A THIRD supermarket chain is sending its staff to enrol on the pioneering Retail Foundation Degree at MMU Business School.
The Southern Co-operative is the latest UK food retailer to offer its employees the opportunity to gain the qualification on a course specially designed for working professionals.
The company – which is based in Hampshire and has 130 community stores across eight counties – is funding 10 places on the course which develops management skills in a retail context.
Southern Cooperative follows Tesco and Lancashire-based Booths, which has 26 stores across the north, in signing up for the programme.
The flexible course allows retail employees to study while working with once-a-term trips to Manchester and a series of work-based assignments designed to develop the core themes of business improvement, customer loyalty and technology.
The Southern Co-operative covers tuition fees and expenses for the two-year course enabling colleagues to study at degree level debt-free.
Rachel Hessom, a student on the Southern Co-operative Horizon Trainee Manager programme, said: "Degree level studies and full-time work are a demanding combination but the Retail Foundation degree is a fantastic opportunity.
"There’s a lot of juggling involved but we receive an immense amount of support from tutors at the university, our work colleagues and other key people within The Southern Co-operative."
Positive for business
Scott Taviner, the company’s Head of Operational Performance, said: "This is a great opportunity for employees committed to a career in retail to develop their skills and knowledge while continuing to earn a competitive salary.
"We hope that their increased knowledge in the retail sector will filter through the company and have a positive, wide-ranging effect on the business as a whole."