Men’s Warehouse Deals With Store Isolation With Pizza

Written by Evan Schuman
May 18th, 2011

When apparel chain Men’s Warehouse threw a surprise pizza lunch for “employee appreciation” this past weekend, no IT people were invited. That lack of invite also extended to the retailer’s E-Commerce team and, for that matter, all operations teams. And it was all by design.

Like almost all national chains, Men’s Warehouse struggles with ways to bring its store personnel into the corporate culture fold. At headquarters buildings and large warehouses, there are lots of easy ways to bring people together. “We’ve had back-to-back barbecues” at headquarters, and distribution centers have had “prom kickoff parties and bowling nights.” And the chain subsidizes corporate cafeterias, so all lunches at corporate locations are subsidized to a degree.

Logistically, though, those types of things are not that easy with about 14,000 employees spread over 1,206 stores. For bonding, videoconferences and company-wide E-mails can only take someone so far.

The chain’s answer? Arrange— surreptitiously, mind you—for 5,300 pizzas to be cooked and delivered on Sat., May 14. To get the pizzas—one-third plain and two-thirds pepperoni—delivered involved a partnership with Domino’s Pizza (which could handle all but 45 of the chain’s stores) plus dozens of small pizzerias around the country, said Julie Panaccione, the Men’s Warehouse VP for Corporate Culture and Events. For the record, one store in Ontario, Canada, was skipped due to a problem with a local pizzeria, which did promise to make the delivery at a later date.

To identify the local pizza parlor favored by those stores while still keeping the secret secret, a member of Panaccione’s team called the stores and lied to them, saying that he worked for a major pizza chain and wanted to know the name of their favorite local pizza restaurant.

Every delivery was accompanied by a letter from corporate.


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