Leadership and management roles take many forms. Here we take a look at a career in retail leadership and management roles.
The retail industry generated £340 billion in sales in 2015 and it is the largest private sector employer in the UK. The sector is a varied as it is large and includes businesses of all sizes offering a multitude of services and products. There is therefore plenty of opportunity to specialise in an area of retail that you love such as entertainment or to progress through different roles if change is what you like.
As a retail manager, no matter which area of retail you work in, the primary focus has to be on excellent customer experience and this means keeping up with the times.
The skills that you need to be successful in retail management include great communication skills, a commitment to customer service, good commercial awareness, the ability to lead, a thorough understanding of the retail sector and the ability to analyse data.
As with any retail career, the hours of work can include weekends and evenings. Earnings will largely depend on what stage of your career you are at but can range from £20,000 to £40,000 on average and go up as high as £70,000 for senior managers in large organisations.
As a manager in retail you would be expected to oversee the recruitment of staff, control budgets, analyse and report on sales figures, manage a team, deal with customer queries and organise promotional events – all with a view to improving the commercial performance of the store.
The beauty of retail is that it is an industry that allows team members to progress from an entry level role up to management and this is a very common route. You are often able to evidence your ability and desire promotion and to access training that will help you achieve this.
You can of course choose to study for a management career in retail and there are certificates, diplomas and degrees in retail management available.
Alternatively you could begin your career as an apprentice in retail and with apprenticeships available at Levels 2 and 3 there is a progression pathway through apprenticeships.
Another way to begin your retail management career is through a graduate trainee management programme. This would allow you to develop your skills in a supportive environment and often pay very well for those who have gained a good and relevant degree.
Where to find opportunities
It’s worth visiting the website of the retail company that you would like to work for to look for vacancies, graduate schemes and apprenticeships. If you’re not sure who you would like to work for then you could visit the In Retail website to search for jobs or find out more about the industry.
Becoming a retail manager – the apprentice route
There are apprenticeships in retail at Levels 2,3 and 4. It is therefore possible to work your way from entry straight from school to a management position through apprenticeships.
The Level 2 Retailer Apprenticeship, which lasts for a minimum of 12 months, provides the ideal stepping stone into the Level 3 Team Leading Apprenticeship which again is likely to last for 12 months. Progression from here is possibly onto the Level 4 Retail Manager Apprenticeship, which in turn can lead to a role as retail store manager, senior retail manager or area manager position.
What will you learn on the Retail Manager Apprenticeship?
You would learn how to manage positive customer experiences, to understand the market and drivers of profit, how to analyse information and how to report on results, leadership styles, marketing, communication skills, target setting, branding, merchandising, technological requirements in retail, how to develop others, how to recruit and develop staff, relevant legislation and social responsibilities and equality and diversity policy and practice.
How you would be assessed
Assessment will take the form of a two hour written exam with a combination of short and extended answer questions, some incorporating scenarios; a project requiring the you to look at a strategic challenge, opportunity or idea within their retail environment and a one hour structured meeting led by an independent assessor, involving the you and your employer focusing on how you have performed during the apprenticeship and your overall achievement of the knowledge, skills and behaviours in the apprenticeship standard.