Recruiting in Difficult Locations?

There are several locations UK-wide that are particularly difficult to recruit in; Oxford, Swindon, Cambridge, Guildford, Reading and Medway to name a few. Retailers in these areas find it areal challenge to recruit for their stores for a number of reasons:

  • Location and surrounding competition
  • Access to the area
  • Local living cost
  • Candidate career aspirations
  • Candidate priorities
  • Company Benefits
  • Brand Loyalty
  • Brand perception andcredibility

This means that brands can go for weeks and months without vital roles being filled in their stores. This really can affect the stores performance and very often the morale of the colleagues. How can a store be running at maximum capacity and truly delivering for their customers if they don’t have enough managers steering the ship or enough colleague skeeping it going? The stress that is caused from having to work longer shifts and picking up the slack from the missing team mates is enough to make you want to quit…

Let’s use Oxford as an example… If you speak to any of the brands in the Westgate Shopping Centre, I can guarantee that they have not run on a full team since they opened a year ago. This seems crazy as everyone assumes that there are thousands of jobseekers looking for an opportunity.

Many factors make it difficult to get real talent in recruitment drives:

Students : Oxford has a huge amount of students that can only pick up part time contracts, are not looking for a progressive career in retail, may have little or zero work experience and ultimately will put their studies above any job they can secure  – fair play to them as well, if I was paying £12,000 a year for my education I know my Saturday job wouldn’t take priority.

Inaccessible town centre: It’s difficult to get into the town, the car park costs are astronomical and require a bank loan for an 8-hour ticket and the easiest mode of transport is a Park and Ride.

Competition: In my opinion, Bicester Village kills all opportunity for the brands in Oxford. This is because it is world-renowned, and the luxury brands have a strong appeal when looking for a job. It also has a free carpark and there is a train station on its door step. Some candidates will also want designer brands over Highstreet brands on their CVs for career direction and development.

Bicester Village also thrives on the high student population as they put them on low hour contracts and are flexible in peak time: It suits both parties! Also, the pay is significantly higher in Bicester Village and more akin to London salaries which draws candidates from far away often at the cost to other regional centres.  I went to a Bicester Village job fair in the summer and the queue to be pre-screened by Ralph Lauren was a mile-long with keen students wanting a Saturday job, at a premium rate of pay and 50% designer discount.

All in all, it can be much more challenging to find the right talent for these locations but this does not mean that it is impossible or even that there isn’t any…….search hard, look deeper than normal,network and if all of that still doesn’t produce results, call the best Recruitment Consultant you know, as you need a specialist.