Home » Career Transformation » Helping more people grow and advance their careers in retail

Jean Marten

Head of HR, Retail Operations Ireland, Applegreen

Katie Dunne

Early Careers Manager, Applegreen

Offering employees a range of career journeys and internal development opportunities can prove invaluable in retaining loyal and motivated colleagues within the retail sector.

Retail experts highlight the value of recruiting employees from various backgrounds to deliver a workforce that can best relate to the customer base. Applegreen, Head of HR, Jean Marten emphasises how different entry options into retail and an array of career development strategies ensure individuals meet their aspirations.

Career opportunities for all

With a diverse customer demographic, Marten says having colleagues from a broad range of backgrounds is instrumental to the success of a customer-centric business.

“Our colleagues are immersed in the communities they work in — they know our customers,” she says. “They listen to their needs and wants, to continue to enhance their customer experience. If we hire people who are passionate about customer experience, it keeps us abreast of what the market wants.”

Marten is Head of HR (Retail Operations Ireland) for roadside retailer Applegreen, which operates across Ireland, the UK and the United States.

Pointing to a workforce with 60+ different nationalities, she says the company offers flexible career paths for people of different ages, mindsets or aspirations. “One size does not fit all,” she adds.

One size does not fit all.

Jean Marten

How to retain employees

Diversity can also help with employee retention, particularly with the company undergoing a period of rapid growth and transformation as consumer needs change.

Katie Dunne, Applegreen’s Early Careers Manager, responsible for the company’s internship and retail graduate programmes, outlines how their retail and finance graduate programmes see participants rotating between departments to offer “a holistic view of the business.”

“It works for us and for those coming out of university who aren’t 100% sure about what part of the business they are most interested in.” Retail graduates receive accredited diplomas, while accounting and finance graduates are supported to become ACCA-accredited.

Training opportunities

Other training programmes include QQI-accredited leadership programmes; City & Guilds accredited barista and customer service programmes; a 2-year apprenticeship programme; a 3-year retail degree programme; alongside a suite of other tailored management development programmes.

“We are very passionate about internal succession,” adds Marten. Such pathways have, for example, seen an individual who joined as a maintenance employee advance to a retail director position; a deli worker who had moved from Lithuania to become a regional manager; and an intern progress to become executive assistant to senior company directors.

Marten emphasises the global opportunities within Applegreen, pointing to managers who have relocated from Ireland to drive the US arm of the business.

Applegreen is a leader in roadside retail encompassing food, fuel and convenience offerings. Founded in 1992 in Dublin, they have expanded to operate over 600 sites and employ over 15,000 colleagues across Ireland, the UK and United States.

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