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HomeINDUSTRY INSIGHTProfessionalising the retail industry

Professionalising the retail industry

Many retail leaders are keen to promote retail as a career. Now, aspiring managers and future industry leaders can pursue their goals directly through Massey University’s Bachelor of Retail and Business Management.

Retail is New Zealand’s second-largest employment sector and as such, it should be a career of choice, says Professor Jonathan Elms, Sir Stephen Tindall Chair in Retail Management and director of the Centre for Advanced Retail Studies (CARS). As many retailers already know, there’s a number of negative stereotypes about retail circulating, but Elms says the reality is that retail offers diverse, dynamic, rewarding career paths for graduates.

“Our aim is for people to see retail as an actual profession rather than something people fall into either accidentally or out
of desperation.”

Massey’s three-year Bachelor of Retail and Business Management (BRBM) is available at the Auckland campus or via distance learning. Completed via full-time or part-time study, it offers a variety of retail specialities, including buying, sourcing, category management, logistics and supply chain management.

These are all fused together in a way that’s also customer-focused, says Elms. This integrated approach is the BRBM’s point of difference, he explains.

“Many marketing degrees promise the world to consumers but are light-touch on delivery, but finance and business degrees can be narrow in their focus. We connect all the processes and practices together.”

“With a retail degree, you deliver on what you promise.” The BRBM is Australasia’s only specialist retail degree. Its students have gone on to retail management roles, managerial roles within retail and service organisations, and to set up their own enterprises.

In Massey’s recent Big Issues in Retail survey, retailers reported that they considered staff retention their biggest future challenge. Elms says New Zealand is approaching full employment, resulting in organisations “effectively scrambling around” trying to recruit staff. He’s noticed that retailers across the board are recruiting at every level, from the shopfloor to the executive suite.

“I think it’s a bit of a crunch time for the service sector, including retail,” Elms says. “Retail is a lucrative, exciting area of work, but we also need the best people.”

As well as producing quality graduates, Massey’s BRBM provides short and long courses offering training and development opportunities for more senior retail staff wishing to upskill and move into management. Elms says this kind of ongoing education is key to both attracting and retaining staff.

He says having a BRBM graduate on the team creates a “halo effect” that introduces increased professionalism and benchmarks best practice for others.

Elms says the extent of industry support and collaboration that Massey’s BRBM has enjoyed is virtually unprecedented, allowing students to access thought leadership and placement opportunities from leading retailers like The Warehouse Group.  

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