Peta Granger from Lush says: ‘I think for us to cut people’s wages and to expect continued growth and engagement in this climate would have just been a silly business decision.’ Image Credit: Photograph by Tracey Nearmy/AAP.
On Sunday the Fair Work Commission’s controversial cuts to penalty rates took effect across the country, affecting thousands of workers in the retail, pharmacy, fast-food and hospitality industries.
But there were some companies, across those sectors, that stood firm and decided not to pass on the penalty rate cuts.
‘I cannot imagine a situation where we would consider cutting anyone’s wages’
For Peta Granger, director of national cosmetics chain Lush, the decision not to pass on the penalty rates cuts was “easy and immediate”.
And she got an almost immediate reaction from the public: “We saw a huge rise in footfall into our stores,” says Granger. “Customers into our stores after the announcement were up 65% on the same time last year, so that’s clearly had a huge impact on sales.”
The cosmetic company, which employees around 450 full-time and casual staff across 32 retail stores, has been through tough times recently: in 2011 when Granger came on board it was losing $5m a year and in danger of being closed by its British parent company.
Granger says it was the hard work and dedication of the staff that turned the business around and she couldn’t countenance the idea of cutting the rates once it returned to profit. “To reward them now with falling wages would have been a total betrayal of that relationship.”
She’s happy to speak up on the issue: “We want to encourage other employers to carefully consider the implications on their staff before making this choice and I think for us to cut people’s wages and to expect continued growth and engagement in this climate would have just been a silly business decision.”
The company is committed to retaining the penalty rates in the long term. “I cannot imagine a situation where we would consider cutting anyone’s wages,” says Granger.
Instead she is implementing what she describes as “a business model that shares the wealth and the profit with the people who generate them”, with generous profit-share bonus schemes.
“It’s only those models where everyone has an opportunity to thrive, that’s what creates what I think guarantees long-term growth and prosperity for the business, by making sure that everyone can thrive and is engaged and driven to make the business a success”.