Date: 7th Jun 2016
Shop managers and staff at charities Willen Hospice and Rennie Grove Hospice Care are aiming to become business-savvy thanks to a six-month course developed by Bucks New University, The Clare Foundation and John Lewis High Wycombe.
The Retail Academy for the Voluntary Sector is aimed at ensuring that shops belonging to the charities are as effective as possible, and focuses on aspects including leadership skills, managing volunteers, and visual merchandising.
Funded by Health Education Thames Valley, the academy supports work in the private, voluntary and independent sectors, and includes a day-long training workshop at John Lewis's store in High Wycombe.
Dr Lesley Bridges, Principal Lecturer in Advanced & Continuing Professional Development, and Dr Rebecca Chandler-Wilde, Dean for Enterprise and Business Management, head the course for Bucks New University.
Dr Bridges said: "The programme has been developed for managers working in the charitable retail sector.
"It aims to enhance and develop managers' knowledge and skills of leadership and business management in order to respond effectively to the challenges faced in the charitable sector."
Deborah Gould, Director of Retail & Trading at Rennie Grove Hospice Care, said its 24 shops and other retail initiatives were tasked with bringing in over £2 million per year.
She added: "The Academy offers an excellent opportunity for new and existing managers to maximise the income-generating potential of their specific shop.
"It will help them understand what sells well and how to optimise those trends through effective leadership, marketing and business development."
Marilyn David, Practice Development Manager at Willen Hospice, added: "The course has been developed to encompass the challenges hospices face in today's modern and competitive world.
"All hospice staff are devoted to raising the public profile of their organisations, as well as raising vital funds in a sensitive ethical manner.
"This course will equip staff will specific knowledge to improve their leadership skills and become more effective in retail and customer service.
Dawn Stokoe, Community Liaison Coordinator at John Lewis High Wycombe, said: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to share our skills and expertise in shop keeping and excellence in customer service."
Martin Thornton of The Clare Foundation, a charitable organisation, said he hoped should the course prove successful it may be extended to include other charities. He added: "The Clare Foundation's raison d'être is to help charities work in a more business-like fashion so this project is a natural fit for us."
Picture captions: Dr Rebecca Chandler-Wilde and Dr Lesley Bridges with Martin Thornton of The Clare Foundation; and attendees at the first class of The Retail Academy for the Voluntary Sector.