DFS Group is the world’s leading luxury travel retailer, with a network of 420 boutiques on four continents. Established in Hong Kong in 1960, the company pioneers global luxury travel retail and offers customers a carefully curated selection of exceptional products. To effectively manage its portfolio of stores, DFS employs more than 9,000 employees globally in roles ranging from retail sales representatives to store managers, merchandisers, finance and IT. The DFS workforce also continues to grow across Singapore and Hong Kong, with more than 100 corporate hires and more than 200 frontline sales and sales manager hires each year.

The Challenge

The company wanted to enhance its recruitment capability in Singapore, Hong Kong and a few locations in the US, but its recruitment process was non-standardized and inconsistent – with recruiters managing the process in some countries and HR managing it in others. It was not set up to support fast growth . As DFS opened new stores and shifted to focus on e-commerce it needed a scalable recruitment model with a quicker process and access to talent specialized for e-commerce, such as solution analysts, UI/UX designers, digital marketers, project managers, and more. DFS also recognized the need for a differentiated candidate experience to attract the right talent in the highly competitive Singapore and Hong Kong markets.

DFS partnered with Cielo to augment their talent acquisition function and develop a standardized, innovative recruiting process. DFS also wanted to reduce time to fill open positions. With these objectives in mind, the team set an initial goal of 150+ retail sales roles filled within 10 months.

The Solution

Cielo’s first step toward implementing a solution was a comprehensive due diligence exercise. Cielo worked closely with DFS to understand all aspects of their existing recruitment process, including mapping stakeholders, capturing voice of hiring managers and HR stakeholders and auditing technology platforms. This enabled the Cielo and DFS team to develop a robust recruitment model, consistent across markets and tailored to target roles.

The solution included two strategies – one for high-volume roles like frontline salespeople and store managers and another for corporate roles. Both set out to deliver great customer and candidate experiences, and identified several key metrics, including time to fill, fulfilment ratio, agency usage and stakeholder satisfaction.

For the high-volume roles, the team used a source-and-screen model. Recruiters who specialize in the retail industry were supported by sourcing specialists in Cielo’s shared service center in Manila to identify and target high-quality talent to fill these roles.

For the corporate roles, the team used an end-to-end recruitment model to drive management, IT and e-commerce hiring within Singapore and Hong Kong. Cielo placed specialized senior recruitment specialists onsite in DFS offices to handle the end-to-end recruitment of the corporate roles and to drive stakeholder engagement.

For both strategies, the team leveraged Cielo’s proprietary CRM technology, SkyRecruit, to build pipelines and engage relevant candidates using DFS-branded campaigns. Once qualified through the first level of screening, recruiters would route candidates to the onsite teams.

The Results

The Cielo team built strong partnerships with DFS business unit managers and HR business partners. The collaborative process led to ample talent pipelines for DFS, which has reduced time to fill by over 20% in the first year.

Cielo’s shared-services team built talent market maps for corporate management and tech roles, to provide DFS managers a clearer view of the talent demand and supply and helped establish realistic timelines and expectations to fill the roles. Talent pipeline development and engagement started in parallel with program implementation, enabling the team to deliver quick wins to the business. For example, one senior supply chain role was open for four months prior to the Cielo partnership. The team filled that role within six weeks of go live.

“DFS was looking to ramp up hiring across key segments including retail operations, digital/e-commerce, and technology. We were looking for a recruitment process outsourcing partner that had the required market and domain expertise but could also be flexible and agile to address our evolving needs. Cielo proved themselves to be such a partner. In addition to achieving their target recruitment metrics, they demonstrated a strong focus on candidate experience and partnership ethos.”

– Irene Yip – Director, Global Talent Acquisition at DFS Group

Results like this laid the foundation for hiring managers to expect high-quality candidates and quick turnaround times from their RPO partners. The Cielo team also enabled the development of a specialized e-commerce team in Hong Kong, a strategic business need for DFS, and supported their organizational shift to focus on modern retail solutions.

In hiring for high-volume roles, the team achieved great results in the first year of our operations:

  • Built a candidate pool of 10,000 using Cielo’s SkyRecruit CRM
  • Introduced video interviewing
  • Hosted multiple recruitment days where hiring managers met and interviewed walk-in candidates for retail sales and management roles, with offers made the same day

As a result of these and other successful outcomes, DFS has extended their talent acquisition partnership with Cielo.


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