19 September, 2017


Whether you’re a parent wondering what it can offer your child, or a teacher looking for class material, let’s take a look at the retail world.

First things first. What is retail? Essentially, it’s a company selling its goods and merchandise from a location, physical or otherwise. Shops and stores probably spring to mind. These include department stores, supermarkets, local convenience shops and boutiques, selling one or (like M&S) multiple lines of products. The major retailers have traditionally been located on high streets, but in recent years many out-of-town shopping parks have sprung up. There are other venues too; for example, you’ll find an M&S at many motorway service stations.

Then there are other ‘fixed’ retail locations, such as showrooms – think cars or even bathrooms and kitchens – and market stalls. Even a small kiosk outside a railway station selling newspapers counts as ‘retail’.

But different people like to buy things in different ways. Catalogue shopping is still popular especially among the older generation. But what has transformed shopping more than anything else? You’ve guessed it, the internet. Millions of us now shop online for the choice and convenience. The biggest and most successful retailers make use of multiple shopping channels. We certainly have at M&S: our online offering M&S.com now has 7 million registered users and weekly visitors number around 6.1 million.

We all need to shop and, taking into account the various channels, the retail industry generates billions of pounds every year and employs millions of people. Take M&S. Today, we operate in 59 territories and employ over 83,000 people who, in one role or another, serve over 33 million customers.

M&S can trace its roots back to 1884 and we will always be an icon of the high street. Many people work in our stores because they love meeting customers face to face, inspiring them with their product choices and creating a great shopping experience. But it’s not for everyone, we know that. However, the good news is that, like a lot of retailers, we offer a wide range of careers beyond the shop floor.

So what exactly is on offer? That depends on the retailer, its size and the products it sells. For example, being a big retailer M&S has many support departments such as HR, Buying and Marketing, which you obviously wouldn’t find in a small retail outlet. We specialise in food, clothing and homeware products, so we have teams that focus on these product lines.

Every retailer is different and we can only speak for ourselves. But the fact is, we take on lots of people, from different backgrounds, for a huge array of roles, either front of house or behind the scenes, all of which are essential for delivering for our customers.

Our stores are still the face of M&S and we need everyone from Customer Assistants to Section Managers and Commercial Managers. But we’re an online retailer, so we hire technology-minded people that push us to stay ahead of the competition.

Then there are the Designers with a creative eye for fashion… Buyers who hunt down the trendiest products around… Merchandisers who monitor sales and trends… Marketers who make the M&S brand stand out… Logistics professionals who run our supply chain … HR specialists who find and develop great people… shrewd business brains who look after our Property estate. We have true foodies working here too, in our Food Buying, Technology or Product Development teams. And ever wondered how a big retailer makes sure its shelves are always stocked or something you ordered online arrives on your doorstep? That’s down to people working in Distribution.

In short, retail offers a host of opportunities – and with the industry being so fast paced and ever evolving, that isn’t about to change.

Inside M&S