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Case study: Developing retail managers across islands


Kevin Ryan, Group Training & Development Manager for Le Riche's Stores, explains how retail management development has been successfully implemented in the Channel Islands, with the help of some novel training locations!

Company Profile

Le Riche's Stores is the largest division of the Le Riche Group, a Food Retailer operating in the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney. The division has approximately 650 staff working in Superstores, Convenience stores and Petrol forecourts. The company was established in 1818 and plays an important role in the community on all three islands.

New Learning initiatives

Autumn 2001 is a key date in the calendar of all Le Riche’s Stores staff in Guernsey, as this is the date when the new Checkers Superstore opens at Admiral Park. One of the most fundamental features of the whole project is people. For two years the Personnel and Training Departments have been busy planning for the big day. This involved piloting new training programmes and carrying out training needs analysis.

The selection process for the store's management team began in January 2001 when we held an Assessment Centre. This activity-based day was designed to help recognise potential and skills in existing staff wishing to join the Checkers Management team. The event generated a great deal of enthusiasm with exercises measuring skills ranging from communication to teamwork. The principle that learning must be fun certainly applied in a team exercise that involved projecting an egg as far as possible without breaking it. Creative problem solving was definitely evident throughout.

The real success of this event was that it led to the placement of all participants in roles in the new store. The centre revealed some strengths that are not always instantly recognisable in the workplace. This meant that some individuals have now been offered positions within the management team that they may not have initially considered. I think the fact that the majority of the management team were selected from existing staff is testament to the wealth of experience already present in the business.

Once the team was selected they were given feedback about their positions and placed on the newly developed Management Learning Programme. This in-house course is designed to equip senior store management with the technical and operational skills to manage their part of the business effectively. It consists of 12 workshops held on a fortnightly basis off site. The sessions use active learning techniques and the ideas and feedback from the sessions are passed to the Retail Operations team who are closely involved throughout. Topics covered include Customer Care Excellence, Health & Safety Training, Personnel Procedures, and Merchandising Skills. This pilot has proved to be so successful in Guernsey that it will be rolled out in Jersey next year offering the foundation of a structured Retail Management Training Programme. Candidates completing the programme receive an in-house certificate listing the modules covered.

The NEBSM Management Certificate training that we do with the Guernsey Business School also reinforces the in-house Management Learning Programme. We have placed over 80 management staff through the National Examining Board of Supervision Management awards in the past three years. This nationally recognised qualification focuses on the soft skills required by today’s management such as effective delegation and communication.

Another initiative that has been piloted in Guernsey and is now running in Jersey as well is the "Key Player" Programme. This course was designed for staff that are taking their first steps into a junior management position. It covers all basic management skills and focuses on work-based learning. Store managers work with their candidates to ensure they gain the operational store knowledge they require. The workshops are lively events and have created materials and procedures that are now used in stores across the Retail Division. One session covering Profit & Loss Accounts was taught on a Guernsey beach as the temperature in the training room soared one day in August last year. The candidates learnt about profit using pebbles and the beach as a flipchart. Kevin Ryan, Group Training Manager said; "It may not be conventional classroom teaching but it was a subject they never forgot. Also the tourists who took video footage of the event are still probably trying to work out what we were doing". Key player has become a major part of the Development Plan of many staff. It links into the higher level Management Learning Programme and has currently got 40 staff across the islands taking part.

The development of our staff never stands still and there is always something new being developed. The latest project that has just got underway is the Le Riche's Stores Meat Training Certificate. This new in-house award will train our Butchery Counter Staff in all key areas such as Customer Service, Meat handling and display, Food Hygiene and Safe Storage. The design of this learning is based upon in-store workbooks and associated training workshops that will reinforce what is learnt behind the butchery counter. We are linking the training to NVQ standards so that we can run the qualification alongside in future.

The success of all the staff development mentioned above is very much dependent upon the strong working relationship between the Personnel Team in Guernsey and the Training Department based in Jersey. By working together they have developed individual training and development plans and a training infrastructure that ensures we meet our key objective of "Making Learning Happen".


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