Staffing challenges for seasonal pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are an increasingly common sight on UK high streets. And as Christmas approaches, the number of these ’here today, gone tomorrow’ retailers is set to increase.

Pop-up shops are an increasingly common sight on UK high streets. And as Christmas approaches, the number of these ’here today, gone tomorrow’ retailers is set to increase.

However, as a recent roundtable sponsored by specialist accountancy recruiter Balance Recruitment heard, pop-up shops present significant challenges for those firms looking to recruit.

At last month’s event chaired by Recruiter editor DeeDee Doke, finance directors from a number of retailers agreed that weak consumer confidence and the continuing flight to online retailing encouraged more retailers to rent high street premises for a short period.

“We do 55-60 pop-up stores at Christmas, where we get concessionary rent deals for three months, just paying rents and service charges,” said the finance director of one national retailer. “The Christmas period is where we make money, and then we will be out.”

Steve Ball, group finance director of training organisation, SEMTA, said pop-up stores were “a great way to deal with difficulties in the property market”. However, he added, “60 temporary stores means a lot of people to recruit at the same time”.

The finance director from the national retailer agreed that expansion on such a scale in such a short period was difficult: “We have 100 stores, we are going to 160. We need temporary area managers, we need temporary staff, we need more staff in the warehouse, and then we close them all down again in January/February.”

Many of the staff in pop-up shops are on the minimum wage, said the finance director, and although there was no shortage of applicants, there were other challenges in finding staff of sufficient calibre.

“The challenge is that you want someone who can interact with customers, bring the brand to life whatever your retail brand. It is getting the right people to do that,” said the finance director.

Jojn Caiger, finance director of high-end retail group Theory, disagreed. There are many of the right type of people out there, he said. “It is the effort involved in getting those people at the right time that is the bigger challenge,” he added.

Those who participated in the roundtable were:

  • Steve Ball, group finance director and company secretary of training company, SEMTA
  • John Caiger, finance director, Theory
  • Tony Jennings, chief executive Budweiser Budvar UK
  • Finance director of a national retailer
  • Head of a finance division at a major e-commerce player

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