Student Advice - Career Search - Retail Manager - Sales - Retail
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Retail Manager

Retail Manager

Tell me about it
Retail managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of a department or store, following company policies and procedures. This includes ensuring that the store reaches sales targets and increases profits. The focus of any retail manager's job is to improve the commercial performance of the company, working towards an increased market share by exploiting opportunities to maximise profitability, increase customer satisfaction and ensure continued business growth. A major part of the job is managing and motivating staff to increase sales and improve efficiency. The work also includes making sure that supplies are re-ordered in time and that stock is of the right quality.

Managers are responsible for attracting and keeping customers, so they must make sure that their staff maintain a high level of customer service. They may have to deal with individual queries, from questions about store cards to complaints about purchases. They also deal with health and safety and security issues.

Entry level
There are several routes to becoming a retail manager. You could start your career as a sales assistant with no or few qualifications and work your way up. Competency-based internal training may be available, which may be linked to relevant qualifications.

You could enter via an in-company management training scheme. These are increasingly aimed at those with a degree, foundation degree or HNC/HND. Any subject is acceptable, but relevant courses include retail management, marketing and business studies. Some stores run schemes for those with two A levels/three H grades or equivalent qualifications.

Several retail groups now offer sponsorship on specific degree courses, with no tuition fees to pay and guaranteed employment at the end.

Making the grade
Most major retailers offer fast-track training and career development for graduates, and management training for sales assistants. Training on in-company management training schemes lasts around one to two years. They involve induction sessions, periods of in-store training, and usually periods at a college or company training centre.

Many stores sponsor staff for further learning and development opportunities such as management training courses or MBAs.

Some store managers move into district or regional management, looking after a group of stores. There may also be opportunities to move into support roles such as finance, human resources or buying. You may have to move to secure promotion.

Personal qualities
As a store manager, you should be a good team leader,with excellent organisational and people management skills. You must be willing to take on responsibility at an early stage in your career and you must be a quick thinker, not afraid to make decisions.

You would need excellent spoken and written communication skills and you must be committed to the needs of the customer. A smart appearance would normally be expected.

Looking ahead
The retail industry employs around three million people, or 11% of the UK’s workforce, and there are usually vacancies to be filled, although several retail chains disappeared in the recession of 2008-10.  Entry into management schemes can be competitive but promotion can come quite quickly if you show determination and flair. 
Some managers gain promotion to the board of their company, while others may choose to go into allied occupations such as marketing or management consultancy. You could even be head-hunted by a competitor.

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include advertising executive, banker, buyer, hotel manager, human resources manager, management consultant, marketing executive, public relations officer or travel agent.

Take-home pay
Pay scales vary enormously, depending on the size and scope of the organisation, and the amount of responsibility undertaken.  Trainee managers in multiple stores could start at anything from £20,000 to £26,000, rising with experience to £34,000 to £70,000. There would also be other benefits offered by larger employers, such as bonuses, commission, enhanced pension scheme, staff discount and good social facilities. Small retail organisations tend to pay less.

Store managers usually work at least 38 hours a week, including weekends. Retail management can be a demanding occupation and store opening hours are becoming ever longer (even 24 hours).  While you would not be expected to be present all the time, you would probably have to work some evenings and certainly some weekends.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are key days, as this is when most people do their shopping. Managers have to make sure that the store has management cover at all times.

Sources of information

Skillsmart, Sector Skills Council for Retail:
Retail Academy:
National Skills Academy for Retail:
British Shops and Stores Association:
Institute of Grocery Distribution:

British Retail Consortium:




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