Manchester Metropolitan University

News story

It’s never too late to learn

Award for Business School scheme

A SCHEME developed by a Manchester-based group has won a prestigious award after helping to develop the skills of local people working in small shops.

The Retail Academy was created by the Retail Enterprise Network – a partnership based at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School which serves to protect the notoriously vulnerable small retail sector.

It has landed the ‘Opening Doors to Adult Learners’ award as part of Adult Learners Week, the UK’s largest annual celebration of education and learning, which this year is running 20-26 May.

Interactive learning

By working with companies such as Parfett’s wholesalers in Stockport, who supply goods to small shops across the North West, the Retail Academy delivers both accredited and unaccredited learning via new, interactive technologies, enabling those working in the small retail sector to receive not only informal advice but also achieve practical, retail-specific qualifications.

Ojay McDonald, Communications Co-ordinator of the Retail Enterprise Network, said: "The UK’s retail sector employs almost 3 million people and faces a real skills shortage. Many retailers possess neither qualifications nor defined career goals and work in a sector renowned for its lack of skills development and training. This commonly results in a lack of self-esteem.

UK first

"While there has been support in the past for small retailers, it has concentrated purely on informal advice. The Retail Academy has changed this by becoming the first body to offer all-encompassing support through qualifications tailored specifically to small retailers’ needs. Last year alone, 1,200 retailers were enrolled on our programmes."

Rachel Thomson, Senior Campaigns Offer at NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education), organisers of Adult Learners Week, said: "Organisations like the Retail Academy are providing more, and different, opportunities for adults to learn and sparking enthusiasm that can lead to whole new lives for learners and benefit entire communities."


For further editorial information please contact David Boxer at Communications Management on 01727 737988, or email

To contact the Retail Academy please call Dawn Richie on 01904 658856 or email

To contact NIACE, please call Ed Melia on 0116 2044248 or 07795 358870

Notes to editors:

About the Retail Academy
The Retail Academy brings retailers together with learning providers, trade associations, suppliers, awarding bodies, colleges, universities and the Sector Skills Council for Retail, to provide a suite of increasingly necessary business support which meets the needs of smaller businesses in particular. The Retail Academy originated from the Retail Enterprise Network before becoming a limited company in 2004.

Supported by the European Social Fund, the Retail Academy provides all the support at a nominal cost or free of charge. For more information visit

About the Retail Enterprise Network
The Retail Enterprise Network (REN) is committed to protecting and promoting diversity in the small retail sector and in-town retailing. This diversity is currently under threat from changing consumer habits, the growth of multiples, a high business failure rate, and the lack of ‘strategic direction’ inherent in the sector.

REN is an academic enterprise unit based at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. REN are academic advisors to the All Party Small Shops Group, and in February 2006 published the high-profile report, ‘High Street Britain 2015’. For more information visit

About Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
MMUBS is one of the largest business schools in the UK, with 3,000 undergraduates and 1,500 postgraduates. As well as offering degrees in all major sub-disciplines of business and management, the School engages in applied research and provides in-house courses and consultancy services for corporate clients. For more information visit

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