Of the 1.3 million companies in the UK, Richer Sounds ranked as one of the top British owned business to work for, for the second year running - Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for 2003.
'You need only step into Richer Sounds’ head office in southeast London to realise that making work fun is a concept that Britain’s largest hi-fi retailer takes very seriously indeed. Among the desks and computers and hard-working employees you can find a whole army of wacky artworks, including a life-size Elvis and Fido, the world’s most welcoming (and overexcited) dog.'
The appeal is obvious, according to Julie Abraham, its stock control director: ‘I spent four years with IBM, where everybody did everything ‘properly’. I came here, and people wear jeans and shorts in the summer.
I wasn’t sure if it was going to work for me, but you just get hooked. Everybody’s completely mental. An impressive 90% of her colleagues find their teams ‘fun to work with’, and 91% say that they can have a laugh with colleagues.
‘We all know what we’re working for and how our work fits in,’ says Lol Lecanu, the marketing manager. ’everybody is singing from the same hymn book, and it made me understand my role and how I have an impact on the company.’
Communication is excellent, with all staff having ample opportunity to give feedback at seminars, suggestion meetings and branch dinners. Teresa Chapman, Richer’s PA, says: ’You can speak to people at all levels. If anyone wants to see Julian, he’ll see them as soon as he can. That’s policy.’
Salaries Are High For The Retail Industry: A Senior Sales Assistant Can Expect £18,000. The Perks Are Also Impressive: The Loan Of Holiday Homes In Locations Such As Paris And Barcelona; Free Massages, Facials And Pedicures At Christmas. There Is Even A Take-Your-Pet-To-Work Scheme.
Promotion from within is the norm; the majority of head office staff have worked on the shop floor. ’The beauty of Richer Sounds is that it is willing to recognise people’s potential, and allow them to develop into a role that they may not have previously considered,’ says Lecanu, who started her career 11 years ago with a summer job on the shop floor. ’I think if I were a store manager for another company and wanted to be a marketing manager, I don’t think many companies would have taken me seriously.’
Ricky Faust had been working for the company for more than 20 years when he came up with the suggestion of doing corporate sales: ’They said, ’Well, try it out.’ I was managing the Holborn branch and I wrote to 100 companies and got a 10% response.’ Now he is corporate sales director.
The suggestion scheme, with a cash bonus of at least £5 for each idea and quirky incentives for the best, has been remarkably successful, producing on average 20 suggestions a year from each employee.
Richer Sounds is also socially responsible, giving one of the highest proportions of pre-tax profits (5%) to charity of any UK company. It is not surprising that 86% of employees say they are proud to work there.'