Icebreaker Reviews

Updated March 25, 2015
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2.9
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Rob Fyfe
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Employee Reviews

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  1. Great company, needs more vision

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Icebreaker

    Pros

    Great people to work with, good teamwork and friendship, coffee and drinks, awesome products.

    Cons

    A little disorganized, lack of clarity around situations or upcoming gates

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Lack of vision about what the company stands for, no insights into forward planning and future innovations.

    Negative Outlook
  2. 2 people found this helpful

    Toxic Culture

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Key Holder
    Former Employee - Key Holder

    I worked at Icebreaker

    Pros

    Good benefits (if you're full time), and the company gives you a generous allotment for the uniform twice yearly. The employee discount is also pretty generous. The team I worked with at my location was really great, great attitude and atmosphere. I also learned a lot about customer service, selling, visuals, and made a lot of friends at my store. And despite that I wasn't getting paid appropriately, I learned a lot of valuable things about managing. The products are also really great and of good quality. I genuinely mean it when I say I enjoyed sharing Icebreaker's story with customers and selling them the best product for their needs. I just didn't like it that my superiors were valuing money over these relationships.

    Cons

    Despite the fact that Icebreaker is 20 years old, the company and those within it behave as though they've never run a company before. What little organization there is is constantly undermined by changing management and changing job descriptions. I worked at the company for over two years, and in that time we changed CEOs, went through 4 district managers, (two quit, two fired), and each US based store went through at least one manager, and in some locations, as many as three. Only a few of these departures were genial...most people either quit out of frustration or were fired. I actually think I worked at my store longer as a sales associate than most people in our US corporate office. Retail generally has a high turn-over rate, but when you're able to hang on to associates longer than those in your corporate office, it says something bad about your culture and hiring practices.

    There is also no clearly defined hierarchy within the company. The definitions of the roles change approximately quarterly. Within the store, key holders are expected to act in management positions without compensation. They will claim it is a part of your job to manage other employees but will avoid paying you for that position. Full-time key holders regularly act as either assistant managers or, increasingly (as managers jump ship) as managers, since it takes the company 1-2 months to hire a replacement. The DMs regularly pass on projects to managers, so that managers don't have time to actually manage their employees but are rather constantly filling out paperwork or on conference calls. If there is one lesson I learned while working at Icebreaker, it's that if they can get away without paying you, they won't.

    There is a lot of pressure to make money and a huge focus on monetary goals. The attitude is that if a goal isn't achieved, then it's squarely your fault, and you can expect berating phone calls from upper management interrogating you about what you did wrong. These phone calls can last from ten minutes to an hour. There are a lot of directions to try certain selling behaviors, but a refusal to listen to feedback when these behaviors are ineffective.

    Corporate employees are also very rude. They ignore sales associates and will leave the store for hours on visits to eat lunch with the manager, while you can't go on a lunch break because you've been left alone in the store. I was once told to "just eat my sandwich by the cash wrap" in one of these instances. Apparently, they were unbothered by the illegality of working on breaks or not receiving a break. They also have a generally condescending attitude, which is really insulting since I was expected to act as a manager countless times, yet never once received recognition for my efforts by anyone in the office. They will expect you to work above your station, but not act above your station.

    Worst of all, they will string you along. I was often promised various promotions or raises, but these hardly ever came through. When I was finally given a raise, it came 6 months after it was first promised. There's also really no review process, so things just stay as they are. I filled out a very long review detailing my grievances with the company. It was so angrily written that I thought I might get fired for it. But I got no response. I'm convinced nobody read it. There is no room for advancement within this company. Trust me, I tried multiple times. They will make promises to trick you into staying and tell you you are valuable and play with your emotions, but you'll never see anything for it. Then they will disrespect you and treat you like a low level associate despite that you've been bending over backwards for them and working above your pay grade.

    Simply put, this company doesn't know what they are doing. They don't know how to manage, they don't know how to respect their employees, and they don't understand basic marketing and will instead berate employees about lack of sales. Trust me, selling will on a 90 degree day isn't easy, but you will be told the lack of sales has nothing to do with the weather, but rather your failure as a seller. And when you do manage to work magic on the sales floor and make a huge sale, nobody really wants to hear about it. The company is focused on failure rather than success, has a way of making its employees feel small, and an utter lack of character. It's working for a corporate machine at its finest. This job will suck out your soul. Stay away.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please define your hierarchy clearly. Never ask associates to perform tasks above their pay grade -- this will only lead to bitterness and resentment. If someone is expected to perform certain tasks, make that clear at the start and pay them accordingly. Also, please stop treating your employees like automatons. Especially store managers. There's a reason you've lost so many recently. And please, please, please, just pull yourselves together. The number of silly mistakes made on a weekly basis (wrong signage shipped to the store, defective product ignored, shipments lost, communication errors, lack of communication, maintenance issues ignored, I could go on...) was overwhelming and laughable.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  3. 1 person found this helpful

    We sell merino, and not very well.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Icebreaker full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    People I worked with were fun and passionate about Icebreaker. Product is amazingly soft and people love it. Respectful time off allowances.

    Cons

    Absolutely, positively, unequivocally the worst run retail business I've ever been a part of. Based in New Zealand, the leaders do not believe Americans should be involved in business decisions because of a fear of being taken over, yet they have a corporate office here? Retail stores are struggling, badly. No processes, no procedures to anything. It's actually unbelievable that during orientation, my manager told me there is no manual or formal process to do anything so we had the ability to run things our own way. Say what? Icebreaker has been in the business for 20 years, but it feels like a startup, with no one smart leading. The CEO JM had visited my store a few times and he's the major problem at the core of Icebreaker. He seemed to have a different vision every time he visited and blurted out crazy ideas and expected everyone to jump to meet his crazy changing needs. What this did is damage the customer idea about Icebreaker because we never did anything long enough to measure it, because it would change a month later. There was no clear direction or communication aside from a weekly store document and some merchandising direction that came infrequently, but overall were left to our own devices. In the year that I worked for the company I had two different managers and two different regional managers. I was friendly with people at the corporate office, and heard a lot of people were looking to leave, because of how frustrated people were with the New Zealand office and inability to do anything because no one knew what was in charge of making a decision. The people that did leave were angry about it, I've never seen anything like it. Frustration and anger all around. Honestly, by far, the worst retail company ever - stay away unless you really enjoy roller coaster rides with no safety bars.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Dump JM and get someone to lead the company that has long term visions and trust that people are passionate about making Icebreaker win. Otherwise Icebreaker will cease to exist in the next few years, because more companies are selling merino and they don't have a lack of focus like Icebreaker does.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful

    Enjoyable job but keep a rainy day savings because you will probably be laid off.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Marketing in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Marketing in Portland, OR

    I worked at Icebreaker full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great people, great atmosphere, fun product to work on/sell. Large liquor cabinet in corporate HQs which equals fun parties.

    Cons

    The management seems to feel their way through growth blindly, and most often has to lay off entire teams of people and move teams from one city to another (or one country to another) to achieve their growth goals. I saw teams of people being laid off before my layoff and know of lots of layoffs that have happened since my ties were severed. They do not value commitment from employees and do not give any reason to want to be loyal to the Icebreaker family. Icebreaker also values partying a lot, and if you don't enjoy drinking a lot you might get shunned as being "anti-social" if you are not careful.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. Great ideals, poor structure

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Icebreaker

    Pros

    Discounted apparel, people, friendly Kiwis

    Cons

    No structure or drive to improve

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
  7. Good company, still growing.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Sales Associate in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Icebreaker part-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    The employee discount was good and the management was flexible and accommodating. The SF store is in a high traffic area and receives a diverse range of customers. The store also has neat events that they put on occasionally, such as when displaying new seasonal merchandise. The merino wool products are good quality and great for active sports or just wearing around.

    Cons

    Lots of standing around during the slow parts of the day. The SF flagship store is rather small and monotonous. No more cons than the average retail sales job.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management is doing a good job fostering the right culture and promoting the brand.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  8. 2 people found this helpful

    Retail store - Great pay for retail, but the boredom is still included.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Retail Sales Associate in Woodburn, OR
    Current Employee - Retail Sales Associate in Woodburn, OR

    I have been working at Icebreaker part-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    The pay is great compared to other retailers. Management accommodates your living situation, let's say if you were to move to a new city - they may up your pay rate. If you love to organize, Icebreaker/retail is your job to have. The co-workers tend to match up with the company culture/lifestyle - very laid back, fun, outgoing, talkative. You are surrounded with amazing clothing. The company discount is very generous and you get to pick out an outfit or two when you first initially start with the company.

    Cons

    Retail is slow. You have to be O.K. with keeping yourself busy. Inventory count/seasonal changes are tedious. The turnover rate is consistent given that retail isn't usually an end-goal for someone's career - all depends though.

    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful

    Beware of clique at NYC stores

    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Icebreaker

    Pros

    There used to be but now that I'm more familiar with the workings of the company, none.

    Cons

    Applied for a job at the NYC touch labs, where after two successful interviews was told by management that praised my experience and skills, that 'I was great, but did not fit in the "family,"'whatever that means.
    Manager indicated that personality was much more important than skills and knowledge.
    Asked inappropriate questions during interview process.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Management needs to decide whether they wish to run a business or a social clique in their efforts to grow a successful company.

    Doesn't Recommend
  10. Work hard, play hard, sleep well!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Contractor - Account Manager in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Contractor - Account Manager in Los Angeles, CA

    I have been working at Icebreaker as a contractor (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    The most satisfying product and philosophy I have ever sold.

    Cons

    I have only good things to say about this brand!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  11. Great Company. Specializes in Merino wool from NZ.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Touchlab Consultant in Portland, OR
    Former Employee - Touchlab Consultant in Portland, OR

    I worked at Icebreaker

    Pros

    Eco friendly. Sustainable practices. Fun work environment. Located in New Zealand and their US offices in Portland Oregon. Incredible products.

    Cons

    Product quality sometimes had it's QC issues, but for the most part was made with high standards. Pricing was high.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Look to promote people from within the organization who are passionate about what they do and who love the company that they work for.

    Recommends

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