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Warehouse firms up plans to pay more for staff with training, long service

Tuesday 23rd July 2013

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Warehouse Group, New Zealand's biggest listed retailer, has firmed up plans to improve its workforce with better training and longer service rewarded with higher pay.

Starting Aug. 1, Warehouse will introduce a 'career retailer wage' for staff who have completed full training and worked 5,000 hours or more, equivalent to just over two years' full-time work, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. The first stage of the plan will cost about $3 million, up from an estimate in May of $2 million to $2.5 million, the company said.

Warehouse, which employs about 7,000 staff at its general discount red shed barns, blue box stationery stores and Noel Leeming appliance stores, wants to improve the public perception of retailing and attract more talented and productive staff that will stay with the company.

"As well as making retail a more attractive career, as a major employer, we're pleased that this positively impacts the wider community," chief executive Mark Powell said.

From Aug. 1, some 3,800 Warehouse staff will get $30 to $65 more salary a week. About 200 extra staff will qualify to move onto the new rate every quarter with about 60 percent of all full-time staff earning the career retailer wage or higher by the end of this year, Powell said.

The second stage of the plan, starting in August 2014, will significantly increase the career retailer wage, Powell said, without providing details. In May, the company said the second phase would cost an estimated $2 million to $2.5 million.

Warehouse has used the union-led New Zealand Living Wage campaign as a benchmark. The campaign asserted the need for an increase in the country's minimum wage to address a growing income gap between rich and poor.

In the first half of its financial year, Warehouse spent $169.4 million on employee expenses, or about 15 percent of its $1.1 billion revenue.

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