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You are here: Home » Career Sector Information » Retail, Sales & Purchasing

Retail, Sales & Purchasing

Retail, Sales & Purchasing

The retail industry includes online shopping, mail order and direct sales in addition to traditional ‘bricks-and-mortar' high street or ‘mall' shopping.  More recently, this has included the buying of fresh produce online and there is a fast growing industry for food retailers, from farm shops to high street supermarkets,  to sell food in this way.  The sector has changed dramatically over the last ten years and the dependency on traditional high street retailing across the UK has seen a sharp decrease.

Retail is a strong sector in the region, with Yorkshire home to over 270 stores at Meadowhall, employing over 7,500 people at peak times, and both Sheffield and Leeds offering thriving retail quarters.  York is a draw for tourist retail with a diverse range of shops including antique and book dealers, specialty crafts shops, themed markets, elegant boutiques and mainstream shops.  Retail developments to expand existing provision or to create new shopping areas are underway in Leeds, Sheffield, Barnsley, Bradford and Wakefield bringing new retail opportunities to the region.

Opportunities for working in sales can be found across the region and over a variety of sectors.  All businesses need to sell in order to survive.  Sales roles may be within a department of a larger organisation, or you may find yourself as the only salesperson for the company if it is a smaller outfit.  Sales roles may start out being linked to a geographical area and there may be a significant amount of travel between customers involved.  

Purchasing is the acquisition of required materials, services and equipment in order for a company or organisation to be able to produce their product or service.  It is related to procurement and the supply chain.  Information is crucial too, as efficient use of information and information systems can ensure that the correct supply is made to the right people, at the right price, in a timely fashion.

The Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation based at Wakefield, with annual revenues in excess of £270m and employing more than 400 people, is the largest formally constituted local authority purchasing consortium in the UK.  They work to help their clients (public sector organisations) obtain products or services at a competitive price.  There are plenty of other opportunities in both private and public sector organisations across the region to work in purchasing, as all types of organisation require this role to be fulfilled.  Larger organisations are more likely to have a dedicated Purchasing Department than small companies, although these may still have a dedicated purchasing role.

There are plenty of roles on offer within this sector for graduates and competition for positions can be high. Speaking a European language can often make you more attractive to potential employers especially in international operations or purchasing roles. Graduates are taken on into the sector from any degree discipline but are likely to be expected to be good all rounders, with strong written and communication skills, good organisational skills and the ability to work effectively alone as well as part of team.

Have a look around the jobs in this area for a more detailed description of the roles on offer as well as some hints and tips of how you can make your CV more attractive to potential employers.

Job vacancies in Retail, Sales & Purchasing

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Useful links:


British Retail Consortium

The British Retail Consortium is the lead trade association for the UK retail industry, representing the whole range of retailers, from the large multiples and department stores through to independents, selling a wide selection of products through centre of town, out of town, rural and virtual stores.


Institute of Sales and Marketing Management

The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management is a professional body for salespeople in the UK, providing guidance, education, training and information.

Institute of Sales Promotion

The ISP is the trade association for the sales promotion industry.


Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation (YPO)

Largest formally constituted local authority purchasing consortium in the UK with more than 100 local authorities, schools and universities across the UK as their clients.