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Passion and service in city'super list

Published on Thursday, 09 Feb 2012
Thomas Woo, president of the city’super Group, now oversees outlets in three cities across Asia. Expansion into the mainland is ahead.
Photo: Berton Chang

Few companies have expanded as rapidly of late as the city'super Group. The Hong Kong-headquartered luxury-lifestyle chain now operates in three cities across Asia and is already laying the groundwork for several outlets on the mainland.

"We're expecting a multi-fold increase in size over the coming five years," says company president Thomas Woo.

To fuel this growth, the burgeoning chain is now hiring in all of its areas of business. The bulk of positions, of course, are with its bread-winning and namesake supermarket division. Along with the lifestyle-gadget, and food-and-beverage arms, the grocery unit is actively seeking buyers and merchandisers at all levels. For those wishing to master the retail-trade from the ground up, the company is also offering a vast number of junior sales positions.

Woo, who started his career at Japanese department-store chain Seibu, spent over two years on the sales floor, even though he held a college degree at the time.

While he doesn't expect many of today's graduates to follow in his footsteps, the seasoned retailer insists that a few years of sales experience can go a long way for those seeking advancement in the industry.

"If you ask a fresh graduate in Hong Kong to stand on the sales floor, even for two months, they probably won't - they're looking for a management position," notes Woo. "But the question is: How can they manage things if they don't understand how the business works?" 

Aside from its retail arms, the company is also adding positions in its wholesale division. Those with merchandising or logistics experience are of particular value in this area.

It's of little doubt that as the firm grows, so will its need for support staff. In anticipation of this, cross-divisional functions - such as marketing, human resources and IT - have also jumped in on the hiring. As for which division might offer the best career prospects, Woo suggests that following one's interests is probably the best approach.

"It really depends on what type of person you are and what your passion is," he says. "To be a food buyer, for example, you have to love eating. So, while we're looking for talent at all levels, the most important thing is that they are passionate."

Also important, Woo adds, is a love for service. "If you're working in retail, you have to be service-oriented," he says. "If you're not, don't waste your time here."

Once hired, all city'super staff receive a full suite of benefits, which include medical insurance, birthday leave, a year-end bonus - even a mid-year bonus. Employees are also entitled to a monthly achievement allowance, depending on team performance.

On the training side, much of the focus remains on the sales teams. However, the company's office staff are provided with free Mandarin classes, Microsoft Excel training and e-learning opportunities. Plans for a company-wide mentoring programme are also on the horizon.

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