St Michael, the ‘patron saint of grocers’ (pictured), was sent to the NEC in Birmingham last week to talk to thousands of Marks & Spencer’s staff attending a US-style motivation exercise.
The publicity stunt, arranged by shopworkers union Usdaw, was designed to encourage staff to sign up to the retail union – which is not currently recognised by M&S.
Usdaw criticised M&S for spending an estimated 10m drafting in a New York business guru to speak to all 56,000 staff at a series of mass sessions last week.
But Keith Cameron, HR director at M&S, defended the exercise. He said it was part of a much bigger programme to motivate staff.
“We chose Mary Gober from six contenders – not because she was American, but because she has an individualistic approach,” he said.
“The whole idea comes from the fact that M&S wants a new, motivated, trained workforce with good careers. We are also training people in-store and have had 8,000 staff volunteering to become coaches and team leaders,” said Cameron.