The ‘Q’ Factor

Our editor takes a look at an $8.8 billion West Chester-based company.

I must confess that I’ve never bought anything from QVC—not even in the wee hours of the morning with a few adult beverages in me (back when I stayed up past 10:30). And yet, the West Chester-based home-shopping network has millions of satisfied customers all over the world. Obviously, I’m the one who’s missing out.

This year, QVC is celebrating its 30th birthday. And with the holiday season fast approaching, now seems as good a time as any for a story on the $8.8 billion company. Contributing editor Tara Behan—our shopping authority—has obliged with “QVC at 30”, a well-conceived package that covers all the bases, including its colorful history and on-air personalities, some interesting facts and figures, and a look at its future.

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Hobart Rowland

Chef Joe McAllister

Chef Joe McAllister

My friend Joe McAllister has been a regular on-air presence at QVC since 2007. McAllister actually works for LiveVision, which is owned by “Blue Jean Chef” Meredith Laurence and chef-author-restaurateur Eric Theiss. He started at QVC as a food stylist in late 2006. “I responded to an ad on the job board at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill in Philadelphia,” he says. “By Thanksgiving, I was chosen to be on the set with Paula Deen and Bob Bowersox, carving Smithfield turkeys. LiveVision hired me in 2007.”

As for his schedule these days: “It’s not a 9-to-5 kind of thing, that’s for sure,” he admits. “I mostly work as the guest in cook shows in the overnight hours. I’m typically asked to work anytime between midnight and 6 a.m. Other times, I do prime-time shows if someone is blacked out on the calendar, on vacation, or ill.”

For anyone who assumes that selling cookware at 3 a.m. isn’t a great gig, McAllister would beg to differ. “The live aspect is really the best thing,” he says. “Viewers get to see you demonstrate products in real time.”

With 17,000 employees and broadcasting in seven countries, QVC is an acknowledged asset to our region’s economy. But it hasn’t always been the bearer of good news, especially recently. In its efforts to streamline and further globalize its operations, the company has laid off more than 500 employees in two years. In late 2015, it shuttered its local jewelry-returns department and transferred the work to its better-equipped facility in Florence, S.C., eliminating 147 jobs. Word of the latest hit came this past February, as QVC made plans to move portions of its HR, IT, finance and legal departments to Krakow, Poland. All said and done, the transition will cost 100 employees at the West Chester campus their jobs, with another 120 layoffs in the U.K., Germany and Italy.

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But the news isn’t all bad: QVC is still hiring people by the hundreds worldwide. And McAllister, for one, wouldn’t trade his experience at the company for anything. “The people behind the scenes are fantastic,” he says. “There is always a jolly atmosphere on the set. I love them all.” 

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