Shopkeepers own, run and manage one or more independent shops, stores or retail outlets.
This is a hands-on role. Shopkeepers are involved in every aspect of the business, from ordering stock and merchandising, through to serving customers and balancing the books. It is important to understand how to run a business and handle profit and loss accounts, book-keeping and VAT.
Responsibilities vary, depending on the type of retail business, but are likely to include:
Retail outlets can be diverse and include small independents such as grocers, florists, fishmongers, fashion retailers, jewellers, newsagents, dry cleaners, butchers, bakers, booksellers and specialist equipment shops.
Independent shopkeepers may run concessions within larger stores. Some shopkeepers may purchase a franchise from a large company. This enables them to be their own boss and trade with an established and recognised brand. In addition, a franchise provides training and business systems.
Sales of goods over the internet have grown. Many shops have their own website to take advantage of this. Some also offer a mail-order service.
Shopkeepers do not work set hours. Generally they work long, irregular hours, often including evenings and weekends. Additional hours may be required, particularly in the run-up to Christmas and other peak trading periods, and for stocktaking.
Retail outlets vary in size, but are generally clean and pleasant environments to work in. At certain times during the day, they can be extremely busy. A driving licence may be useful.
Shopkeepers are expected to have a smart appearance and may wear a uniform. The work may be physical and involve lifting and carrying. There may be long periods of standing.
When starting out, shopkeepers may earn from around £15,000 a year but experienced shopkeepers can earn around £34,000 a year. Successful shopkeepers may have an annual turnover of £60,000 to £70,000. Some will turn over far more than this.
There are around 293,000 retail outlets in the UK, employing just under three million people. There has, however, been a decline in the number of independent shopkeepers in the past few years. This is due to growing competition from multinational stores and supermarkets.
Retail businesses may be advertised in local and national newspapers, in trade publications and in Daltons Weekly. They may also be advertised on the internet on specialist sites such as http://uk.businessesforsale.com/uk and www.daltonsbusiness.com
There is a steady demand throughout the UK for people to take on franchises. Taking on a franchise usually involves an initial fee for the licence to use the brand name, initial training and setup, and the equipment required. Further information can be obtained from the British Franchise Association or Exemplas.
There are no set entry requirements. Most shopkeepers work as retail employees before branching out to open their own stores. Any sales and customer service experience is useful. Previous work experience can be gained from:
Shopkeepers need their own finance to buy a retail business, or they need to be prepared to borrow the money from a bank.
Business Link and NFEA (the national enterprise network) provide guidance and support when setting up a business. This can range from helping to identify suitable premises through to writing a business plan.
Shopkeepers need to be self-motivated. It is their responsibility to identify their own training requirements. Relevant qualifications include:
Certificate/Diploma Level 3 in retail. Options include management, visual merchandising and sales professional.
Foundation degree in retailing.
Open University Professional Certificate in Management.
Local colleges, training providers and trade associations such as the BHF-BSSA group offer courses on subjects such as starting a business, VAT and marketing.
The National Skills Academy for Retail operates skill shops throughout the UK and they can provide a one-stop shop for information, advice and guidance on training and funding. They also offer short courses inspired by Mary Portas, retail-specific customer service and selling courses, national retail qualifications and training in legislative requirements. See the National Skills Academy for Retail website for further details.
Franchising companies support anyone who has taken on a franchise. They provide them with specific training about their job and the products they are selling. The franchising companies also hold seminars to upgrade skills. Subjects covered include product training and training in new technology, and courses in computing and running a small business.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A shopkeeper should:
Shopkeepers may be able to develop their business by employing additional staff or by promoting their profile within the local business community.
They may seek to open further stores or create a small chain.
British Franchise Association,
A2 Danebrook Court, Oxford Office Village,
Langford Lane, Oxford OX5 1LQ
Tel: 01865 379892
British Shops and Stores Association Limited (BSSA),
Middleton House, 2 Main Road,
Middleton Cheney, Banbury,
Oxon OX17 2TN
Tel: 01295 712277
Tel: 0845 600 9006
Exemplas, Maclaurin Building,
4 Bishops Square Business Park,
Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9NE
Tel: 0845 6020101
The National Skills Academy for Retail,
4th Floor, 93 Newman Street,
London W1T 3EZ
Tel: 020 7462 5089
NFEA (the national enterprise network),
12 Stephenson Court, Fraser Road,
Priory Business Park, Bedford MK44 3WJ
Tel: 01234 831623
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.