My first Etam Groep Impressions. I have the virus!!

By Peter, August 19, 2009 23:57

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After almost three weeks at EtamGroep in Zoetermeer everyone is probably wondering how I am doing there. Being a CFO in fashion. Being a man in a company where 90% of the employees are women. Working with a female CEO. Questions that were asked already a few months ago, but could not be answered then. I will try to give some first impressions.

6561152_680_1233238385915-Beatrice-LafonnnOn my first day I was presented by Beatrice Macdonald (the CEO) to the complete headquarters community in Ed’s Café, the café we have on the ground floor in our office in Zoetermeer. She introduced me in Dutch and I was given the opportunity to say a few words. Of course I was very delighted to have the chance to introduce myself. My main message was (and still is): I am just a human being with two arms and two legs and nothing more and nothing less than all of you, so please find me and come to me if you think we (or I) can do things better. Let’s have fun! It’s a beautiful company. I will do my best!

Of course the first days I spent most of the time meeting a lot of my new colleagues, but (unfortunately) not all 2.600, you can imagine. But also the annual accounts (book year ending at July 31) have to be made. So much work to be done. emplacementI was taken also to the local ‘dark-room’ where all our IT systems were gently whirring and of course I was guided through the DC. Wow, what a system. And as all of you will probably know, is the fact that men (no matter what age) always want to play with trains. And the system in the DC is one large train yard, where all kind of clothes on hangers are put on the railway right out of the truck, not knowing where they will go (but of course the operators of the system will know). But most likely they will leave the DC the same day to be transported to the shops.

promiss-koopgootI also visited 11 stores on one day. Promiss stores as well as Miss Etam stores. It was more or less a race against the clock, but despite the traffic jams we managed to succeed. The area manager not only showed me one of our flagshipstores (Rotterdam Oosterhof), furnished on the basis of our newest designs, but also the outlet stores and some older ones. And I only encountered were enthusiastic people, managing ‘their’ shop with so much passion; this is real retail. The customer is the most important person in our value chain and we all know, we all believe, we all feel. Of course the store managers were informed in front. The new CFO is coming! But probably I did not meet the expectations. I was not that grey mouse, they expected to meet. I did not ask for all kind of KPI’s or financial statistics. I came to pick up a piece of the feeling our devoted store employees have. I came to find the secret behind our success. I wanted to be infected by the Etam virus and in our stores and on the work floor in Zoetermeer the chance would bviruse the highest to be infected. And I can tell you all: I have it!! And I do not need any medicine.

Of course the world of fashion is so much different from the publishing world I come from. But one of the things I had to get used to was not wearing a tie. Or even further than that: not even wearing a suit. I found out that a jeans and a jacket would also do. Earlier today we had an opening of a new store (Beukerstraat 45, Zutphen) and that was a good reason to search my wardrobe for a nice grey suit and one of my Burberry ties and matching cufflinks. And although temperatures reached almost 30 degreed centigrade, I felt comfortable. On the other hand I must admit, that the tie went off in the afternoon after returning on our head office base.

6a00d8342ddbc753ef00e54f249ecb8833-800wiThe Etam Groep feels like a warm bath. There is so much energy in this company and that has everything to do with the people. As I wrote, people are so devoted and they succeed in bringing the best, not only for themselves but also for their colleagues as their colleagues do the same. It’s just like some sort of self reinforcing machine. One of the secrets is of course the energy of the CEO who probably does not need any sleep at all (how can she do so much work in normal working hours) but also the culture and the company values which find their origin in the fact that Etam Groep is a family owned company. These family standards and values brings the employees closer to each other and make them feel more co-entrepreneur than employee on every level of the company.

I am proud that I have become part of that community. I definitely have the virus. It will cause no fever, but it will bring extra energy. I do not need a vaccin, no antidote! I will give my best!


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