New JLR uniform diktat angers retailers

JLR has imposed new sales staff uniform rules on retailers following the “House of Brands” PR disaster that appeared to signal the demise of the Land Rover name. Using JLR’s preferred supplier the uniforms cost more than £1,000, according to one retailer.

The new rules were published in April in JLR’s ‘The Look Book’ which sets out what staff should wear under the new House of Brands strategy and combine very dark blue suits with white leather trainers and white t-shirts or black roll-neck jumpers.

One JLR retailer told Auto Retail Agenda: “It’s a typically ill-conceived idea from JLR so we have some challenges with it.

“The Look Book says all salespeople have to wear plain white leather trainers and black roll-neck jumpers or white t-shirts with a suit jacket and for outdoors it’s a black trench coat. These things aren’t cheap, so who pays for them?

“JLR says that’s the responsibility of the dealer but because it’s either unbranded or very subtly branded, if the retailer pays for it, the clothing could be subject to benefit-in-kind taxation. We may have to look at either a clothing allowance or a pay rise to cover this. But with a 30% staff turnover in sales staff and £500 costs per person, it’s not cheap.

“We have to submit evidence to JLR by 16 June about how we’re going to achieve the new look.”

The retailer added that while the black outfits with white trainers look great on models in a catalogue, they expressed concern about how they’d look on regular people and how they’d look after a month or two’s wear.

A spokesperson for JLR said: “As part of our mission to elevate the luxury credentials of our retail and client experiences, a new standard has been set for personal presentation. Guidelines have been developed to establish a consistent, modern look using a simple and practical palette of navy and white. Retailers have the freedom to adopt ready-to-wear or bespoke items according to budget and procure through a supplier of their choice.”

Chris Clark from the John Clark Motor Group, which represents JLR in six locations in Scotland, said: “We’ve already got our team in uniforms and we pay for those. We see it as a benefit to working for us. We aren’t anti-uniform; the challenge is when you have to spend a lot of money and it becomes cost prohibitive when you’ve got 25 or more people per site that are customer facing.

“JLR’s initial guidance and cost parameters suggested that if you used their recommended suppliers then you were looking at a four-figure sum per person. That’s not tenable, so we’re looking for a local supplier that can provide the clothing at a lower cost.”

Clark added: “Our issue with the JLR uniform is that our people don’t want to go back into suits. We feel it’s better to look similar to our customers and they tend to be in a polo shirt these days.

“JLR has been understanding for us because we’ve just replaced our staff uniforms and we’ve agreed to adopt the new JLR look when these wear out which will probably be in a year or so.”

He added that John Clark Group solves any issues with benefit-in-kind by working with a corporate workwear provider that knows the rules and how to work with them. He recommended that other retailers in the same situation do the same thing.