Retail

The retail sector is a big and multifaceted business and with most companies now trading globally & online, there are many different career avenues to explore. As a constantly growing business, you will need to stay on top of upcoming trends and consumer demands, and be aware of your competitors. 

Many organisations offer fast-track management training schemes, with most offering one to two year graduate programmes, so graduates can advance very quickly up the career ladder.  

Career Prospects

Depending on what sector you’d like to work in many graduates tend to have fashion, business or marketing backgrounds. There is a vast array of sectors to work within in retail. They tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Buying
  • Customer Service
  • Finance & Administration
  • HR
  • IT
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Merchandising

Work experience can prove to be highly beneficial against competitors as the retail market is notoriously popular. 

Buying

Buying is one of the most highly sought after areas to work in within retail, so competition is fierce. As a buyer, you will be responsible for selecting and purchasing items for your company that will prove successful, so you will need to be able to predict oncoming trends and ensure that price, quality and availability meet customer demand. 

Expect to travel, whether it is to meet clients in Swansea or sourcing new products in Marrakech. Buyers need to stay ahead of the competition, so staying on top of consumer demand and being able to predict future trends are key in succeeding. You will need to build good relations with suppliers and be a skilful negotiator. You will also find yourself working with various departments and clients, so strong communication and people skills are essential.

You will also find yourself dealing with budgets, so you will need to have a level of numerical competency, be an accomplished data analyst and have excellent IT skills.

Expect to be researching current trends and new products often, whether that is travelling to trade shows, visiting competitor’s stores or scouring the Internet for consumer trends and new products. Above all, buyers need to stay informed and work well under pressure.

Merchandising

Merchandisers make sure that the right products appear at the right place and at the right time. Merchandisers aim to maximise profit by keeping a close eye sales figures and customer opinion. They liaise closely with buying and operations teams to make sure the stock is properly monitored and available. 
This is a job for those with excellent project management and organisational skills, who are competent at maths and can multitask several jobs at once without being overwhelmed by the pressure.

You will be analysing sales trends, monitoring deliveries and work closely with different teams to predict how well certain items will sell and how many you will need, ensuring stock satisfies demand.

You’ll need good analytical skills, passion, commercial knowledge, great communication and organisational skills as well as retail shop floor experience and an analytical or business related degree due to the numerical and statistical requirements of the role.

As Merchandising and Buying are often linked, you may find yourself shifting between the two.

What are employers looking for?

As with most jobs, appearance is important, though nobody expects you to dress as though you are on the runway everyday. Punctuality is always crucial as you may be regularly meeting with important clients or prospective brands. 

They will be looking for passionate and enthusiastic individuals with good analytical and communication skills, capable of hitting targets and be willing to work long hours. They will be looking for individuals with the ability to build strong relationships and be able to motivate others. 

Is it the right career for you?

No specific degree is required, although those with a background in business, marketing or fashion will have an upper hand. Any retail experience also helps, so working on the shop floor is a good place to start. Being self-motivated and dynamic are desirable traits, and you will need to be strategic and analytical. The job can involve long hours and lots of travelling.

You need to be able to communicate effectively and have good negotiation skills. Days are usually very busy, so you may find you are taking on several tasks at once so being able to prioritise your workload and work well under pressure are essential. Creativity and being forward-thinking in terms of consumer trends are also crucial in succeeding in retail.

Salaries

Salary (general): 
Estimated graduate starting salary: £17,000 - £26,000

Typical salary after training: £30,000 - £45,000+

Salary (merchandising): 
Estimated graduate starting salary: £20,000 - £40,000

Typical salary after training: : £20,000 - £40,000*
*http://www.skillsmartretail.com/sr/Careers/Getintoretail/default.aspx 

Salary (buying): 
Estimated graduate starting salary: £19,000 - £25,000

Typical salary after training: £27,000 - £55,000

 

Key articles for graduates entering the retail sector

Recruiters in this sector:

Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is a leading specialty retailer, brands include Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie, Hollister Co., and Gilly Hicks

adidas

At adidas, it connects us - whether we're working for adidas or Reebok. We're all working towards a future motivated by passion, original thinking, and the desire to build upon a proud legacy

AdMore Recruitment

AdMore Recruitment is a specialist, award winning recruitment company with a supportive, strongly values-based culture.

Aldi

Aldi are one of the fastest-growing, dynamic companies in the UK (and the world) today.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: BHM

AMAZON.CO.UK

Amazon is made up of builders and innovators, all of whom bring diverse backgrounds, brilliant ideas and varying points of view with them. Our rich tapestry of team members, from all around the world, means that we’re looking for great minds just like yours.

AO.com

We’re in the business of delivering better tomorrows. We may sell everything from washing machines to laptops and PlayStations, but at our core, our people always come first.

Asda

At Asda, we want to make lives easier. Happier. More fun. It’s why we’re all working hard to become the country’s most trusted retailer.

Atomic Live

Atomic Live have partnered with True Nopal to deliver an impact field sales team.

Avara Foods

Avara Foods is one of the UK’s leading food businesses supplying great tasting chicken, turkey and duck products to some of the biggest supermarkets and restaurants in the country.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: BHM

Bentley

Bentley is a unique place to work, with its own special culture and people who are all driven by the same ideal

Betfair

Betting makes sport more exciting and Betfair makes betting more exciting.

Boots

Boots, are one of the biggest names in health and beauty retailing

BOSCH

A global leader in technology and services.

Co-Operative Group, The

As the UK's largest co-operative business, The Co-operative Group is co-owned by close to six million members.

Deloitte

Deloitte provide Audit, Tax, Consulting and Corporate Finance services across all major industries.

deVere-Group

We provide expert international wealth advice to expatriate clients and international high net worth investors around the world.

Dixons Carphone

Dixons Carphone is Europe’s number one electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company, with more than 40,000 colleagues across nine countries, including the UK and Ireland.

Farmfoods

Farmfoods is a friendly, family run business with a real passion for our products, our customers and our people.

Freddie's Flowers

We deliver stunning flower arrangements with a bit of a wild side to about 11,000 beautiful homes every week.

GlobalData

We are a world-class data and analytics company, helping our 4,000 strong client base to decode the future to be more successful and innovative.

Heathrow

Heathrow Airport is a city within a city. Joining us is a chance to build your career in an organisation that matters to millions.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: LDN

Houzz

Starting out in Silicone Valley, Houzz has become the leading home renovation and design platform in the world.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: LDN

KFC

Our brand was born out of passion, determination, innovation and pride. The "Colonel" Harland Sanders has left a lasting impact on our business and 50 years on we are still doing things the way the Colonel meant for them to be done

Kraft Heinz

The Kraft Heinz Company is an American food company formed by the merger of Kraft foods and Heinz in 2015.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: LDN

LIDL

As a large international retailer, opportunities with Lidl are endless.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: BHM

P&G (Procter & Gamble)

Nearly five billion times a day, P&G brands such as Pantene, Gillette and Fairy Liquid touch people's lives globally.

Philip Morris International (PMI)

At Philip Morris International, we’re dedicated to doing something very dramatic – replacing cigarettes with the smoke-free products that we’re developing and selling.

Revolution Beauty

REVOLUTION BEAUTY is a market disrupter. As the Sunday Times' 3rd fastest growing beauty brand in the UK, we are bringing the concept of “fast beauty” to life.

Sports Direct

Sports Direct is the UK’s leading sports retailer by revenue and operating profit, and the owner of a significant number of internationally recognised sports and leisure brands.

Tesco

As well as being the U's number one retailer, Tesco is also Britain's largest private sector employer and provides fantastic graduate opportunities.

TK Maxx / HomeSense, part of TJX Europe

You might not have heard of TJX Europe, but you’ve probably heard of our brands – TK Maxx and Homesense.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: BHM LDN

Triumph Motorcycles

Triumph is the original British motorcycling company, it is a business that is famous for building iconic motorcycles, from the original Bonneville to the current Rocket, the unstoppable Tiger Explorer and the incredible Speed Triple.

UNIQLO

UNIQLO is a modern Japanese company that inspires the world to dress casual.

Wayfair

Wayfair believes everyone should live in a home they love. Through technology and innovation, Wayfair enables shoppers to easily find exactly what they want from a selection of 10 million items across home furnishings, décor, home improvement, housewares and more.

Company Info
Exhibiting at the following events: LDN

William Jackson Food Group

William Jackson Food group supply leading supermarket with brands such as Abel & Cole, Aunt Bessie's and Jackson's Yorkshire's Champion