Food, just like fashion, is a tough sector to get into unless you have worked your way through the system. Occasionally, there are opportunities to make a cross-sector move into a senior role, but that is rare.
As you know, the market is dominated by a handful of big names and these multimillion-pound national chains operate on a level of complexity that are not found elsewhere in retail. Stores, for instance, that turn over £1 million a week will be seeing 35,000 customers and handling no fewer than 30,000 lines.
What employers want, therefore, is candidates for managerial and supervisory posts with blue-chip experience. They want people who can not only guide a team, but who understand the importance of minimising stock-loss and know how to manage stock that is out of date.
That said, it isn't necessarily better paid than other sectors and the hours can be long. Salaries tends to be commensurate with turnover and number of staff. According to one recruitment expert, a manager could earn about £45,000 a year in a £30-million turnover store.
An added bonus is that many of the big employers have well-defined people cultures. They may offer flexible working and have robust training and development programmes in place to help you move up to the next level.
The future looks good. This is one of the few retail sectors that is benefiting from the spending power of the UK's fastest-growing consumer group: post-war baby boomers. Over the next 20 years research shows that this group will have risen 40% to 13.4 million, and the good news is that they spend healthily in food and grocery.
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