What the hospitality sector still is not doing enough of is to look after entry-level workers. When hotels take freshers and interns, they simply are not paying enough. Most beginner salaries still hover around 8,000-10,000 a month. That is where the needle has to move, this means no fresh talent will come into the process," Manav Thadani, head, Hotelivate, a hospitality consultancy, had said earlier.

Dilip Puri, founder and chief executive of the Indian School of Hospitality, concurs. “Luxury retail is the most fertile poaching ground as this talent possesses skills for customer communication, empathy etc. Students who have done their PG programmes (in hospitality) with us, for instance, have gone on to work with companies like DLF and Reliance Brands,” he said.

India’s overall luxury market is estimated to grow to $30 billion by 2030, with 60% of existing consumers spending on luxury every year, according to a study by Deloitte.

Read more: Luxury-format cinemas: Where tickets cost an arm, and popcorn, a leg

Sonal Arora, country manager at GI Group Holding, a recruitment firm, explains that with new retail brands entering India, the skills required for luxury retail are quite unique. Exceptional customer service and sales skills aside, the staff in this sector also need to have superior communication skills, a sense of discretion and customer privacy. "Consequently, there is a shortage of adequately-trained staff with relevant experience and the industry is drawing upon other related industries like hospitality and travel for its staffing needs,” she said.

However, others said such staff also need to be equipped with strong sales skills.

“Business-class crew members are generally a good fit and could see their careers extend into luxury retail. That also holds true for other hospitality categories as well. We have some people in the company from these backgrounds, but generally while they have a lot of soft skills, we find that they sometimes lack the ability to make a sale. We generally prefer to pick sales background individuals at the shop floor level and teach them softer skills," said Abhishek Agarwal, founder, Purple Style Labs which runs Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop, a luxury fashion omni-channel platform.

Catch all the Industry News, Banking News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.MoreLess
First Published:13 Jun 2024, 07:00 AM IST
HomeIndustryLuxury retail poaches talent from hospitality and aviation as demand rises

Most Active Stocks

Tata Steel

167.05
03:57 PM | 16 JUL 2024
0.25 (0.15%)

Oil & Natural Gas Corporation

322.40
03:58 PM | 16 JUL 2024
-0.15 (-0.05%)

Bandhan Bank

198.30
03:41 PM | 16 JUL 2024
2.95 (1.51%)

Coal India

512.35
03:59 PM | 16 JUL 2024
14.4 (2.89%)
More Active Stocks

Market Snapshot

  • Top Gainers
  • Top Losers
  • 52 Week High

Natco Pharma

1,281.05
03:59 PM | 16 JUL 2024
73.2 (6.06%)

Century Textiles & Industries

2,217.55
03:48 PM | 16 JUL 2024
116.85 (5.56%)

Tata Teleservices Maharashtra

81.33
03:54 PM | 16 JUL 2024
4.23 (5.49%)

India Cements

323.05
03:55 PM | 16 JUL 2024
15.8 (5.14%)
More from Top Gainers

Recommended For You

    More Recommendations

    Gold Prices

    • 24K
    • 22K
    Bangalore
    75,246.00928.00
    Chennai
    75,099.00344.00
    Delhi
    74,806.00-460.00
    Kolkata
    75,466.00419.00

    Fuel Price

    • Petrol
    • Diesel
    Bangalore
    102.86/L0.00
    Chennai
    100.76/L0.00
    Kolkata
    104.95/L0.00
    New Delhi
    94.72/L0.00
    OPEN IN APP
    HomeMarketsloanPremiumMint Shorts