City College Norwich to open UK’s first complete retail training suite


Theo Paphitis opens the RETAIL training centre at City College Norwich

Theo Paphitis opens the RETAIL training centre at City College Norwich

City College Norwich is claiming a UK market first with the launch of its new RETAIL training suite.

The official opening takes place on 17 April 2012 and will complete the final phase of the RETAIL skills academy at City College Norwich, part of the National Skills Academy for Retail’s nationwide network of skills shops, which is claimed to be the only such centre in the county to combine:

  • A live trading environment – eg, a buy and sell fashion boutique, provides students with a live trading environment in which to learn, develop and showcase their retail skills
  • RETAIL advice centre, providing information and advice for individuals seeking to develop careers in retail, and for retailers wanting to enhance their businesses
  • RETAIL training suite, a state of the art facility offering award-winning training in all aspects of retail

The new RETAIL training suite features: mobile counters with touch screen tills, cash drawers and bar code scanners; the latest EPOS system; record and play back facilities for training using role play; and three full height windows with a selection of lighting, plus mannequins, shelving and props, for visual merchandising. 

Retailers and students using the new facility will also have access to PCs and laptops with software for store design and planograms, a flexible training space with dividers to create smaller spaces, break-out areas or fitting rooms, and conference facilities with seating for up to 85 delegates.      

According to City College Norwich, the RETAIL training suite will promote excellence in all aspects of retail, with training delivered by the award-winning RETAIL skills academy team at the college. 

In October the team was presented with a national award by retail guru Mary Portas for the level of support provided to local independent retailers.  

The RETAIL skills academy offers retailers bespoke advice and training to meet the needs of their business, as well as delivering a suite of one-day courses covering areas such as selling through styling, selling through service, visual merchandising, opening a pop-up shop, marketing for retail, buying for retail, setting up online and effective performance management.

More in-depth training with the RETAIL skills academy is available through the exciting new online Foundation Degree in Retailing. This flexible two-year programme, developed in partnership with a wide range of retail businesses, comprises a series of practical, work-related modules that are focused on developing retailers’ careers at management level. 

The full opening of the RETAIL skills academy, whose board members include some of the leading retail names in the host city, will help to further boost the standing of Norwich as one of the UK’s leading retail cities.  

Voted the ninth best place to shop in the UK, Norwich is said to be a dynamic and exciting centre for retail – it is the 10th largest in the UK, with five department stores, two major shopping centres, the biggest six-day market in England and more small and independent retailers than most cities.   

The conversion of former storage units within the Chapelfield shopping centre to create the state of the art RETAIL training suite was achieved at a cost of £224,000, with funding coming from the government’s Skills Funding Agency.   

Sue Dougal, head of the RETAIL skills academy said: “Norwich is a leading city for retail and a fantastic place to begin or progress your career in this exciting and rewarding sector. The RETAIL skills academy, working closely with businesses, is immensely proud to offer the UK’s first complete retail training experience, bringing together a live trading environment, an impressive new RETAIL training suite, and our RETAIL advice centre.”  

Dick Palmer, principal, City College Norwich, said: “Through the specialist training facilities we have at the RETAIL skills academy at City College Norwich, we want to support the future growth and development of retail in Norwich and the surrounding areas. This will help to support businesses in this vital sector for our local economy, opening up attractive career opportunities for our students, whilst helping to keep Norwich as one of the UK’s top cities for shopping.”