Careers in Retail

The advantages of making a career in retail

Our Director of Grocery Retail Recruitment, Nikki Murran, featured in the latest edition of ShelfLife Magazine to discuss the numerous advantages of making a career in retail. Highlighting that with limitless opportunities for progression, and countless new things to learn, a career in retail is much more than just ‘a job in a shop’. 

Retail jobs can get bad press and often do. It is an industry filled with hard-working employees, some on minimum wage, dealing in overwhelmingly busy stores and with an unpredictable public. However, this past month I have been asking retailers, and past retailers who now work on my team – what do you love about the industry? It’s been inspiring hearing about their stories and their passion for the industry. So it prompted me to compile this list for anyone thinking of turning their part-time retail job into a full-scale career. Or indeed any store owners looking to convince their staff to take that leap with them.

Career kickstart

There are few other industries that will allow you to join with no experience, no further education and measure you solely on your ability and work ethic. Nearly every retailer, at every level I speak to, started their retail career during school, they enjoyed it, did well, and progressed. Not through their exam results or who they knew. Rather, based on how well they worked. Just because you are not a straight-A student does not mean you won’t be a straight-A retailer!

Learning life-long skills

Dealing with customer complaints, handling money, learning about food safety or manual handling skills – regardless of your role in retail you will learn so many skills which will stand to you in every aspect of your life!


Nothing brings people together more than working alongside each other toward a common goal. In every store in the country, you will find passionate, hard-working, dedicated teams of people. Usually, people who are warm, caring and outgoing, as this goes hand in hand with dealing with customers successfully, day after day and indeed year after year. In every store I have ever worked in, I have been overwhelmed by the talent and dedication of the teams I have worked alongside. I met so many people from outside my usual social circle, people from all walks of life, all nationalities, and all age ranges. It was always one of the best parts about working in retail as I got to understand so many different cultures and meet and build friendships with such a diverse group of fabulous people.

The customers

To be fair, this can sometimes be the biggest challenge, but often, it is one of the biggest rewards. I started my retail career in a local convenience store, in a quiet area, with an aging population. The boss said to me on my first day – “remember, for some of these customers you may be the only person they speak with today.” That stuck with me for the next decade while I worked in retail and I gained so much from spending an extra moment or two with each customer who was looking for a connection. Not only did it help me to develop empathy but It brought me so much joy, laughter, and genuine pleasure.

Building confidence

Retail is the ultimate confidence builder. Working in retail gives you so many opportunities to excel in various tasks. From merchandising a section in the store, to helping a customer, achieving a sales target or just knowing you have done a solid day’s work. People who have spent time in retail build a level of confidence that is difficult to replicate!

Something for everyone

The retail industry really does have something for everyone! Do you like physical work? Why not try out a Pack Out Manager job? Great with numbers? Stock control manager! Do you love people? In store HR Manager might be for you. A true Foodie? Fresh food manager it is! Do you love chatting with new people? Checkout supervisor may be your calling! Or perhaps you love doing a little of everything? Convenience management is for you so! There are endless possibilities, and most retailers will support their staff to find the right fit for them. Most managers work their way through many departments before they progress to store manager. If you are not sure what’s right for you, find a good recruitment agency who will help you pinpoint your retail talents! (ahem)


Many of the stores throughout Ireland are deeply embedded in their community. They often support local charities, sponsor the local GAA team, and provide spot prizes for the local school’s annual raffle. It’s a wonderful feeling being involved in your community and being part of your local retail team is a sure-fire way to make that happen!

Work-Life Balance

Retail employment can get a bad name when it comes to work life balance. But, in the past number of years, most retailers have reduced their contracted hours and many others offer much more flexibility. Because stores open longer than the usual 9-5 most retailers are finding that they can navigate their personal life, be it childcare or sports, with just a little flexibility from their employer. Many retailers work morning shifts and are home in time for training, whilst others drop the kids to school in plenty of time to make the start of their shift. Retail can be whatever you make it and with so many retail employers open to flexibility it really is a great fit for many!


Regardless of how long you have worked in retail, for those who ask they will nearly always be given the opportunity for growth and ownership. Grocery stores work best when the teams running them each take responsibility for their own section, area, department or just the flower stand! You don’t need to wait – as soon as you feel ready you can be sure any request for more will be met with enthusiasm and support from your manager!

Fabulous Irish product

You only have to look around any of the grocery stores here to see how most embrace beautiful local Irish products and help small businesses bring them to wider markets. For those with a passion for food, working in this space gives a lovely opportunity to work with some amazing brands and fabulous products.

Limitless progression

You can start your retail career as a sales assistant or trainee and steadily climb the ranks to Store Manager, Regional Manager, or Fresh Food Area Manager to name but a few. In fact, most of the senior retailers in the country started as Sales Assistants. Many retailers will help you through college, others offer outstanding training programs, in everything from HR to Food safety, while others still will offer apprenticeships in Butchery and Baking. The sky really is the limit and for those willing to work hard and learn your career path, really is in your hands!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email

You can view all of our live jobs here

The importance of training and investing in staff

The importance of training and investing in staff

Our Managing Director, Shane McLave, featured in the latest edition of Drinks Industry Ireland magazine discussing the importance of investing in staff. Highlighting that while offering an extensive package is crucial for the success of your business, providing training is equally important in order to retain your employees.

It really doesn’t matter how fantastic a Bar, Restaurant or Hotel you have, and it doesn’t matter how many millions you invest in cutting edge design, out of this world locations, great menus, and cocktails, if you neglect to invest in your team and empower them to excel as the finest in their field, then everything else becomes inconsequential.

I’ve been involved with the hospitality industry since the age of 16, starting my journey in kitchens as a Kitchen Porter and progressing to the role of Head Chef. Eventually, I transitioned into the field of recruitment, where I acquired extensive insights into various facets of the industry. This journey was fueled by my experience working with renowned brands nationwide and connecting great people with outstanding companies.

In recent years, as unemployment rates have reached historic lows, the landscape of job offers has significantly expanded when it comes to potential employers vying for candidates. We’ve witnessed a notable shift where individuals are no longer solely driven by the highest salary but are instead making decisions based on the overall package offered. This package now includes an array of benefits, such as health insurance, additional annual leave, mental health days, extended sick leave, pension plans, car allowances, tax-saving travel options, signing bonuses, loyalty rewards, flexible work hours, remote and hybrid work arrangements, gym memberships, complimentary meals, provided uniforms, social club memberships, accommodation assistance or allowances, and job-sharing options, among others. Despite this myriad of enticing perks, one of the most frequently asked questions I encounter from candidates is centered around the training opportunities and prospects for career advancement. In summary, while offering an extensive package is crucial for the success of your hospitality business, providing top-notch training is equally essential and holds significant importance for the individuals you bring on board.

A big part of what we do in Excel Recruitment revolves around supporting and promoting the hospitality industry and one of the many ways we do this is through sponsoring and judging awards. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to embark on an incredible journey across Ireland, exploring a diverse range of Bars, Hotels, Spas, and Restaurants. After meticulously visiting and thoroughly evaluating each property, our panel of judges convenes to meticulously review every entry, scrutinising the scores and deliberating extensively to determine the overall winners. Our panel of judges comprises an extensive spectrum of industry experts, encompassing lecturers from leading Hospitality Colleges, seasoned Hotel General Managers, accomplished Recruiters, seasoned Professional Food Critics, and a cadre of industry professionals. Some of these individuals boast a lifetime of experience in managing some of the most renowned establishments in Ireland.

Throughout my years of judging various establishments, I’ve encountered quite a diverse range of experiences. Among them, there have been numerous winners, but what stands out is the element of surprise. There have been instances where I entered with certain expectations, only to have my opinions completely transformed. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that the single most influential factor in shaping my judgment has consistently been the staff I encountered and interacted with.

I’ve visited opulent five-star hotels and high-end bars where the surroundings were truly breath-taking, yet the service provided was nothing short of disappointing, resulting in an overall unpleasant experience. Conversely, I’ve ventured into places that were initially unfamiliar or appeared rather average, only to be blown away by the level of service and the engaging personalities of those who interacted with me. In such cases, I had no option but to bestow upon them the highest possible ratings.

One of my favourite places that I discovered during my judging duties, has now become my go to destination during my leisure time. My initial interaction was memorable for all the wrong reasons – a waiter inadvertently spilling my drink on my dinner, which subsequently fell onto me. However, it was the remarkable handling of this situation that truly impressed me.

We all understand that things can go smoothly when all is well, but the real measure of success lies in how challenges are navigated and turned around. In essence, no matter how many millions you invest in a venue, it pales in comparison if the staff aren’t genuinely content in their roles and equipped to skilfully manage every circumstance. True excellence stems from the people who make it happen.

If you’re looking for hospitality training, you can visit our sister company websites or for more information.

You can check out this feature in the Drinks Industry Ireland magazine here