Most graduates choosing a retail career will be looking at general management roles, whether managing a department, a store or several outlets as an area manager. The work involves a mixture of responsibilities that cover people (managing staff, dealing with customers), premises (ensuring stores meet company and legislative standards) and profits (managing business performance).
Store managers oversee the running of a retail outlet to ensure excellent customer service and the efficient sale of goods to maximise profits. Depending on the size of outlet and the level of turnover, the pace of work can be very pressurised on the ‘floor’ during opening hours and may require much administrative work behind the scenes. The manager’s remit is varied. It includes the day-to-day running of a store to ensure that sales targets set by group or area managers are achieved while keeping operating costs within budget.
In large stores, there may be a team of several managers, each responsible for their own department, working under a general manager. Retail managers in smaller outlets (which are often owner-managed) can expect to have a more ‘hands on’ approach and may be responsible for all functions including buying, finance, marketing, sales, HR and IT. Managers of pubs will have similar responsibilities to the retail store manager, as will operations managers working with call centres to supply retail goods from online, telephone and TV selling.
The job of the retail area manager is to maximise the sales and profitability of retail outlets across groups, typically within symbols, multiples or the licensed trade. They are responsible for a number of outlets in a specific geographic area, working closely with individual managers to plan, coordinate, maintain and develop each outlet’s commercial performance.
Area managers are responsible for monitoring the business performance of outlets and setting and achieving profit targets; and also for motivating and coaching local managers towards meeting these goals.