Retail Academy John Lewis


Date: 16th May 2016

Shop managers and staff at charities Willen Hospice and Rennie Grove Hospice Care have spent two days at John Lewis High Wycombe as part of a six-month course designed to expand their business knowledge and skills.

The Retail Academy for the Voluntary Sector, developed by Bucks New University, The Clare Foundation and John Lewis High Wycombe, is aimed at ensuring shops belonging to the charities are as effective as possible, and focuses on aspects including leadership skills, managing volunteers, and visual merchandising.

The latest part focused on merchandising and customer service, with course attendees learning about all areas of the discipline with Dee Siberini, Visual Merchandising Partner, Ollie Kerner, Section Manager at John Lewis High Wycombe, and colleague Kate Knights, a Sales Assistant.

Dawn Stokoe, Community Liaison Coordinator at John Lewis High Wycombe, said: "We were delighted to have the opportunity to share our expertise in merchandising and customer service with an enthusiastic and responsive group of shop managers and staff from Willen Hospice and Rennie Grove Hospice Care."

Claire Fazekas, Manager of Rennie Grove's Tring shop and bookshop, in Hertfordshire, said: "We enjoyed learning about the colour wheel and the colours which go together.

"John Lewis did a really good job in adapting their customer service training to make it applicable to our charity shops.

"It was great to see that, whether you are serving a customer in John Lewis or Rennie Grove, it's all about interacting with the customer, finding out how you can help them and making sure the customer has a great experience in your shop and hopefully ends up purchasing lots of things!"

Rennie Grove's 24 shops and other retail initiatives are tasked with bringing in over £2 million every year towards the charity's unique 24/7 responsive nursing service in patients' homes.

Marilyn David, Practice Development Manager at Willen Hospice, said staff and volunteers had enjoyed learning alongside counterparts from another charity.

She added: "It is important for our staff to expand their knowledge and skills in retail and management as it helps to develop the organisation for the future."

The Voluntary Academy for the Retail Sector is funded by Health Education Thames Valley and supports work in the private, voluntary and independent sectors.

For more details on becoming involved with The Retail Academy for the Voluntary Sector email Dr Rebecca Chandler-Wilde of Bucks New University at

Picture captions: Course attendees on the Retail Academy for the Voluntary Sector at John Lewis High Wycombe.


  • Our University