Uniting the region's retailers

A new initiative, masterminded by business experts from Southampton Solent University, is uniting the region’s retailers and helping them find ways of boosting sales and increasing productivity.

Launched in March, the Solent Retail Network gives local retailers and businesses the opportunity to hear from industry experts, share best practice and discuss current issues within the sector.

The inaugural event, held at the University’s conference centre, was attended by industry leaders and representatives from the region’s retail and business sectors including: Tesco; GetNeo; Game; Hampshire Chamber of Commerce; and Southampton City Council.
 
Keynote speaker Martyn Phillips, former CEO of B&Q who now works for Leading Edge, was impressed with the energy, enterprise and commitment of those taking part in the event.

During his talk he urged attendees to embrace the omni-channel approach: “It enables customers to interact with their brand when and where and however they want. They are getting choice, value and convenience at levels not seen before.”

“It means different things for different retailers,” he continued. “It requires a considered, informed and intelligent approach, coupled with an ability to adapt in a fast-changing environment.

“While omni-channel retailing is clearly great news for customers, in my experience it requires real focus on the quality of the people programmes in a business, from the boardroom to the shop floor.”

Martin was joined by Jane Rexworthy, head of the National Skills Academy for Retail, who highlighted what omni-channel retailing means for staff development, and  Scott Taviner, retail operations manager for the Southern Co-op, focused on the sector’s education requirements for producing tomorrow’s retail leaders.

The event also marked the launch of an exciting new portfolio of courses at Solent University. Created specifically to support employers with in-house training, the programme provides a range of flexible courses aimed at retail employees - from Foundation level to Masters degrees.

Christine Fountain, Principal Lecturer at Southampton Solent Business School said: “Retail is very important to the region’s economy and we want to support growth in the sector. Knowledge transfer and workforce development are two areas where we can bring our expertise to bear.”

Discussions are already underway on where and when the next meeting of the Solent Retail Network will take place.   For more information about the new retail group and programme of courses specifically designed for the retail sector email retail.sbs@solent.ac.uk

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT THE MEDIA OFFICE ON 023 8031 9040 or press.office@solent.ac.uk

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Home to around 11,000 students studying everything from HNDs to PhDs, Southampton Solent University is dedicated to enabling learners of all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders, while also promoting economic and social prosperity. Winner of the Times Higher Education ‘Most Improved Student Experience’ Award 2015, Solent is a dynamic university with strong local links and a growing network of global connections – and a reputation for developing grounded, well-prepared graduates with the skills and experience employers want. Holder of the small business charter, home to one of the world’s leading maritime training academies and voted one of the UK’s most creative universities in the 2013 and 2014 Which? University student polls, Solent applies passion and innovative practice to all its courses. Spanning business and law, the creative industries, engineering and technology, maritime, media, sport and tourism, those courses deliver a practical blend of career-focused tuition and real-world experience – giving our students the tools they need to shape their own success.

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Retail is very important to the region’s economy and we want to support growth in the sector
Christine Fountain, Principal Lecturer at Southampton Solent Business School