Grocery Retail Recruitment Q&A

Grocery Retail Recruitment Q&A

Our Director of Grocery Retail, Nikki Murran, featured in a recent edition of ShelfLife magazine’s Recruitment Q&A to answer some of the most prevalent questions within the grocery retail sector.

Q: In today’s competitive marketplace, retailers are finding it difficult to secure experienced staff. What would you say are the main factors behind this and how significant is this issue currently within Ireland’s grocery industry?

A: There is any number of factors contributing to the staffing crisis, but I feel the most obvious issues are as follows:

Supply has decreased: We started the pandemic from a place of near perfect unemployment but the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) allowed candidates to opt out of the workforce for an extended period of time. This caused a proportion of the retail sector to return home to other European countries during the pandemic and the last two years has seen a number of candidates leave the retail industry to pursue roles in other sectors.
Demand has increased: 2020 saw an additional €2 billion in grocery sales and still, to date, we are seeing an additional €200 per household per quarter being spent in the grocery sector. The DIY retail trade has also seen a substantial increase in many stores with no slowdown in sight and reports of pent-up demand still in play from 2020/21.

Q: How can your knowledge and experience within the FMCG industry help retailers to circumvent the current recruitment challenges?

A: Excel Recruitment has been recruiting for and supporting the Irish retail sector for the past 20 years. When it comes to retail recruitment, no other company has more experience in the Irish market. We are a team of retailers, recruiting for retailers. With over 85% of our business coming from repeat customers, we know we’re providing an excellent service. We take the time to understand the needs of each store by thoroughly screening the candidates from our extensive database and our team also provides honest feedback to clients and candidates throughout the recruiting process to ensure the perfect match for the role.

Q: What advice would you give retailers to ensure their employment packages stand out from competitors and can attract the best talent available?

A: Some of the key factors to take into account are as follows:
Tailor each package depending on the role / candidate
This is where we’ve seen the best successes in the market. It’s important to understand what each potential candidate is looking for in their next career move. Time and again, clients are tempted to offer more money to candidates. However, by understanding a candidate’s motivations – you may find that additional annual leave, healthcare discounts or reduced hours are more likely to secure your preferred hire.

Think outside the box
Small benefits like discounts on local gyms, canteen discounts, extra days of annual leave for birthdays, free tea, coffee and newspapers go a lot further than you may think! These small inexpensive perks are a great way to attract candidates. Be sure to list all your perks – no matter how small and include them with every job that you are looking to hire for.

Profit share
With basic salaries going up, this can be an ideal option by putting in place bonuses linked to a store’s profitability. You can offer outstanding on-target earnings without impacting your store’s wage budget.

Q: From the job candidate’s perspective, how will you help them to prepare for their best interview performance?

A: We tailor our candidate preparation depending on each individual, and the role that they are going for. By getting to know each candidate and by understanding their past experience/future ambitions, we’re positioning ourselves to support the candidate through each step of the hiring process. This can be anything from helping them to phrase answers, giving them the company background, suggesting the best stores for them to visit beforehand or teaching them how to conduct a virtual interview. And sometimes, we’re just simply a sounding board for a candidate to voice their concerns.

Q: It has become increasingly common for employers to hold multiple interviews. What specific advice would you give candidates when embarking on the second or third round of interviews?

A: I would recommend to clients to get all decision makers to sit in on the first interview so that you can conduct a thorough first round. This allows us to move at a faster pace in this overheated market and leaves no need for subsequent rounds. However, if you are a candidate who is called back for additional rounds:

  • Treat it like the first round! You may be meeting a new interviewer – and it is imperative you come across as well prepared, professional, interested and engaged as you did in the first round.
  • Don’t worry about repeating information from the first round – often the previous interviewer is anxious for the new interviewer to hear what you had to say.
  • Prepare and recap on your preparation for round one. Think about any questions you would like to have asked and prepare answers for any questions you felt you underperformed on during the previous rounds.
  • They liked you in round one, so relax, be yourself and enjoy!

Q: As we tentatively emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, do you believe that staff shortages will significantly lessen in the next 12 months?

A: No, looking forward, I can’t see any factors in play that will dramatically increase supply or decrease demand so it’s hard to see how these shortages will cease in the near future. Having said that, I do believe there are still great people available in the retail industry, if you know where to look. It’s essential to have a strong recruitment partner now more than ever to recruit talent for your business, and we will continue to help our clients and candidates in whatever way we can.

You can check out all our live retail jobs here. For more information you can contact Nikki on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com.

 

Retail staff

Ireland’s Retail Sector on the Verge of Severe Staffing Crisis

The trajectory of job postings for the retail sector is on a consistent upward trend, having more than doubled from 1,578 in February 2021 to 4,258 in February 2022[1]. Excel Recruitment, the leading retail recruitment specialists in Ireland, is warning that the retail sector could be the next industry to face a serious and damaging staffing crisis, something akin to that currently being suffered in the hospitality sector. Excel Recruitment is advising retail employers throughout the country about the necessary steps they can take to mitigate this shortage and make their industry a more attractive prospect for workers.

Aislinn Lea, Director of Fashion and Non-Food at Excel Recruitment commented,

“The industry data paints a stark picture – between 2019 and 2021, the number of retail job seekers per retail job vacancy had been increasing year on year. However, since then it has dipped significantly and in February 2022 there were 39 job seekers per job, down from 78 job seekers per job in February 2021. What’s more, the number of employers with active retail job vacancies has now nearly tripled in the 12 months to February 2022 when it stood at 1,360 employers – up from 488 employers in February 2021[1].

Over the course of the pandemic, many people were out of work and/or on reduced hours – they had more time on their hands to really look at their careers, their lives, and what they want from both. As a result, we’ve seen thousands of workers change careers, upskill in their current industry, and/or just make the decision to strive for a better work-life balance.

That dynamic, combined with the fact that the industry has also missed out on approximately two years of new candidate intakes – due to workers either leaving the sector during Covid because of lockdowns and working restrictions, or indeed leaving the country – has left supply as a major issue, which continues to deteriorate.”

Ms. Lea commented,

“Retailers are facing an uphill battle, but we have identified a number of actions that employers can consider to allow them to attract the talent needed.

Many employers we speak with are disheartened because they say significantly boosting salaries to attract and retain workers is just not feasible now. However, money is not the only solution to the problem. Daily, I tell people that there are more ways to build the team you want and need in your business than by basing it on money alone.

Obviously, wages must be attractive to some degree – people need to be able to maintain a good standard of living from the remuneration they receive in the sector and salaries need to be competitive. But where we are seeing the real changes is in benefits, employer flexibility, and better working conditions.”

Addressing Employee Benefits

Excel Recruitment has outlined several key considerations for incentivising roles within the retail sector.

Ms. Lea commented,

“Working hours are a huge consideration for people. While working from home simply does not work in most cases; as an employer, you could explore how you might rejig the working week. Can you offer some weekend and evening flexibility in the structure? Candidates are looking for more flexibility so that they can plan their home lives accordingly. The introduction of every second weekend on/off is proving to be very popular amongst some of our retail partners.

Annual leave is another area where improvements can be made. We appreciate that the statutory entitlement is 20 days plus bank holidays. However, keeping in tune with trends regarding work-life balance and the fact that retail requires more flexibility, the need to offer more than 20 days is a must in retail management. We’re seeing a shift to 23-25 days’ holidays.”

The recruitment experts note that while pension schemes have long been an important benefit to employees, they are not necessarily often provided by employers and are an area where more businesses could review their policy and introduce attractive proposals for employees.

Ms. Lea commented,

“In addition, we are finding that incentives and benefits that focus on employee wellbeing, such as Employee Assistance Programmes are increasingly attractive – where staff are supported with free counselling services for work-related or personal problems.

Bonus schemes have become a benefit that not many managers take seriously. To work well, management needs to ensure bonuses are based on performance and sales but it is also extremely important to be more specific in outlining bonus details and conditions.

Softer incentives including referral schemes for new staff and/or loyalty bonuses, brand perks and discounts, and more personalised offerings such as uniform allowances, the Bike to Work scheme, birthdays off, gym memberships, and lunch allowances are becoming more common. Employer reward schemes and in-house awards that celebrate conscientious staff members also create engagement and can help increase staff motivation and morale.

While there are many pathways open to employers regarding more diverse packages for employee benefits, Excel Recruitment says that employers must be active in advertising these to candidates.

Ms. Lea concluded,

“Creating these incentives is one element, but the next important step is to include these benefits and perks in any company vacancies or job advertisements so that potential employees can consider them alongside the job role. Candidates are looking for more, but it’s not just about money – the focus is increasingly about enjoying one’s career while having time to enjoy your life outside of work too.”

[1] Indeed Hiring insights – Retail category in Ireland

You can contact Aislinn for more information at aislinn@excelrecruitment.com. Please click here to search for all of our live retail roles.

Grocery Retail Jobs

Grocery Retail Salary Outlook 2022

Key Trends in the Grocery Retail Industry

Over the last 12 months, we have yet again seen how robust and adaptive the Irish grocery retail sector really is. Not only have we witnessed the growth in sales across the industry as a whole, but we’ve also watched as this incredible industry, and the people in it, spectacularly met the ever-changing challenges that 2021 brought!

In the second half of the year, Retailers faced peaks in demand for top talent in all areas of the grocery sector. The re-opening of the non-food and hospitality sectors carried further challenges as retailers encountered staff shortages in many of their entry level roles.

This, coupled with an exodus of many staff to their home countries saw pressure across many stores to keep their staffing levels at a rate that could match their store needs.

The areas most impacted are mainly in fresh foods with delicatessens, bakeries, and butchers. The salary increases across 2021 reflect this.

We have also seen an increase in the entry level management roles since the rise in the minimum wage in 2020 along with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment which forced retailers to up the entry-level hourly rates in many circumstances.

This has caused a knock-on effect for many of the Supervisor and Trainee Manager salaries in the last 12 months.

What Are Employers Doing?

Across the industry, employers are still seeking ways to grow, retain and attract top talent. Similar to previous years, employers are still working hard and trying to think ‘outside the box’ to keep talented staff.

Furthermore, there is a particular focus on work-life balance, culture, and progression. Another important aspect that employers should place a strong focus on is keeping his/her staff safe whilst in the workplace.

Much like last year, 2022 looks set to be a challenging but exciting time for the Irish grocery retail. Despite a testing 2021 and facing into a somewhat uncertain 2022, retailers remain as passionate and as energetic about the industry as ever.

What’s Next?

If you wish to discuss the findings of this guide or how we can assist with your recruitment needs, please feel free to contact us at www.excelrecruitment.com.

Alternatively, you can call us on 01 814 8747 or email Nikki, our Director of Grocery Retail at nikki@excelrecruitment.com.

We have compiled this guide which is supported by data from the best retail managers across the country. This guide is designed to give our clients a guide to the current market prices for the various roles within the Irish grocery market.

If you would like more information on the Grocery Retail Salary Outlook for 2022, please click here for the Grocery Retail Salary Guide 2022.

retail reopenings, social distancing, retail

Retail’s Return: The reality of retail in a socially distanced world?

 

To state the obvious, the past couple of months have been strenuous for retail to say the least. It has also been hugely heartening to see the industry, retailers-suppliers-staff and so many more, pull together in putting collective thinking caps on to assist vulnerable customers meet their basic needs as well as getting creative to find new and exciting ways to reach and engage with customers.

Hypothetically speaking

What also has to be commended is the resilience, patience and positivity of our grocery retailers and pharmacies in the face of customers’ fears, fraying frustrations and disregard (whether naïve or intentional) for social distancing guidelines. The Government have released their own “Return to work safely” but at 29 pages, how much of it can actually work in real life?

Retailers in all areas have two big questions at the forefront of their minds, a) how to recoup some of the losses from the last few weeks of physical stores being closed and b) how to keep staff and customers safe while doing it?

What we do know is the measures put in place and valiantly maintained by grocery retailers and pharmacies over the last few weeks will now be the standard. But how much further will that go as retailers, and society, move from the hypothetical to the reality of retail in a socially distanced world?

But how will it actually work?

It’s a proven psychological quirk of human beings that we remember those who break rules or social standards and not those that follow them. As a retailer, suddenly everything about your physical store; the store entrance, the width of aisles, the space near checkouts, the density of people in-store are going to come under intense scrutiny. Is tape on the floors, reduced shopping baskets available and plexiglass screens the extent of what’s needed or only the start? Globally, some interesting solutions are being proposed, with Apple and Best Buy trialling appointment bookings for in-store services while IKEA has enabled virtual queuing and remote kitchen planning sessions. While these obviously use more resources in terms of infrastruture and roll-out, it does remove the stress of retail staff being responsible for enforcing physical distancing in store and have the added benefit of a more personalised, premium service.

Communication breakdowns?

Whatever way shops decide to implement the guidance, communicating the new shopping etiquette to ensure adherence without alienating or frightening customers is going to be critical. In-store, again as has already been proven in the grocery sector, non-verbal/ non-direct communication is equally important – from choice of music to tannoy messages to the type and amount of signage. Messaging needs to be transparent and frequent to reinforce rules to customers. Digital communication has proven critical over the last few weeks as social media has been in many cases the only ‘socialness’ people have. It will continue to be crucial as brands strive to extend their influence in the customer journey beyond just the basics and return the idea of shopping to a pleasure activity, even with social distancing in place.

Retail is and will remain a people-centred business and now more than ever it will be crucial that retailers of all sizes put the needs of people, customers and colleagues at the heart of what you do.

€1.25m E-commerce fund for retailers open for applications

A new scheme meant to help Irish SMEs and retailers grow their e-commerce capabilities has opened for applications. The scheme, which is run by Enterprise Ireland, will allocate €1.25 million in funding to facilitate the acceleration of online retailer’s digital and e-commerce capabilities.

The scheme will see grants of between €10,000 and €25,000 awarded on a match fund basis with the specific purpose of supporting retailers to enhancing their online sales capabilities, ensuring they are better equipped to deal with increasing competition from overseas and help scale their businesses in international markets.

“Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting Irish companies to realise their global ambition by providing the mentoring and financial support necessary to scale in international markets,” said Stephen Hughes, head of consumer, Enterprise Ireland.

“Ireland’s retail sector is a primary contributor to our economy, both nationally and at a regional level but it is under significant pressure, particularly from international competitors with the digital means to extend their reach to Irish consumers. By delivering the Online Retail Scheme, we intend to support Irish retailers to innovate and through innovation, to increase their competitiveness and enhance their online presence.”

“While no single intervention will solve the challenge posed by the emergence of digital commerce in recent years to traditional bricks and mortar retailers, today’s announcement marks a significant step forward by Government in firstly acknowledging the challenge faced by the Irish retail sector and secondly by beginning to put in place supports for Ireland’s largest private sector employer,” said Thomas Burke, director at Retail Ireland, the IBEC group which represents the retail industry.

The Online Retail Scheme is open to applications from retail SMEs with 20-249 employees across the island of Ireland, and who have a retail outlet. Closing date for applications is 5 December 2018.

Further information on the fund and details on how to apply are available at www.enterprise-ireland.com/retail.

 

Dunnes takes top spot while Aldi achieves record market share

Dunnes Stores has reclaimed the top spot in the Irish grocery market for the first time since February this year, according to the latest grocery market share figures. The figures from Kantar Worldpanel which deal will with the 12 weeks ending 7 October 2018, Dunnes possessed 22.1%, due in part to strong sales growth of 3.4%.

Consumer insight director Douglas Faughnan says “Dunnes traditionally performs strongly over the festive period and the retailer may feel like Christmas has come early this year. While it is too soon to assess the full impact of its new Everyday Savers offer, which prices many own brand everyday items at a euro or less, Dunnes’ continued focus on shopper campaigns has helped to attract an extra 14,000 shoppers this period.”

After six consecutive periods at the top, Tesco was the second-largest supermarket, accounting for 21.5% of total grocery sales. With online grocery sales up 15% compared to this time last year, the retailer has looked to increase its dominance of online grocery in Ireland by introducing new e-commerce initiatives. Douglas Faughnan continues: “Tesco’s recent announcement of free delivery for over 65s when they spend €50 or more shows it is looking to further cash in on the growth of online shopping in Ireland. Although just 2.4% of grocery retailing comes through e-commerce at present, this figure is forecast to hit 5.0% by 2022, and retailers are now looking at new ways to capture their fair share of the online pie.”

SuperValu had 21.4% of Irish grocery sales. Douglas Faughnan explains the contrast of how the retailer performs in Dublin vs Munster. “Although SuperValu holds a 26.0% share in its Munster heartland, the retailer is less represented in Dublin, where it only accounts for 19.4% of sales. By contrast, Tesco and Dunnes perform more strongly in the capital, with shares of 23.6% and 26.1% respectively. SuperValu’s owner Musgraves will be hoping its recent acquisition of the Donnybrook Fair retail chain can help secure more footing in the capital.

For the discount retailers, Aldi have achieved a record market share of 11.8%, due in part to sales growth of 4.5%. The retailer’s Swap & Save campaign, which challenges shoppers to see how much they could save by switching to Aldi, has clearly made a difference to sales figures. The grocery chain attracted an additional 28,000 shoppers, with family shoppers accounting for over 80% of its growth.

 

 

Grants to be given to retailers to grow online sales

A pilot scheme worth €625,000 has been launched to help Irish retailers grow their e-commerce abilities and grow their online sales.

The scheme, launched by the government and set to be run by Enterprise Ireland aims to help Irish retailers export more goods through their only shops. It is hoped the scheme will provide grants to at least 25 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the retail sector to help improve their online capabilities and compete better internationally. The grants will be in the range of €10,000-€25,000 and at least half of the total number of grants awarded will be reserved for retail SMEs with their headquarters outside Dublin.

The grants can be used for research, consultation, implementation and training costs and will be made on a matching funds basis meaning a grant of €25,000 will only be awarded if the company is also investing €25,000 in its online trading strategy.

The scheme was announced at a meeting of the Retail Consultation Forum, a grouping of retail industry and public sector bodies chaired by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys.

“Many retailers face increasing international competition on their doorstep and need to enhance their competitiveness,” the Minister said.

To apply

To apply, the retail companies must be Irish-owned with the potential to create jobs, generate sales growth and export. They must also have an existing online presence and employ at least 20 people in the Republic.

Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said the organisation anticipated “a good response” to the pilot scheme from eligible retailers. “There is a strong need for Irish retailers to innovate through digitalisation,” she said.

Lorraine Higgins, chief executive of industry body Retail Excellence Ireland, welcomed the scheme.

“This is a hugely welcome development and a sea change in policy as the export potential of Irish retailers is now being recognised. Having an online sales channel is critical given the boundaryless nature of the industry and this pilot will certainly enhance the sales capacity of the successful applicants.”

She said the organisation looked forward to seeing the scheme expanded in the longer term.