Arcadia’s HR helps turn loss into profit

Arcadia’s HR department has played a major role in producing a significant
turnaround in fortunes at the fashion retailer.

The group, which owns high street brands Top Shop and Burtons, had been
struggling but its latest results revealed a 60 per cent rise in half-year
profits to £58 million.

Kim Morton, personnel director at Arcadia, told Personnel Today that the HR
department had been central in reshaping the business, which owed more than
£250m in 2000 but is now expected to be debt free by the summer.

"HR played an enormous role in creating the new structure of the
business. Two years ago we changed the way it operated," she explained.

One of its biggest achievements was streamlining the company’s 15 central
brands into three business units.

HR was also responsible for making the firm’s internal processes more
efficient, such as the length of time it takes goods to get to the market.
Morton said HR also managed to remove more than a million pieces of paperwork
from the organisation during the initiative.

"It isn’t a traditional HR area, but we’ve improved the speed of the
business processes. Because we’ve got good skills in organisation,
communication and in dealing with multiple departments we’ve been able to
transfer our abilities to other areas of the business," she said.

One of the main strategic goals of the company was getting closer to the
customer and unusually this was also handed to HR. The department set up a new
call centre staffed with 26 people who logged complaints and enquiries.

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