When high-quality offers are crucial

August 17, 2018 | Luxembourg’s business sectors | Emilie di Vincenzo

Food retail – a job of many facets

To practice the varied job of a food retailer, you need a range of different competences to complete everyday tasks.

Whether managing commercial relationships or providing customer service, completing administrative duties or optimally designing rows of shelves – the managing director is rarely bored! Employees must also be ready to take on a variety of tasks – especially as there tend to be quite a few of them. In our day and age, in which supermarkets continue to expand, food retailers must master great challenges – if they want to keep offering an attractive product range.

What exactly is a food retailer?

Food retail generally refers to a small local shop that offers all kinds of everyday products, including food, household goods, and cosmetic or body hygiene items. Small or medium-sized stores are usually run by one single person. However, some companies also employ a medium-sized team and number a few employees.

The manager of a food retail store rarely counts their long working hours. If you decide on a job like this, you will need to fully commit and invest a huge amount of time. Depending on the size of the store, it stocks 300 to 2,500 items that must be managed. The aspects of goods acquisition and shelf presentation should not be underestimated. The product range must be designed in such a way that the customer enjoys going shopping and does so regularly – especially because the food retail business model is generally based on proximity to the customer, and this personal relationship is very important. On days on which the shop is closed, the company owner completes administrative tasks and bookkeeping. This job offers few breaks. You can however earn a decent living and at the same time work on your personal development.

The product range must be designed in such a way that the customer enjoys going shopping and does so regularly – especially because the food retail business model is generally based on proximity to the customer, and this personal relationship is very important.

Which competences are essential?

An individual who wants to run their own food store must have the status of a trader and possess a right of establishment. This is only issued if the applicant meets all qualification requirements and can be an honourable salesman. Additionally, they must indicate a fixed address for their future business.

As is applicable for the trade industry, a food retailer must have obtained a Vocational Aptitude Diploma (DAP) or an equivalent qualification (CATP, CAP, etc.). They can also practice their profession following further education if they have passed their Abitur or completed a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree.

However, if the individual does not have a qualification, they must prove that they have worked in the industry for three years in an EU country. At the end of the training, they must pass a certification exam – issued by the House of Training. This opens the door to their career as a food retailer. They can also complete their training in another EU state. A food store can also be opened if the respective person already had a right of establishment beforehand.

Important in practice: Optimal preparation

If the individual interested in opening their own grocery store has obtained all necessary diplomas, they should start planning their project in detail. In concrete terms, this means determining the geographical location of the shop, deciding on a specific business model, choosing the company name, potentially joining a franchising chain, and acquiring information on their future customers to be able to include their wishes in the plans.

In theory, you can open a retail store in any part of town. However, to remain competitive, you should make sure that your store is not located near a large supermarket or shopping centre. Due to their need of an expansive retail space, large supermarkets are often situated in a city’s outskirts, in the suburbs. A small food retailer can develop more quickly in an urban area if they take the wishes of the locals into consideration, those who are looking for an alternative option for their daily shopping close to their apartment or place of work.

A food retailer’s location should ideally be situated in a place with a high demand, a developing part of the city that does not yet feature a grocery store.

In concrete terms, this means determining the geographical location of the shop, deciding on a specific business model, choosing the company name, potentially joining a franchising chain, and acquiring information on their future customers to be able to include their wishes in the plans.

What does the everyday life of a food retailer look like?

A food retailer is responsible for selecting their range of products. They therefore negotiate with suppliers to get the best conditions, allowing them to gain sufficient revenue. At the same time, they keep an eye on developments in retail goods, so that they can adjust their range in accordance with these changes. For example, in the last years, an increasing number of items were offered in smaller packaging sizes. This modern trend helps prevent food waste. A clever food retailer pays close attention to these kinds of offers! Additionally, many consumers are trying to use less packaging. They will appreciate the food retailer’s efforts in reducing the number of plastic and paper bags. Retailers will take these back once they are worn out.

Food retailers must also precisely follow hygiene regulations, in their storage as well as on the shelves. In terms of food safety, they must examine whether all provisions have been met every day. Since a food retailer orientates their product range on customers in the store’s trading area, they advise their customers competently and make an intense effort to establish customer loyalty.

A favourable development

When large supermarkets and shopping centres emerged a few decades ago, small retailers faced great difficulty in competing, and numerous shops were forced to close. Today, however, we are seeing a return to traditional values. This can be observed in consumer behaviour: Many people want to support local businesses and decrease their purchases in shopping centres.

We can conclude that grocery stores are capable of modernising. Some choose a very modern approach and specialise in the area of organic products or offer products without packaging. As a result of these initiatives, we can assume that these retailers located in city districts can last for a long time if they succeed in providing a different product range from large supermarkets.

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