Cross Company to scrap permanent-only contracts in tight labour market

Mar 15

Japan’s fastest growing fashion retailer for the past decade has announced a surprising move to do away with its policy of only employing permanent staff. The move comes as it plans to increase store numbers by more than a third in the next three years. In contrast, rival chains are keen to offer more permanent positions.

Cross Company has reversed its policy of only employing permanent staff. At present, all the company’s 3,150 employees are permanent employees, a rare situation especially in retailing, but it is now aiming to increase the number of non-permanent people to 25% long-term. The decision was taken to make it easier to hire staff as its various chains continue to expand rapidly, but it will also allow for costs to be reduced.

Currently, staffing at its Earth, Music & Ecology chain is 20% below optimum, meaning that permanent staff are overworked. The company also notes growing calls for more flexible work hours from younger staff, as well as new conflicts between junior and senior staff doing similar jobs.

Cross plans to employ 1,400 non-permanent people by January 2016. It will develop two working tracks called ‘Speed Career’ and ‘Slow Career’ designed to meet individual job aims.

Cross currently has around 1,200 stores but plans to increase this number by a third before 2018.

The move comes as rivals are looking to turn more casual employees into permanent staff, their own response to tight labour markets. Uniqlo is currently running a campaign to recruit permanent store staff across its entire chain, offering a wide range of perks including flexible hours, and the chance to work overseas or choose the part of Japan to work in.