How we helped a luxury luggage brand’s HR team successfully negotiate a major retail review

As a leading luxury luggage company, Antler has been at the forefront of British design and craftsmanship for over 100 years. However, in the last few years, the company has been going through a turnaround, involving a major relocation of employees, as the company looks to secure its future.

About Antler

  • Founded in 1914
  • Great British Design
  • 360 staff

The Challenge

As a business that had four CEOs in just four years and a constantly changing business strategy, Antler faced several major challenges:

  • A lack of a defined ‘Antler culture’ within the business.
  • Changes within the HR team, with the departure of the HR Director and little in-house capability meaning that the capacity and expertise for dealing with the forthcoming changes would severely test the function.
  • An immediate need to look at all employment contracts across the group, which would require significant resource.
  • There was a serious challenge as the company was about to embark on a major retail review of its stores, to identify those that were performing poorly and make changes to store management as necessary.

If these challenges were not successfully navigated, it would directly threaten the success of the current business strategy.

The Solution

Antler went out to tender for a suitable partner to assist them and after careful consideration selected ESP, which was able to guarantee access to a wealth of online documentation, policies and document precedents, drafted by a dedicated employment law advisory team from ESP. However, it was the unlimited access to a dedicated employment lawyer — chosen carefully to ensure a good personality match — that proved the major game-changer for Antler, according to HR Manager, Joanne Shaw.

According to Joanne, the wealth of issues she faced in those first few months, including managing performance, grievances and disciplinaries, all had an employment law angle and required a huge amount of operational support. For the first six months of the relationship, Joanne explains that she was talking to her ESP lawyer nearly every day.

Since ESP has been working with Antler, the business has successfully negotiated what could have been an incredibly tricky period, fraught with issues. Not only has the partnership with ESP allowed Antler to save considerably on the cost of specialist employment law advice, it has also let it expand its capability in employment law, which has started to have an impact across the business.

Additionally, the successful negotiation of the retail review and firefighting on employee issues has freed up more time and resource to work on strategic initiatives that will move the business forward. Already, the focus has shifted to embarking on projects such as employee engagement and a leadership development programme, which are helping the HR team make a serious commercial difference for Antler — something recently recognised at board room level.

Initially, I did not believe they would be able to deliver everything they promised, but ESP have exceeded my expectations. 

When I was promoted to HR manager, with responsibility for all HR within the business, I really appreciated how ESP cared about me personally and understood the challenges and responsibilities I faced.

Key to the relationship has been Nina Robinson, my dedicated employment lawyer, with whom I’ve had day-to-day contact discussing employment law advice. I love how Nina ‘gets’ what I’m trying to do and gives appropriately tailored advice for our business. From such close contact, I now feel more empowered to deal with issues myself and take on the bigger projects that I know will have a major impact on the business.

Joanne Shaw
HR Manager, Antler Ltd - February 2017

The ESP Difference

Every day, businesses like yours find ESP gives them so much more

Unlimited specialist employment law advice, tailored specifically to your business needs.

A dedicated legal advisory team assigned to you, including two practising employment lawyers as a minimum.

Full control of budgetary resources with low, fixed annual subscription.

Instant online access to a wealth of legally compliant, up to date HR and employment law documentation.

Hundreds of companies have already woken up to 'The ESP Difference'.

Discover how we can help you make a serious commercial difference in your organisation by speaking to one of our team now.


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