What is behind the success of retailers’ merchandising? We spoke with the Bluestones One Retail Merchandising team, Gary White, Gary Lowe and Ashley Jewitt, about attracting the right talent to the teams who work day and night to ensure the country’s shops are ready and why it is an exciting career.
What are the current challenges affecting the attraction of retail merchandisers?
There are two main challenges in attracting new members to our retail merchandising teams:
1. Perception – there is a misconception outside of the industry that the workforce is transient, the role has little longevity or development opportunities and is a ‘stop-gap’ for some.
2. Competition – there are a number of companies within an industry that is quite niche and because of this competition for the best merchandisers can be quite fierce.
What can be done to combat these challenges?
We find the best way to attract and retain the best teams is through educating our applicants and existing teams on the scale and consistent nature of our activity. We work with a wide range of retailers so always have activity for our teams, keeping them consistently busy.
We offer opportunities to work within roles and projects that they haven’t been a part of previously as part of their development plan and grade each team member in order for them to understand how they are progressing and areas for development. This allows them to see a clear path for progression and a further incentive to improve themselves and their potential earnings.
Every single member of our senior management team has worked out in the field as a merchandiser, so there are clear opportunities for progression within the business. We also work extremely hard to engage with our teams on a personal and professional level so that we have that rapport and they are happy, we can ensure that they are enjoying their roles.
What is the profile of the ideal retail merchandiser?
We don’t necessarily look for experience, our focus is on displaying the right attitudes and behaviours as we can train them to become good merchandisers. Key for us is work ethic, customer service, timekeeping and flexibility. If they exhibit these sorts of behaviours then we are keen to work with them to develop their skills. There is a lot of time away from home as well so it’s key that they understand this before they start the application process.
What opportunities are there for new talent to get into the industry?
We (and most of our competitors) are recruiting for large periods of the year, this is in order to cope with the ever-changing demands of the retail industry, it’s a fast paced environment, where different sectors have different demands and different periods of the year where they will be busy. E.g. DIY may not be busy at the same time as Grocery and vice versa. We are finding more and more that we are getting approached by people from outside of the industry that want to try something different or they’ve been working in retail stores and seen our teams on site and chatted to them and like the sound of what we have to offer. There are always opportunities within the industry due to the ever-changing face of retail.
Why is it an exciting career?
As a career, it isn’t for everyone but the positives that we hear from our teams are: constantly different, meeting new people, building relationships with team members and customers, travelling and fun!
Our teams get to work in a variety of different sectors, delivering different types of projects throughout the year in different locations. They say “variety is the spice of life” and there’s certainly plenty of variety in what we do! The camaraderie built between the teams, other contractors on site and our customers is second to none, making it a fun environment for everyone.