Prioritizing Employee Experience for Frontline Workers

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

Prioritizing Employee Experience for Frontline Workers

Hosts: Steve Boese & Trish Steed

Guest: John Hadeed, US Vice President, People & Culture at Primark


Today, we met with John Hadeed from Primark to talk about the importance of the employee experience for frontline workers. We look at the dynamic retail landscape, focusing on Primark’s strategic growth plans and innovative HR strategies, and explore how prioritizing the workforce, fostering career development, and enhancing the employee experience will drive success in the market. From recruitment to leadership development, we discuss how Primark attracts and retains talent while emphasizing people over technology.



Thank you for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!


This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. We’ve worked together with Paychex and 9 of our HR insider friends to assemble a comprehensive guide to HR tech in 2024.  With so many new technologies hitting the market and what’s quickly becoming an AI- obsessed work culture, it can be hard to find a starting point. This toolkit is the first step in cutting through all that noise. Grab your free copy today at 

Transcript follows:

Announcer 0:00
Welcome to At Work in America, sponsored by Paychex. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese and Trish Steed.

Steve 0:28
Welcome to the At Work in America show. My name is Steve Boese. I’m joined by Trish Steed, how are you today?

Trish 0:33
I’m good, Steve, how are you doing?

Steve 0:36
I am well. I’m excited. We have a great show today you’re wearing a lovely top Trish, as a matter of fact. Where did you get that?

Trish 0:44
I got that at Primark in Philadelphia.

Steve 0:48
Primark, a very big retailer globally, expanding their presence here in the US. And we’re going to talk about retail, retail employment, development of retail associates, with John Hadeed from Primark here in a couple of minutes. And it’s a great conversation about a usually important segment of the US and global labor force. And I can’t wait to for folks to listen to that conversation.

Trish 1:12
Yeah, me too. I think they do such a good job with putting people first and it’s not just lip service. So that’s what I’m most interested to hear about from John.

Steve 1:20
Yeah, it’s gonna be great conversation. Trish. While we have time we’re about to get on the road, I know you’ve got some things coming up, you wanted to share?

Trish 1:29
I do, I’m actually going to be on the road for some personal fun stuff, which I’ll share maybe the next trip. Next time we’re on next trip, listen to me. So I’m ready for this trip. I’m leaving right after we record this. But later on in April, I’m going to be seeing our friends over at Oracle HCM. So learning more about what they’re up to. I’m also going to be visiting with phenom because they have a lot of new information out and wrapping up kind of the end of the month and early May with speaking and also being an Ask the Expert at HR tech conference in Europe, which is really exciting. That is the first one that they’re doing. And, gosh, a lot of big names that we know, but also a lot that we don’t, which is going to be even more exciting to hear from speakers I haven’t heard from before. But that’s may 2 And third and Amsterdam. If you have any questions about that reach out, I can get you all the information to get you registered. So we love it. How about you?

Steve 2:27
Love it, I really just wanting to know, I’m going back to Singapore for the first time since prior to the pandemic, to the HR tech fest to Asia, in Singapore. And it’s it’s like a two day event which is going to take a week for me to get there and come back. But I’m excited to do it. I’ll be doing a presentation I’ll be doing some kind of mainstage hosting in some of the things I do at HR tech here in the US. I’ll be I’ll be doing over there too. So I’m excited to go back there. It’s a long trip. I booked my flight this last week and it’s arduous to say the least as well as coming home but it definitely worth it. And I’m excited to get over there and have some interesting food again and see some friends. It’s been a long time. So I’m excited.

Trish 3:11
Can we just say like, honestly, that’s such a solid event. I enjoyed my last trip over there. I know you were there with that one as well. The one thing though, are you going to have to anytime for fun for personal time while you’re there?

Steve 3:23
I will. So the event ends on a Thursday at the end of the day. And I have Friday still there and I’ll be you then getting on a plane like sometime Saturday afternoon to come home.

Trish 3:33
Find that little pancake restaurant. Do you remember that? So there was the place where it was like your table the whole table was like a griddle and they brought you all the different squeeze bottles of pancake mix. Do you remember that?

Steve 3:47
I remember some in Singapore I do remember. I will look for that that was out. Trish before we get on with the show. Let’s thank our friends at Paychex. Of course, this episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. We are so excited. We’re still promoting an ebook we recently did with our friends at Paychex with nine other of our HR insider friends. And we built this comprehensive guide to HR tech in 2024 with a focus on selecting the right HR tech for your organization. So if you’re out there thinking I need some new tack, we have this really really excellent guide to help you in that journey. Trish, you were really the impetus behind getting this done and I think it’s a great resource.

Trish 4:38
You know what, it’s the guide I wish that I had when I was buying HR technology and or even thinking about it and how to have those conversations with your other leaders in your organization and just some of the really mindful steps to take and it’s covered from all different perspectives. And it’s such a good eBook, I’m so proud to be part of it.

Steve 5:00
Yeah, it was fantastic with a lot of our great friends. I heard we even got Halle Schlemmer to participate. And, she is hard to get this kind of thing very, very tough to get her. So she’s in this too. So I’m excited!

Trish 5:12
One thing about that the the reason it’s so important we have Halle as part of this is because we want to make sure that we have all the generations in the workforce represented. And she is Gen Z. And I think that I’m just not seeing a lot of that yet in terms of research and reporting, where we’re finding out like we’re asking Gen Z, maybe what they want. But we’re not having someone from that generation actually writing and giving advice as well. So I really liked her part of the ebook.

Steve 5:41
I did as well. So if you want to get a copy of this eBook about helping you on your HR technology journey you can visit to start your journey towards new HR technology in 2024. So thanks to our friends at Paychex, thanks to all of our friends who participated on that project as well. Trish, let’s get on with the show.

Steve 6:27
We are excited today to welcome our guest John Hadeed. He’s the vice president of people and culture for Primark here in the US, John leads the overall talent agenda for the US expansion. With a roadmap to grow from 24 to 60 stores by 2026. John and his team will lead Primark through an unprecedented expansion of its stores and its colleague base. John has deep experience and human resources organizational corporate strategy, corporate and crisis communications, direct to consumer and retail businesses and transformation and turnaround. John, welcome to the show. How are you?

John Hadeed 6:56
Thanks so much, Steve and Trish, it’s lovely to meet you both and doing well.

Steve 7:01
It’s great to see you and we’re excited to talk to you both from a perspective of you know, your story and the story at Primark, particularly around the the growth and expansion plans. Yeah, but also to talk about retail, because it’s such an important industry employs literally millions of people here in the US and certainly many more billions around the world. Yeah, yeah. Primark is a great global brand and to really dig into into that a little bit and talk about talent, opportunity, development, all the things that are important to folks who are in retail into retail organizations. But before we dive into some of that, John, maybe you can share a little bit about you that maybe wasn’t in the bio, but also, for folks in the US who we don’t necessarily yet, have a Primark store around every corner. Yeah, help us learn a little bit more about Primark too.

John Hadeed 7:51
Of course. So as you said, I’m the head of people and culture for Primark in the US. So I look after everything related to how we are creating a great place to work within our US business. And I’ve spent most of my career in the HR space, but actually at my core, and at my heart, I’m a retail person. So my origin is in stores. My first roles were store roles. And actually, that’s pretty common amongst the Primark team. So out of our five members of our leadership team here in the US, all of us started our careers in stores. We’ve all woven through different paths to get where we are today. And most of my time has been in HR space, but kind of stores retail operations, and then HR is has been the journey that I’ve been on. Retail is something that I know, but more importantly, it’s something that I love. It’s a very tangible business, you see the impact of what you do every day.

John Hadeed 8:47
And I think as you said, retail is an industry that employs millions across the US. And it’s something that we all interact with every day, you go to the grocery store, and you buy groceries and you’re interacting with someone working in a retail job cashier who’s probably been there for 1020 30 years, in some cases, and so, you know, I love the industry that we’re in and what we’re what we’re doing from a Primark perspective, specifically. So, a little bit about Primark. We’re an Irish retailer, founded in 1969, in Dublin, really with a mission to bring affordable clothing Ireland, originally, and now that’s our mission across the globe. So we’re in 16 markets across Europe. And here in the US, trading from over 430 stores. across those different countries. The UK is our biggest market at this point. With the US really being one of our fastest growing so we have 24 stores today. 11 of those we opened in the last year or so, and we’re on a trajectory to get to 60 stores by September of 2026.

Trish 10:00
Wow, thank you for sharing all of that, John. I mean, so many. First of all, just thank you for sharing how you got into HR, because that is a question that comes up often, especially from younger people who might be in college and they want to know, how do I get into HR and so many of us, right, start with what we love and what we’re passionate about, like it’s such a good point of entry to sort of do human resources around what we know.

John Hadeed 10:26
Listen, I never would have expected that I would have ended up in a in HR right here. I am here.

Trish 10:34
That’s the story, too. I mean, I think again, it’s all about the people you work with. And if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it sounds like everyone at Primark kind of has that in common in terms of, you know, they’ve got a passion for the store and for selling great things to people that you can be proud of. Right? There’s that sense of pride in Primark. So I learned about the expansion because as I’m sitting here thinking before, the show is saying, I’ve only been to one, Primark and it was on the east coast was in Philly, I’ll be back in Philly in about a week and a half. So I’m gonna go again, I didn’t even say this before the ship. This is a Primark shirt, and I didn’t even I didn’t even do that on purpose.

Steve 11:13
You sure did.

Trish 11:14
I did not.

John Hadeed 11:16
We love that. We can’t wait to have you back in Philly in a couple of weeks.

Trish 11:20
And literally, everything from my favorite jeans are from there to, you know, pajamas and other sweaters, and I bought things for my daughter. So it’s just an easy brand to love. I think, you know, and, and good quality, too. So are their stores in the central part of the United States? Or is it primarily East Coast right now, in terms of the 24 you have?

John Hadeed 11:46
Yeah. So in terms of the 24, we up today, most are in the Northeast. So we started in Boston. And we now trade kind of across the Northeast us in the last year, we’ve opened in Maryland, we’ve opened in North Carolina. So continuing that expansion, we have two stores today in Illinois. So that’s the furthest west we go. And then we have a store in Florida with another one to come. We’ve also announced our expansion into Texas, as part of our approach to 60 stores. So we’ve got several leases signed in the state of Texas. And then we’ll kind of continue to fill in the eastern half of the US over the course of the next couple of years. And it’s really great to hear your reaction to the product having discovered us in Philadelphia, because that’s really what we’re all about, we want to be a place for everyone to find amazing fashion at amazing prices, to have that experience of being able to add something to your wardrobe that is cool or meaningful or comfortable or represents a sports team that you love, or a Disney character that you love from our Disney partnership. But to do that it is at a price that’s affordable to as many people as as possible.

Trish 13:07
One thing just to add there too, for anyone who maybe hasn’t been to Primark. Obviously, you can shop online, right? That’s a good way.

John Hadeed 13:17
Actually Trish, you can’t. So we are we are we’re talking about retail today. And it’s actually we’re happy to be the retail company to talk about this. We are a bricks and mortar retailer. So our business is in stores. And it has been since 1969. And that’s part of our part of the value that we bring is creating those in store experiences. I think we’ve all in the last, you know, number of years and decades from a retail perspective, of course have talked about online and omni channel this and I’ve been through those journeys in my past. The reality is most retail transactions are still happening in physical retail. And that’s what we do we create great experiences for our customers to to find our products to discover what we offer. And that’s also how we do it at an amazing price. So it all comes together. So actually unfortunately, if there’s not a Primark in your city today, you’ll either have to come visit us at one of our current locations or stay tuned for when we come to to a city near you.

Trish 14:24
I think the price of the airline ticket would be worth it because they’re so good, right?

John Hadeed 14:29
I think so.

Trish 14:31
Also, you know what, and last thing I’ll say because Steve’s got to jump in. But in terms of you know, you mentioned that they’re really affordable clothes, but sometimes that equates to not good quality, right that it’s not gonna hold up. And I can attest the things I’ve had for a year and I wear them a lot. They’re holding up wonderfully. Is that something that you all think about in terms of the quality of the product? And the combination of that good price because some brands I know don’t have that quality that I’ve found that Primark has.

John Hadeed 15:00
Absolutely, we are very focused on creating a great product that is at a great price. And with great quality, it all comes together. And, you know, we have a very extensive agenda around Primark cares, that’s embedded throughout the business that looks at how we’re creating products that are not only of a high quality and did a great value, but are also more sustainable for the environment for the world. And for the people in our supply chain, who are creating those. So from our Primark sustainable cotton program, to the way we design and manufacture, it’s all about creating the best possible quality, you know, of what we can do for whatever category, whether it’s the jacket I’m wearing, or the top that you’re wearing, it’s all about how that comes together.

Steve 15:50
Thank you. John, I want to talk about the people side of this equation, right? So you’ve talked already about, hey, we believe in creating these great customer experiences in physical locations, which certainly are a combination of physical location, certainly the quality and the price points of the goods and the selection of goods that draw people in. But there’s another side to this, which has a really big side to this right, which is the people. And I’d love for you to talk a little bit about people in retail, and maybe we’ll just start with the the real traditional ways we think about the people side of the retail business, which are those folks working on the floors of the stores, and dealing with customers, you know, daily basis, one to one, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about that, like, what are some of the big issues that are impacting this part of our workforce? And what are some of the things that Primark you do to find them, develop them, etc, and really help them deliver those great experiences that you’ve talked about?

John Hadeed 16:49
Yeah, yeah, really where it all comes together is on the shop floor. And in those interactions that our customers have with our colleagues. And, you know, for us, it’s about how do we create a colleague experience that is as positive that is, is engaging, that is as enriching as possible for the people who choose to work for us. Because there’s a lot of options for where you want to go if you want to work a job in retail, and I think that’s one of the probably, Angel challenges in retail is high turnover, and people moving from store to store business to business, you know, whether that’s trying to grow their career in that way, or looking for, you know, something better from a pay perspective or the environment perspective. So that’s really why we try to look at the entire piling experience and say, how do we, at each of those touch points deliver on putting our people first and delivering on creating an environment where where people can succeed. And most importantly, I think, where people can grow because for us, what we’ve found consistently is when you can show people that retails not just a job, but that you can have a career that is meaningful, that is lucrative that can lead you know, in the case of the president of our US business to go from a part time weekend, colleague to running the US business, the dots, the trajectory, or as I said, all of us on the leadership team started at stores, so you, you can have that journey, you can explore those those different opportunities that come with that, that I think is a really powerful message. Now, not everyone is going to want to have a retail career. But for us, it’s about how do we how do we activate that passion and that desire in as many people as possible?

Trish 18:48
I think it’s really good that you’re sort of sharing that longevity opportunity. Is that something that you do in a very structured way? Or is that more organic? How are you sharing kind of those stories, not just even your story, but also of the person running the, you know, the US business now?

John Hadeed 19:06
Yeah. Something we talk about all the time, our career stories in Primark, you know, when we start with some of the simple things, so we do tenure recognition. So when you’ve hit milestone one year, two years, five years, etc, we create a moment around that. You get a pin to wear on your lanyard. We all wear our Primark lanyards, I’m not even in a store at the moment. And I’m wearing my lanyard because it’s such a part of our culture and about how we connect to each other. So we create those moments to celebrate the career journeys that people have had. And we talked about that inside the organization. And we talked about it you know, when we’re having conversations with with people like yourself outside of the business to say this is part of who we are and what we believe in. And then what I would say is we have to back that up, right? So not just the stories of individual people, but the programs and the resources and the support to enable others to have those career journeys. So that’s everything from our grow with us program, which is about creating career pathways from one step to the next, you know, in our retail stores, to quite honestly making sure that we’ve got the right practices around performance management, and that we’re having those effective coaching and development conversations with people and understanding what their career aspirations are. So it’s some of those very traditional, you know, kind of HR practices, but making sure that they are fully embedded in how we do and what we do. And then supported by those, you know, those learning programs and other things we have in the business.

Trish 20:43
It seems like such a good recruiting tool as well, because you can share how much you can tell how much you care about the employees, it’s not just about a part time retail job that you have for six months, right, you’re really showing and demonstrating by all these programs that you’re in it for the long haul, if they want to be as well.

John Hadeed 21:01
Yeah, and even if it is, for six months, we want it to be a great six months, you know, if it’s three months, and you’re, you know, you’re a junior going into your senior year of high school, and you need a summer job, we want it to be a great summer job, and Primark, we want you to have learned something and felt part of the team and felt recognized for your performance and felt that you then move on to whatever you decide to do next, hopefully, having learned something. And hopefully having taught us something too.

Steve 21:35
John, that’s the top something part is what I want to focus on is sort of you led me into where I wanted to go. And one of the things we hear all the time, right in HR or in people management is the primacy or the importance of an individual persons, in this case, say someone working in one of the stores a frontline type of employee, and the relationship they have with their manager, their direct supervisor or manager, I’m not sure exactly at Primark, John, how you’re organized in the stores, if it’s a department manager or store managers, whatever it is, right, you’ve got those people that are interacting with a manager of some kind. So two questions, really, one is, are you finding that’s generally true in your experience and the experience of the colleagues of Primark that that relationship really is that important? And then you know, if so, what are some of the things that Primark you do to help equip the managers right with the tools that they need to really be effective in those roles and help help the folks who you’re bringing in of what you said turnover is a big problem in retail? And you’re sort of fighting up against that, too?

John Hadeed 22:35
Yeah, yeah, I don’t think I can over state Steve, the importance of that relationship that someone has with their manager, and if not, that, I think is at the core of their relationship with the business. Like we can have lots of great programs, you can throw the best pizza parties, we can offer a 401 K match, we can do all of those things. But if every day, you come into work and the person you work for, doesn’t care about who you are, how you’re doing on that particular day isn’t guiding you and coaching you celebrating the wins with you, and being honest about your opportunities, then why bother coming in, so that that relationship is super important. And that’s, you know, where we spend the vast majority of our time from a development and learning perspective is making sure that we’re giving them the skills to be the best possible line managers that they can be, and giving them the tools as well to make sure they’re hearing whatever their team might have. So, you know, we go down our our first level of leadership and store is called the team leader. They probably have maybe 10 to 15 sales associates reporting into them, you know, twice a year, they see their your voice survey results and get that pulse and an aggregate in a in a in an anonymized way to say here’s what, what what’s happening across my team. We give them tools like that to support what they’re experiencing every day and to make sure that they understand the impact that they’re having on their colleagues. But yeah, it’s absolutely important.

Trish 24:27
As a little bit of a follow up to that, John, I was thinking back to just my time working in several organizations as part of HR teams and being an HR leader. You know, I often thought in terms of how do we develop those maybe just handful of people who aren’t meeting those targets and goals with their teams, those leaders that or just not cutting it really. I’m a big believer in performance improvement plans do work, and I know there’s also the school of thought that like that’s really your, your sort of hand out the door, if you will, I bet Love to hear how you all deal with those when they come up if someone is maybe struggling a little bit in terms of leadership style, or maybe specific leadership skills? And is that something where you really do try and retain them? Or is that something you’d prefer to just go ahead and move on to the next, you know, hire?

John Hadeed 25:22
Yeah, I would never prefer to go on and move to the next hire, Trish. I think for us, it’s about within that individual, if there is a challenge, or if there is some underperformance it’s about understanding what the root cause of that is. And is that something that we can support around their development, I think it’s a two way, it’s a two way dialogue, it’s a two way street, right. So the person has to want to improve as well. And we have to, I think, create the environment as much as we can, where they want to improve, and where, and where we can encourage that and where we provide the support and the training, the tools, the feedback, whatever it might be, that helps them get there. So I think when those two things come together, the will to want to get to improve and our support that our goal is to move people from under performance into performance, our goal is never to be a place that’s just constantly turning through talent, and always thinking that there’s someone better on the outside or someone better at another story that we could bring in. I think our first obligation is to the people that we have and to supporting their their development and their potential.

Trish 26:33
Thank you, I feel like that says so much about the culture, then just the way that you handle those situations, because I have not found in all my years of HR, anyone who wanted to go to work and do a bad job there when you said root cause I wrote it down because it’s critical. So I think if you know, again, we’ve all had had leaders that you can think of them name by name, right? From every job that weren’t doing what they maybe should have been doing. But without the right culture in place where they feel empowered to speak up. A lot of times, it’s things that are going on in the personal lives, right? I’ve had people who maybe were doing a poor job of being a manager, because they were in the middle of a big divorce. And no one knew that or right there, or maybe had someone pass on their family or just some other family issue going on. So yeah, I’ve just encourage everyone to kind of take the lead, like you all are with finding that root cause because usually people want to do a good job. It’s very rare. I’ve come across anyone who’s like, I don’t care.

John Hadeed 27:37
Unless we don’t get it perfect every time, of course, and we have work to do on it. But I think unless you’re focused on it as an opportunity, then then you can easily let it slip. And you could easily be come a very transactional piece where or place where someone doesn’t meet that standard. And and you’re moving on versus how did we get there? And what can we do to get someone back on the right track?

Trish 28:04
Those are very good and different approaches? And yeah, glad to hear Primark has the one that, that I tend to align with, right, even as a consumer, it’s important to understand the work culture somewhere to also be a good consumer.

Steve 28:19
Yeah, one of the things John, I’m super interested in, in retail, especially in another kind of reason why I wanted to to have you on the show today was, and maybe this comes up at Primark or maybe in perhaps it doesn’t, we could talk just more generally about if not, which is this idea of, like, I spent a lot of my time in the tech space, right workforce, technology, HR, technology, etc. And the idea around so much of the software over the last, whatever 20 years has been efficiency, optimization, you know, algorithmic things to do things like scheduling, or maybe together or optimizing the composition of the team. And I sometimes worry that, you know, we, if we go too far with those kinds of tools, we take some of the the flexibility out of managers hands, and we stopped, maybe can be in consideration enough of people. And by that I mean things like tools that exist that say, Oh, the weather forecast for Wednesday is rainy. So therefore, we expect foot traffic in a safe store of some kind to be down. Therefore, we’re going to tell a couple of the folks who are scheduled to come in, they don’t need to come in, right. And this is like on Monday on Monday, they find that out, all of a sudden, two days later, they they’ve hours have been caught or things like that. So something a little bit about just the idea of of kind of giving people that kind of safety and security, if you will to understand when they’re working, how much they’re going to be working right because that impacts a lot of their lives, right, not just their direct job, but also other things that they’re doing in their lives, their families, prep school that they’re going to or even just how much money they expect to bring home at the end of two weeks right to manage that. And the balance of obviously Primark and any other business needs to be efficient and profitable, etc, etc, I’d get all that too. So I’d love to if you guys think about that talk about it, is that something as a retail people leader to? I’d love to your thoughts on it?

John Hadeed 30:15
We think about it all the time. And I think at the core of our of our value proposition for our colleagues here in the US is that we want to be an employer that you can depend on. So for us, we have set schedules for our sales associates in the store so that they can plan their lives accordingly. And work fits into that, and that we’re not changing schedules on them every single week with a level of unpredictability, that they can’t plan for school, they can’t plan for caring for children or elders or other people in their families. So it’s about how do we have those set schedules, that set schedule that leads to us having, you know, effectively guaranteed hours, which means you can count on that consistency from a paycheck perspective, every single Friday. So we don’t want to be in that position where we’re calling someone on a Monday and saying, actually, you know what, we don’t need you on Wednesday this week. And then they’ve lost half of their paycheck for that week, that that’s not an environment where I think someone would want to stay for the long term because of that level of unpredictability. We absolutely have to think about the efficiency piece, how do we get better? How do we use technology to enhance what our colleagues are doing? How do we use it as technology to enhance the experience that customers have, but not goes too far that that it’s hindering that dynamic or that experience are leading us to a place where we’re choosing technology over people?

Steve 31:56
I appreciate that. Yeah, I think it’s fascinating right now, especially in this world of AI that we’ve all entered into all the sudden that the tools are now going to become so much more capable around designing for efficiency and in optimization, algorithms, etc, that the what I’m hearing, John is really the people come first, right? And how you the calculus of how Primark leadership is making decisions around things like scheduling and technology and development in which I think is really, really encouraging.

John Hadeed 32:29
Yeah, the people have to come first, whether that’s the customer or the colleague, the two of them together, I mean, think about a self checkout in store, designed to make things more efficient, because you can get on with checking yourself out on your own, you still need a person there when there’s an issue. And there are inevitably issues. I experienced them all the time myself as a customer, when something doesn’t go right, you then have to bring people back in. So is the technology designed in the right way to things to make things better for both of the people in those in those experience? And that experience?

Trish 33:02
That’s a good example. Because I think too, if you don’t have that, and there are stores out there right now where you know, you go and check out by yourself, and there’s no real help. And if the technology isn’t intuitive as well, then it’s like, you don’t even want to go back. Like it leaves such a waste your mouth, like, no one cares about me. Like no one said, Hello. When I walked in this place, I picked up my items, I rang myself out. I don’t know if I did it right or not. I hope I didn’t like I don’t know, I’ve walked in stores recently where I’m like, I don’t think I’m a shop here anymore. So I like that idea, even when you have a self service, because a lot of people love that. Yeah, but you still have that human touch. I actually just gave a presentation recently about that it was all about AI. And I said before we get started, we let’s talk about the human side, the heart side, right, that we still have to bring to work every single day. Otherwise, the technology it just makes people not want to, I don’t know, be consumers of yours, you know?

John Hadeed 34:01
It’s one of those things where we’re on our own journey around technology around how does technology enable the colleague experience? How does it enable the customer experience, that’s a journey for us. We’ve made massive investments, they’re launching new customer facing website, putting a stock tracker into place for the first time. So while you can’t buy something on our website, you can now actually log on and say, Oh, does Philadelphia have my favorite pair of jeans. So when I’m there next week, I have another pair so we’re putting these things in. We’re putting those things in to make the experience easier, but it’s a journey for us just like it is for any business.

Trish 34:39
I’ll tell you what, after I go and we can have I’m gonna like circle back with everyone and let y’all know. Yeah, I’ll do it in our vlog. I’ll do another vlog and show you all.

Steve 34:48
What a good idea. Hey, John, last question for me. Before we let you go let’s make it a little lighter. Maybe development and workforce optimization is I happen to be in Boston for the next couple The days which I believe I can find a Primark store, if I look around Yeah, hard enough, what should what should I be looking for when I walk in? Is there something going on maybe a new thing? Or whether it’s something you’re doing with the teams there? Or just some product or service? Or what should I what I walk in today, if I go, What should it Oh, yeah, told me to go check this out.

John Hadeed 35:20
So Steve, if you head to our store in Downtown Crossing in Boston, which is not too far from where you are right now, you’ll see a couple of things when you when you walk into the store. So first, you’ll see the latest collection from our global partnership with Rita Ora. So Rita Ora, an amazing singer, and performer and lifelong Primark fan, she grew up shopping us and our local store in the UK. And we were incredibly proud of this collaboration with Rita. So you’ll see the latest drop of that in our women’s department. And the other thing that you’ll see is our huge and really growing offer around our license partnerships. So we have an amazing partnership with Disney. We do quite a lot with Netflix, with so many different sports teams to bring again, amazing product that represent Mickey or Minnie or the Boston Celtics and the prices and the style that are that our customers know and love. So I think that’d be the other the other big thing you’d see in store right now.

Steve 36:30
Awesome. Well, I look forward to you. I’m gonna get over there today or tomorrow and report back Trish as well. And you can talk about your experience back in Philly, when you get there in a couple weeks too.

Trish 36:39
I was gonna say we’re gonna do a vlog then in a couple weeks. I’ll do a Primark haul. We’re gonna show and tell.

John Hadeed 36:45
We love that!

Trish 36:47
We’re gonna show and tell them we’re gonna take you all and show you what we got.

Steve 36:49
Not sure I have enough room in my suitcase. So I’ll make room. I’ll figure it out.

John Hadeed 36:53
We sell suitcases. They’re on the second floor at Downtown Crossing. Also at an amazing price. So you grab onto the way.

Steve 37:06
I know we’re having some fun here. But we also some serious stuff, right? This retail industry employs, like we said millions of workers around the world. It’s very important. Lots of people trying to figure out kind of their place in the employment world, and certainly right creating opportunities for folks to develop and grow and see. And we didn’t really get into this, and it’s my fault. I love the idea that, hey, you can be successful here. You don’t necessarily need that, you know, bachelor’s degree or an MBA or something. All right, there’s opportunity for other experiences that people have had in their lives. And we’re all about trying to talk about expanding access to opportunity in the workplace, right? And so as more and more people start to think about, what’s, where do I fit in the workplace, and maybe I don’t fit in a four year college program, or I don’t want to go $200,000 into debt, right to finance that. Right? I want to I want to know what else is out there for me and some of the things you’ve talked about John, here at Primark sounds, to me like least considering retail, and certainly considering Primark would be a great option for lots of folks, which I love that.

John Hadeed 38:13
I think retail is one of the best places for that. And it’s one of the things that we see, which is, you don’t need a college degree, you don’t need an advanced degree, what you need is a willingness to roll your sleeves up, learn the work, and show what you can do. And I think if there’s any, any industry that’s about your own performance, leading you to what’s next, it’s retail, because you can have that impact and not to go back maybe to where I started is, what I love about retail is we opened the doors to our historic downtown crossing, and you see every day the impact of our business in real time. And if you are working in one of our stores or anywhere in our business, you see the impact of what you do. And you learn from that. And you build a career that might take you into a senior HR role without having a college degree or into a finance role. Because you’ve learned how to buy product and stores. There are so many different ways you can go. And really, I think that’s the opportunity that we want to create from a retail career perspective.

Trish 39:18
Yeah, I also love the fact that you’ve been around for a long time, this is a well established, secure brand. So from the from the standpoint of someone’s listening, or they have, maybe they’re looking for a job or someone in their family. Right. This is a business that has been successful for a long time. Yeah. Sounds like you have lots and lots of plans to continue that right job security. And I also love that sustainability piece. We hear that so much, especially from younger people. Right? Not it’s not important to the rest of us, but certainly something that’s on the forefront of people’s minds nowadays. So I think, you know, obviously not every place is a people first sort of culture And I really appreciate the fact that you shared that you all were and I’m really excited to go back.

Steve 40:06
John, this has been great fun. I really enjoyed talking to you learning more about Primark learning more about some of the challenges and opportunities in retail and what you guys are doing to put people first i fantastic story. Thanks again for spending some time with us. And we will share some links out to some of the social handles for Primark, USA life at Primark, John your LinkedIn I think is what we have here. We’ll share that as well for folks to find you and go find a Primark look around in your city. If it’s not there, it’s probably coming soon and thanks again. So Trish, great stuff. We’ll look forward to your experience at Primark as well as mine will report back later on.

Trish 40:41
I’m excited because you know why I’m going to look for the lanyards especially, I always think it’s important to find those little ways to like identify employees and what they like about their jobs. So I’m a big fan of the lanyard with a pin.

John Hadeed 40:55
And that’s for someone with a with a pen.

Trish 40:59
I want to find that person.

Steve 41:02
Let’s all be very honest, shopping is a lot of fun. It’s just how it is right? It is fun to go to the store and shop for things.

John Hadeed 41:08
It is great fun at Primark.

Steve 41:12
I’m gonna have fun today. Okay, so we want to thank John again, for Trish Steed. My name is Steve Boese, thank you so much for listening to the show. All the show archives are at Thanks again and we’ll see you next time and bye for now.

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