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How to be a trainee retail manager at a luxury department store

Charmain Gyles-Ferguson, senior recruitment consultant at Handle Recruitment’s fashion division, on how to get your first step on the luxury ladder as a trainee retail manager at a high-end department store.

Within retail management job titles vary wildly according to specific brands. A trainee retail manager in one store may be equivalent to a supervisor or brand specialist in another.

There are two main routes into the field and career paths vary between department stores. Often talent comes up internally. Good managers will have developed strategic succession plans within their stores and ambitious professionals who begin their career as a sales advisor can find themselves rising through the ranks.

Shining stars who are singled out as future managers consistently perform over and beyond expectations. They are inquisitive with an innate understanding of the industry.

Graduates can fast track into the profession via a management trainee scheme. Young professionals will not specifically have to have a degree in retail management or fashion; graduates from all disciplines are considered providing their personality fits.  

Once highlighted as talent ripe for development, trainee retail managers can expect to be offered extra responsibilities depending on their strengths. These may include stock analysis, trade reports, daily rotas, induction training or visual merchandising.

Those who have entered the field through a graduate scheme may move on to a more senior position on the shop floor or into a role within head office. Trainee retail managers who have risen through the sales advisor route may find it more difficult to transcend into head office, although some department stores may consider moving talent sideways.    

A trainee retail manager at a luxury department store can expect to earn between £25,000 and £30,000 basic, depending on size of department and turnover.

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