BRC Event: Building your future workforce

As retail undergoes its reinvention, we will see high demand for skills that can help it advance. Yes, the headline news recently has been mass job losses at many of the leading supermarkets, department stores and fashion chains, but that is by no means the whole story.

Today, 100,000 people are employed in retail jobs that did not even exist five years ago and about 15% of sales are online, a figure which is certain to rise. What it means to work in retail is changing.

The BRC is keen to clarify the situation around retail jobs, and to help retail HR departments  reinvigorate retailing as a rewarding career option. A key challenge at this time of unprecedented change is having the right resources employed in the most productive ways in stores, web operations and across complex supply chain operations.

While automation is on the rise, so too is the demand for talented, skilled people to take the sector forward in its new omnichannel guise, says Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC.

“The big question is, how do we make sure that the jobs that exist in the industry alongside automation are higher paid and more productive, and provide opportunity for more people to progress?”

Building your Future Workforce

The BRC is running a Learning Live event called Building your Future Workforce next month to debate the best ways to equip retailers for the future – with new roles, new skills and ways of working.

It’s taking place on March 10 at 17:30 to 20:30, at America Square Conference Centre, London.

Chris Field, CEO of Fieldworks Marketing and Chairman of Retail Connections will chair the discussion.

He will joined by Carin Hammer-Blakebrough, Country HR Manager, IKEA UK & Ireland, and Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, BRC, who will share their broad knowledge of retail as an employer and the HR issues faced daily across the sector.

Better Jobs

The themes to be discussed echo the BRC’s Better Jobs campaign, which launched in 2018 envisaging a future in which there will be fewer but better jobs in the industry, as a result of factors including financial pressures and the impact of technology. The campaign was designed to promote retail as “more digital, more customer facing and with a more positive vision of what the future of the world of work in the industry looks like”.

Better Jobs Objectives:

  • Engagement: a workforce that is more motivated and more able to fulfil their potential.
  • Pay: a closing of the gap between retail and the UK average.
  • Productivity: increase in retail workforce productivity.

From digital-savvy data analysts to exemplary customer experience professionals, more needs to be done to attract the next wave of talent into this important industry.  The event will cover how to find, develop and retain the talent needed to deliver long-term business goals.

Technology is reshaping the day to day work of people employed in retail, says Chris Field (pictured left). “Various initiatives from the tech industry are providing the tools that staff and store managers will need to concentrate on serving customers by releasing them from general management tasks that can be increasingly automated.”

He adds: “The new generation of mobile POS vendors envisage a future where transactions and interactions can be managed on the fly, and no longer tied to a fixed POS. This then liberates both staff and customers to behave in more engaging ways.”

There are countless examples today of how in-store, supply chain and head office technologies are impacting retail, in the drive to make the industry become ‘smarter’ and less labour-intensive.  From AI enhancing supply chain forecasting, to store teams using web-enabled tools to offer ‘endless aisle’ shopping from a wider inventory, new ways of working are all around us.

Why attend this event?

In light of all this change, retailers need to rapidly restructure and re-skill their workforce to keep pace and maintain competitive advantage. Those that don’t may not survive, the BRC warns.

The Learning Live event is a rare opportunity to hear leading retailers and industry experts recommend ways to navigate the future, with a clear route forward. Real time audience polling and Q&As integrated into the evening panel discussion will ensure delegates get plenty of ideas, and answers to take away with them.

The BRC’s event Building your Future Workforce takes place on March 10, 2020 

17:30 – 20:30 | America Square Conference Centre, London EC3N 2LB


CEO of Fieldworks Marketing and Chairman of Retail Connections


Country HR Manager, IKEA UK & Ireland


Chief Executive, BRC

BRC Learning Live chris Field



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