Job Description: Department Manager
A department manager in the retail industry, is a considerably responsible position and one which requires you to have a wide variety of skills.
You’ll need to be a marketing and HR person, a PR person and a sales person all wrapped up with great communication skills and the ability to motivate and excite your store personnel.
Depending on the size and type of organisation, you'll be responsible for activities such as merchandising, stock availability, profit protection, sales, profitability, account analysis, forecasting and general day-to-day management of your particular department.
Is it for you?
It's a busy and demanding position and you’ll look look after all aspects of customer service for your trading area. That means recruitment, training and management are also among your duties - along with selling to the public and developing contacts with potential customers.
In a big store, you’ll be reporting and co-ordinating with the General Manager of the store on all aspects of its operation, including targets and sales strategies. In your own department specifically, you’ll be working closely with buyers and merchandisers to make sure your department really shines.
You will probably have an office base in the store, but will spend much of your time on the shop floor and staying in touch with your staff and what is happening on a day to day basis.
Qualifications and Skills
To be a department manager, you'll need a wide range of skills, and, like the general Store manager above you, you will have to be good at a whole cross section of disciplines. Not least you have to have a good business sense plus an ability to lead and motivate a team. You’ll need excellent communication and 'people' skills allied to a strong sense of customer service.
As we have said, most department managers and store managers have worked their way up from shop assistant roles so there is no specific qualification required at entry level. However, you will need to be competent in maths and IT. You could join a large retail chain directly as a trainee manager, through a management training scheme and most companies will ask you to be qualified up to A levels or an equivalent such as a BTEC National Diploma).
There are also retail industry apprenticeship schemes availalbe for this sector. When you're working for a chain, you may be offered in-house training. This could include the chance to gain work-based qualifications, such as NVQ Level 2 in Retail Skills, Level 3 in Retail and Level 4 in Sales.
Opportunities and salaries
The retail sector is a big employer in the UK, hiring around 10% of the workforce. The opportunities, are therefore plentiful, with lots of chances for you to enter different types of retail outlets as a student or part time worker during holidays and gaps years etc.
It also gives you the chance to find the particular type of outlet and product you are comfortable with. With experience, you can progress from department manager to store, area or regional manager if you're working for a chain – and very often you’ll be judged on results, so if you’re good, you’ll soon rise upwards.
As a department manager, you can typically earn between £17,000 and £25,000, depending on your experience and especially the nature and location of the store. Move onto become store manager and this figure can double to £50k. There is also the prospect of a place on the board and commission for meeting sales targets.