Credit crunch provides dream opportunity for bed retailer to invest in staff

The boss of beds retailer Dreams has vowed to continue investing in his staff despite most retailers being fearful that the ‘credit crunch’ will hit spending.

Last week the British Retail Consortium warned of potential cuts in training and recruitment budgets in the sector following a slow-down in consumer spending.

But Dreams’ chief executive Nick Worthington said the expected economic downturn would help separate the weak furniture retailers from the strong and enable Dreams to gain market share in an increasingly competitive market.

Speaking to Personnel Today, he said: “What would tend to happen in any sort of economic downturn is the weakest retailers will tend to suffer and go out of business. That helps aggressive businesses gain market share as they continue to expand.”

He cited the example of competitor Sleep Depot which went bust earlier this month.

Dreams plans to open 30 new stores this year with ambitions to double its £200m turnover by 2011. Worthington said investing in his staff was key to achieving this goal.

The company has launched a work-based retail management degree for employees, accredited by Bucks New University, which covers customer service, operations and finance. “The staff going on this course are people who will play a key part in development of the business. I’m sure as their skills improve they will pass those on to the rest of their teams,” Worthington said.

The company was also in a strong position because an economic slowdown meant bigger firms could negotiate better deals with landlords for space in retail parks, he added.

Separately, Travelodge has teamed up with Westminster Kingsway College to offer a foundation degree in budget hotel management. The syllabus includes modules on HR, food and beverages, public relations and marketing.

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