Apprenticeships - Retail

Going to university and pursuing a degree is not the only option available to bright students. With the significant cost of a degree combined with its potential devaluation, you may want at least to consider your options. There are a number of firms offering very attractive School Leaver Programmes. These are well paid and you may find run parallel to many graduate schemes. They have the attraction of being less competitive at A level entry, therefore gaining you entry into an organisation that you may struggle to secure as a graduate, when the competition is fiercer. You will also be debt free. These schemes are becoming increasingly popular with employers.

Schemes include:

Retail: Aldi Apprenticeship

aldilogoAldi. Offers 2 apprenticeship programmes: stores and logistics.

In the store scheme, you will have a fixed term 12 month contract where you will complete Store Assistant training and achieve Retail Apprenticeship Level 2. In years 2 and 3, you will progress through store managment training. You will achieve Retail Apprenticeship Level 3 through consistent high standards of work and effort. Your progress will be monitored through regular on the job assessment by your Store Manager and an appointed external assessor. After completing the programme the highest performing candidates will be offered the opportunity to become a Deputy Manager and will be on the way to joining the Store Management Team with a starting salary of £26,500.

The Logistics programme is also a 3 year scheme. Year 1 you will work towards apprenticeship level 2. In years 2 and 3  you will achieve Logistics Apprenticeship Level 3 and  commence the Aldi Management Skills programme. Success will be monitored through regular on the job assessment by your Section Leader and an appointed external assessor. After successfully completing year 3, the best performers will be offered the opportunity to join the Aldi selector team on a permanent basis.

Retail: Arcadia Merchandising Apprenticeship

arcadiaArcadia. The UK's largest privatley owned fashion retailer with 8 major brands including; TopShop, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, TopMan, Outfit, Burton and Evans. They offer a Head Office Level 4 Merchandising Apprenticeship Programme: it’s a two-year course developed in partnership with the Fashion Retail Academy. There’s a Merchandising team behind every product area and they’re busy doing the smart thinking, deciding how to succeed as a business. And as an apprentice, you’ll play a vital role on the team, while launching your career.

What will you be doing?

It’s a real job, putting you to work on live business (you will be matched with a brand that’s a good fit). You’ll be analysing data, pinpointing the trends that drive sales, helping to allocate stock, monitoring and reviewing sales and stock levels, and generally providing administration support for the team. To do many of these tasks much of your day will be spent working on the in-house data base systems and Excel spreadsheets.

Starting out as a Merchandiser’s Admin Assistant (MAA), you’ll help make sure the products are in the right place, at the right time – whether it’s in-store or online. As well as staying on top of the everyday admin tasks, a big part of your role will be allocating new stock to stores. A skilful balancing act, it’s all about satisfying demand while not over-allocating stock so that they don't have to mark down prices.

Analysing and presenting customer buying and sales patterns, you’ll help guide the whole process, maximising profit opportunities and getting to know customers and stores inside out. One day you might be assessing sales figures. Next, you’ll consult with Buyers over a product sample to decide where to launch the latest creation. You’ll build excellent working relationships with Distribution, Branch Merchandising and the Buyer’s Admin Assistant in your department, as well as managing your UK-based and international suppliers.

You’ll attend training at least one day each month at the Fashion Retail Academy. You’ll work towards a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship qualification in Business Administration, accredited by City & Guilds. Then, when qualified, you should be all set to take up a Merchandise Administration Assistant role at Arcadia. 

Retail: BHS Accelerate

bhsBHS. Offers their Accelerate scheme for school leavers. Its an 18 month programme to fast track you into a Sales Floor Manager role. You will learn while you earn and achieve a Level 3 retail Managment qualification by the end of the programme. You will visit a range of BHS stores and take on a placements in a variety of management roles. You will also be involved in workeshops, learning sessions and stretch assignments. 

The role of the Sales Floor Manager

They provide support and direction for a team whilst developing innovative ways to drive sales and ensure exceptional customer service. You need a 'can do' attitude and a passion for fashion. You need to be fun and energetic with a creative flair. 

To apply you need 3 A Levels and 6 months fashion retail experience. You will earn £16,000 per annum during the 18 month placement. You need to complete the online application form and upload your CV. The next stage is a telephone interview, then a video interview and then an assessment day. The day will last about 5 hours and you will have a number of tasks to complete including a presentation. 

Retail: Boots Higher Apprenticeship

bootsBoots Higher Apprenticeship is based in Nottingham. 

This 2 year Programme gives you the opportunity to work within a functional team, contributing to the success of the business from day one and learning on the job, as well as continuing with your education. the programme covers everything from Brand, Buying and Marketing through to Supply Chain and will give you real exposure in a commercial environment. Successful completion of the Future Leaders Apprenticeship could lead to progression onto the Chartered Manager Degree apprenticeship. 

To join you’ll need to be 18 – 24 yrs old, have achieved GCSEs in Maths and English at Grade C or above (or equivalent) plus 3 A Levels (excluding general studies) or equivalent. Totaling a minimum of 240 UCAS points.

Retail: Harrods School Leaver Programme

harrodsHarrods school leaver programme is pecifically designed to support 18 year old school leavers deciding to pursue a opportunities in retail.. The 18 month programme will provide you with an unrivalled understanding of retail, selling and how to work in a professional environment. By the end, you will be armed with all the essential tools to a fast-track supervisory career within one of the luxury departments.


Practice tailored psychometric tests similar to the ones used by Harrods HERE.

Retail: Heathrow Academy

heathrowHeathrow Academy offer a range of Apprenticeship programmes:  

  • Intermediate (Level 2) – 13 months Equivalent to four / five GCSEs at grades A-C
  • Advanced (Level 3) – 15-18 months Equivalent to two A levels
  • Higher (Level 4-5) – 18-24 months Foundation Degree and above.

The following skills and qualifications are offered:

  • retail skills
  • customer services
  • management
  • team leading
  • hospitality services, supervision and leadership
  • kitchen services
  • aviation and logistics
  • warehouse and storage
  • business administration

Retail: John Lewis Retail & Technology Apprenticeships

johnlewislogoJohn Lewis are currently piloting a number of apprenticeships and will re-launch their schemes in 2018. 

Historicall they have offered two apprenticeship progarmmes: Retail Management and Technology.

Retail Apprenticeships

Retail is fast paced, customer focused and no two days will be the same. As such you will need to have a keen interest in retail and understand what makes great customer service. If you're under 20 and set to achieve A to C grade A-levels, their level 3 Apprenticeship can help you make the most of your potential. You'll get support and expert guidance from the best in the business. And after you've completed your programme, you'll be given a permanent role at John Lewis From there, you'll have the chance to become a section manager – if you show you have the talent and drive.

IT Degree Apprenticeship

Retail: M&S Trainee Retail Manager Scheme

mandsM&S Trainee Retail Management Scheme provides a fast track to a Commercial Manager role and a range of retail experience. This Management Scheme for School Leavers is fun and challenging and will give you everything you need to run your own £multi-million M&S department – in only 18 months. Through a combination of on-the-job learning, real-life project work, and development activities, you’ll get to know retail management inside out.

You will need two A-levels (or equivalent), and a solid commercial approach.

During the 18-month scheme, you'll branch out from your base location with a series of short-term roles in stores around the region. You'll need to be driven and flexible, tackling different shifts and going wherever the role takes you.

You'll start on £18,000 plus benefits. Once you've successfully completed the programme and become a Commercial Manager, you'll move up to a basic salary of around £26,000.

Application Process

You will need to complete an online application that includes a verbal and numerical test, plus a talent screener. 

The final step will be an Assessment Centre which will include a number of exercises for you to take part in, including a group activity, an analysis exercise and presentation, a competency interview and coaching task.

Retail: Mondelez International (Cadbury)

mondelezlogoMondelez International is a global snacking powerhouse which includes names like Cadbury, Oreo, Toblerone, Trebor, Kenco and Philadelphia. Iconic brands that have made them number one globally in biscuits, chocolate, candy and powdered beverages, and number two in coffee and gum. They are looking for A Level School Leavers to join their team, in three locations: Reading, Banbury and Bournville. They are offering a three year school leaver programme. 

These placements will be in five different areas:

  • Sales  - is all about customers: the stores and supermarkets that buy products 
  • Supply Chain- one of the most expansive areas of the business, responsible for storing products, taking orders, managing demand, arranging transport, collecting payments and, ultimately, ensuring that products reach store shelves all over the UK and Ireland – in full and on time. 
  • Engineering- engineers develop the highly technical processes behind every product made, whether it’s a new recipe for Dairylea Dunkers or a new chocolate bar such as Marvellous Creations
  • HR  - supports the design and delivery of people systems and processes, and works with business leaders and managers to support the people agenda. You’ll also develop generalist skills such as leadership and workforce planning, while gaining specialist skills in areas such as organisational effectiveness and compensation and benefits.
  • Research, Development & Quality (RD&Q) - a number of areas including the Chemistry Department who make chemical and physical measurements to characterise composition, functionality and nutritional value; the Packaging team who use their expertise for everything from extending the shelf life of products to ensuring they’re wrapped in an environmentally-friendly way. The Consumer and Sensory Science people provide sensory testing and consumer research;the Nutritional Group offers strategic leadership in nutritional science and the Science and Regulatory Affairs Department handles legislation and regulatory compliance. There is also a Quality team who develop and carry out proactive food safety initiatives.

Retail: Nestle Apprenticeships

nestlesNestle offer Apprenticeships in HR, operations and finance as well as a chartered management degree apprenticeship. 

HR Apprenticeship- this is a three year programme. You will study for a recognised qualification, combined with workplace training and a real role in a global business. You will  study for a Level 5 qualification from the industry body, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). This will be combined with you undertaking interesting and varied roles across the HR function allowing you to make a genuine contribution to the business from day one.

Operations Degree Apprenticeship  - This three-year programme offers you an amazing opportunity to combine University studies with practical experience in the global business. By the end of the Apprenticeship, you'll have developed the professional knowledge combined with the skills and behaviours to set you up for future success. You'll study for a BA (Hons.) degree in Professional Business Practice at Sheffield Hallam University in blocks of study and combine this with rotations in our operations teams.

Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship - If you're looking for high calibre training leading to a degree qualification, together with business experience and a promising career, this Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship offers just that. With a real job from day one in one of the commercial functions, you'll make a genuine contribution to Nestlé. You'll study for a BA (Hons.) degree in Professional Business Practice at Sheffield Hallam University and combine this with placements in a number of Nestlé’s business functions. In your first two years, you'll enjoy work placements in four of Nestlé’s commercial business areas and alongside this invaluable experience you'll have blocks of study at Sheffield Hallam. For your final year, you will specialise into a specific business area, based on your strengths and Nestlé's business needs, whilst writing your dissertation.

Finance Apprtenticeships - On this two-year Finance Higher Apprenticeship you will study towards your CIMA qualification whilst doing a real job and earning a competitive salary from day one.The Apprenticeship programme is designed to expose you to a variety of roles. These may involve everything from managing cash collections, to working on specific improvement projects, to collaborating with our commercial Sales and Marketing teams to ensure Nestle invest wisely with customers and consumers. At the same time, you’ll start working towards the CIMA Diploma in Business Accounting, studying on day release at a local training centre. If you excel on the Apprenticeship, Nestle will continue to support you towards your full CIMA qualifications. In fact, you could be fully qualified within four years.

For all the above apprenticeships, candidates who completed their A-levels in 2017 or later will need 104 UCAS points from three A Levels (excluding General Studies) or equivalent to be eligible for this programme. The equivalent requirement based on the former UCAS scoring system (2016 and previous) is 260 UCAS points. For the finance apprenticeship, you need 120 UCAS points or 300 on the old system. 

Retail: Tesco Commercial Development Programme

tescoThe Tesco Commercial Development Programme is a two-year programme to help you become a Buyer or Merchandiser in one of the General Merchandise or Food teams.

Buying Roles

Buyers use a combination of deep product knowledge, customer insight and understanding of sales results to:

  • Source and manage a range of products to ensure our customers get what they want, at great prices
  • Develop relationships and negotiate with suppliers
  • Get to know our customers and products inside out

Merchandisering Roles

They work closely with Buyers, sourcing hubs, and suppliers around the world, to determine the price, quantity and availability of products. They use strong data and time management skills to:

  • Analyse sales data
  • Manage budgets and targets to make sure the right stock’s in the right place at the right time
  • Get products from factories to distribution centres to stores to shelves.

You require:

  • 240 UCAS Points (excluding General Studies)
  • Maths and English GCSE Grade C
  • To manage workload in a fast-paced environment
  • Good computer skills, including Word and Excel

The roles are based in Tesco Head Offices located in Welwyn Garden City and Cheshunt, so you could be placed at either office.

Recruitment Process

  1. Online application form
  2. Telephone interview
  3. Psychometric testing
  4. Assessment centre

Learn more about Tesco's assessment process and online tests HERE.

Retail: Tesco Trainee Management Programme

tescoTesco Trainee Management is a fast-track programme  designed to launch retail management careers in just 12 months. The programme involves immediate responsibility and hands-on experience, combined with on and off the job training. Full managerial responsibility will follow. With plenty of support from your store managers, as well as excellent on-the-job training and external learning, you'll soon start to have the basic technical and leadership skills to work as a line manager in one of Tesco stores.

There is also the option of the Distribution Trainee Management programme

To apply to these programmes you need to have:

  • 240 UCAS Points (excluding General Studies)
  • Maths and English GCSE Grade C
  • To be a strong leader of people who inspires everyone to achieve together

Recruitment Process

  1. Online self-assessment checklist
  2. Online application form
  3. Behavioural Talent Screener
  4. Telephone interview
  5. Work sample in store
  6. Assessment centre

Learn more about Tesco's assessment process and online tests HERE.


Retail: Tesco: Level 4 F&F Apprenticeship

tescoTesco offers a two-year programme that’s a partnership between F&F and the Fashion Retail Academy. There are two 12-month placements, one in Buying and the other in Merchandising. One day a fortnight you attend the Fashion Retail Academy, just off London’s Tottenham Court Road, to study for a Level 4 Diploma in Buying or Merchandising. With talent and hard work you can become an expert in fashion - even a leader in Tesco. But before that you’ll need to decide to become either a Buyer or a Merchandiser. Both lead to exciting careers. One day you could be a Head of Merchandising, responsible for the supply and financial success of an entire range; or a Head of Buying, responsible for building up a head-turning range of products.

You require:

  • 240 UCAS Points (excluding General Studies)
  • Maths and English GCSE Grade C and above
  • To eat, sleep and breathe fashion
  • An eye for numbers and a head for interpreting data

Buying or Merchandising?

Buyers use product knowledge, customer insight and a firm grasp of sales results to:

  • Source and manage ranges that give customers what they want, at prices they can afford
  • Develop relationships and negotiate the best deals with suppliers
  • Get to know customers and products inside out
  • Work with the design team to create big sellers.

Merchandisers work closely with Buyers to scour the world for the right products at the right price and in the right quantity. They also:

  • Analyse sales data
  • Manage budgets and targets to make sure the right stock’s in the right place at the right time
  • See to it that products get from factory to distribution centre to store to shelf as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Student Ladder