Dearth of designers to meet retail demand

The current boom in retail design work, coupled with a lack of specialisation during the recession, has created a shortage of retail designers, say directors from leading retail consultancies.

A number of retail specialists, including 20/20, Dalziel & Pow, Crabtree Hall/Plan Créatif and Section D are finding the right candidates difficult to pin down.

Many consultancies are making space for the right people even if they don’t have specific vacancies.

The shortage runs across all experience levels. Retail consultant Paul Wood of recruitment agency Management Personnel says there is an evident shortage of junior to middleweight retail designers. “We spoke to seven or eight consultancies about one recent candidate. They all wanted to see him, whether they had vacancies or not,” he says.

Dalziel & Pow managing director David Dalziel agrees: “We are finding that the middleweights with retail experience are tricky to find.” He says the lack of specialisation during the recession, because retailers were reluctant to spend on design, is to blame for the lack of experience. “We have had to employ from other sectors, such as leisure, and then train people here,” he adds.

Section D director Alan Graham says the Harrogate consultancy had a good response in a recent search for freelance staff, but still finds it difficult to recruit people with a “holistic view” of retail design.

20/20 project director Simon Stacey has had trouble recruiting at the lower end of the senior scale. He says he is constantly on the lookout for staff and welcomes calls from retail designers.

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