Business men investors

I won’t confess to being a hearts and flowers man, but when Lidl launched its lingerie range for Valentine’s, even I steered clear of presenting my wife with a supermarket special. Despite its reputation for quality on a shoestring, I can’t help feeling Lidl’s latest “diversification” takes the own-label trend a step over the line. We may be protecting the pennies, but there are times when we’ve got to pay the price - or risk the repercussions. Right?

UK businesses spend in excess of £2.6bn a year on external recruitment, from low-end contingent agencies to sky-high retainers demanded by Waitrose equivalents. Yet despite the price tag, more than 75% of managers feel they don’t get value for their money. No wonder there’s a shift to DIY recruitment.

Paying a premium price suggests a few givens, whether you’re looking for your newest recruit or shopping around for a steak. You want quality for your money. You’re expecting a selection that matches your needs and a level of service worthy of the price tag. If I pay over the odds, it’s an augmented product I’m after: all bells and whistles, not Asda Smart Price.

But. If Lidl’s Agent Provocateur offering will meet the brief (pardon the pun), why go ahead and pay top dollar? To me, it’s not a question of budget vs top brand. It’s about the result. One survey showed 67% of consumers would happily go own brand for store cupboard groceries: but make the move to meat, and only 14% will risk it.

The same goes for recruitment. If I’m looking for seasonal temps to crunch data, my risks (and expectations) are fairly low. Tesco Value will do just fine, thanks. But when replacing my sales director, savvy shopping doesn’t make the cut. The stakes are high. I want a partner who understands exactly what I need. I’ll pay the top price to have the right fit, skills and experience.

DIY recruitment and budget agencies have a growing place in our evolving economy. But when your business results are on the line, it’s time to shop around. Top price doesn’t necessarily mean a top hire: but in the pursuit for talent that you can retain and rely on, expect to pay a penny or two for the privilege. Just make sure you know your supplier is good for it.

Personally, I’ll never see the value of a Mulberry purse. But when it comes to keeping the Mrs happy? Budget isn’t a risk worth taking.