Excel Recruitment MD, Barry Whelan and Head of Grocery Retail Recruitment Nikki Murran answered some questions for a March feature in Shelflife Magazine. Here they discussed how Recruitment Agencies can help you and absolve all hardship when it come to a new hire. Statistics from the most recent Retail Sector Survey show the sector has the propensity to be worth €46 billion by 2020. Currently, our industry employs 270,000 people nationwide, with the potential to grow to 310,000 by 2020.

Recruitment the right way

Any business, no matter what sector it operates in, is only as good as its people – and retail is absolutely no different in this respect. But what do you do when you need to fill a position fast and already have a million and one back-office tasks to complete on your to-do list? Time to outsource your dilemma to the professionals, writes Orla Keeling

During the recession, Ireland’s retail value dropped dramatically. Even with the recovery and the growth in the economy since the crash, 2015 figures showed that the total value of Irish retail sales remained at 14% below the peak levels. Retail employment is dependent on economic growth and an increase in consumer spending.

Over the years, retail employment figures have declined by over 45,000. Despite this, the downturn didn’t affect the retail sector dramatically as it remained as Ireland’s largest industry and largest employer at that time (Source: Retail Ireland – ‘Retail in depth’).

Unfortunately the cost of doing business has escalated.  Rent, insurance, utilities and local services have increased. This increased costs for retail businesses without the necessary profits and growth in consumer spending. The result was that this added significant pressure to retailers.

But recent figures show the consumer economy is growing again. Ireland’s inflation rate is now steady at 0.1%* (as of January 2016). This is a huge benefit to the industry, and more retail opportunities are expected in the near future. However this adds even more pressure to retailers to compete within the marketplace *(Source: Trading Economics).

With the rise in the consumer economy and spending, retailers are once again recruiting. The recruitment process can be very stressful and take up a huge amount of the retailer’s time. The time they spend on increasing store profit margins and customer service is shortened and their priorities have shifted to recruitment. But there is an easy solution: recruitment agencies.

What do recruitment agencies do and how does it help the retailers?

Recruitment agencies put the retail organisations in control of their recruitment aims and connect them with the right candidates without the hassle and stress of the recruitment process.

A recruitment agency will take care of everything. This includes services such as advertising, checking CVs and conducting the initial interviews.

The agencies research the organisations and find out who and what works best for them. Knowing what works best for the retailers and how their business is run, gives the recruitment agency the knowledge of the necessary personality and skills for the ideal employee. This is also used to maximise the potential of future employees.

Pressure and stress on retailers is reduced, as the best CVs land on their desks without all of the stress, and having to deal with the recruitment process and its tasks. (Source: Excel Recruitment).

Maximising retailers’ energy and time while reducing stress, is of huge benefit to the organisations. But this is just one of the many benefits of the service. Retailers can focus on their stores and improving their profits as the economy improves, instead of slowing productivity and increasing stress levels through recruiting employees.

Only certain recruitment agencies specialise in retail. Many large retailers, as well as smaller independents and symbol group retailers avail of their services.

On average, a retail enterprise in Dublin employs 13 people. This figure is significantly lower in other areas in the country as the midlands employs on average, four to five people, the west employs five and the south-west employs six (Source: Retail Ireland – Strategy for Retail 2014-2016).

Employment potential in Ireland’s retail sector

Retail Ireland’s Strategy for Retail 2014-2016 states: “On the basis of annual growth in retail sales of 3-4% until 2020, the Irish retail sector has the potential to reach €46 billion in value terms. Such growth would lead to total employment in the retail sector of over 310,000 people – an increase of almost 40,000 on the current number.”
This potential growth in both employment and value terms is a huge opportunity for not only the Irish economy but also for recruitment agencies. With the rise in employment numbers in retail, more and more retailers will turn to these companies and avail of their recruitment services.

Q & A with…

Barry Whelan and Nikki Murran, Excel Recruitment

From the employer’s perspective, how do you ensure that you find the best candidate(s) to fulfil a particular role?

Excel Recruitment is ‘the retail recruitment company’. Our team of consultants all come from strong retail careers. We believe that the ability to find great people for our clients comes from our knowledge of the market, the people in it, the businesses we recruit for and fundamentally the ability to understand each role and each client intimately. We are 13 years in business recruiting for retail in Ireland. We’re fortunate enough to recruit for some of the best Irish and International retailers in the world, operating here in Ireland, from large corporations to wonderful independents. We have a database of over 50,000 candidates. This represents a fifth of the entire retail employment market in Ireland. We have built up this database over 13 years and live on it.

Why should a candidate enlist your services to help find a new role?

Recruitment consultancy is a complex process and as past retailers, we realise that both our clients and candidates are our company’s customers. We need to find the best candidates in the market. We need to understand their ‘reason for leaving’ their current employer or find them the right role if they are job seeking, matching them with the best position and company possible. In order to do this firstly we need to be the expert.


Our policy of hiring only retailers and training them rigorously in recruitment means we know retail. We know the businesses our candidates are coming from, the companies they work for, along with the businesses they want to work for.

We offer candidates a broad overview of the industry and a variety of options for their careers. We find candidates come to us daily for guidance with their options.

Placing a candidate is not just a sale to us. We understand that moving jobs and job seeking can be very stressful. A period of unhappiness in work or unemployment can be a very difficult time in a person’s life and we understand that your job is one of the most important things in your life.

What, in your opinion, makes the expertise of your team stand out from rivals?

What sets us apart from other recruitment companies is our in-depth knowledge of the retail industry. Not only does founder and MD, Barry Whelan, have extensive experience in retail management, having started his career with the Shopping Basket convenience store chain and worked for Quinnsworth and Dunnes Stores as a manager, but combined, our team has over 50 years’ experience in retail with each of our consultants having worked for a variety of retailers.

Recruitment, like retail, is a people business. To have the best employees, you need to recruit the best people. We use state of the art behaviour profiling from TTI Success Insights coupled with SHL Aptitude testing for verbal reasoning.

We invest in our people. Our training is unique and represents best practice in the market. It ensures trainees are trained fully and consistently. As trainees qualify from the company training programme, we invest in external training. This investment means staff feel (and are) valued. They are part of the strategic plan for Excel’s future.

All our recruiters are past retailers. (They would never call themselves ex-retailers as they really believe it’s something that’s in your blood). However not all of our recruiters have worked with all of our clients. We regularly send consultants out to our clients for top-up, hands on, retail training. This ensures our team have an in-depth understanding of all of the clients we work with and are up-to-date on all the new changes, policies, and trends in the retail world.

Consistency ensures success and only professional processes ensure consistency. We have invested heavily in processes in our business. This has culminated in our 30-page recruitment consultant’s manual entitled ‘Excel: 40 steps to recruiting’. This manual gives our consultants the knowledge when working, to keep a professional process in place for every step of the recruitment process.



“I have three different Centra stores with many different challenges facing my team. With the help of Barry and his team in Excel, throughout the years I have chosen the right candidates to suit my needs. Excel brings me high calibre candidates capable of doing the job. Barry and his team understand my expectations and they deliver every time. Selecting the right people for the job is crucial in getting your business right. I wouldn’t use anyone else for selecting my team.” Breda Cahill – Owner, Cahill’s Centra

“I have dealt with Excel Recruitment for a number of years and time after time they always come up with the exact person I am looking for. When you speak to Barry and the Excel team, they listen to every word that you say. The overall service I have received from Excel is the best yet.” Edmund Dick – Owner, Dick’s SuperValu


“Barry found me a job with Steven Nally’s SuperValu Group. I’m grateful for the fact that Barry thought of me for the role and put me forward for it. I am really enjoying the job and I am looking forward to the future; I really feel it’s been a great move for me.’’ Michael Hickey – Bakery area manager, Nally’s SuperValu Group

Read more: https://www.shelflife.ie/recruitment-the-right-way/#ixzz8YDDekAz6