Rising Stars: Graduate Accounting Positions in the UK’s Retail Market

Graduate Accounting to Statista, as of August 2022, the value of UK retail sales stood at £36.73 billion – but what is retail?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes retailing as “the selling of goods to the public for use or consumption, rather than for resale.” It includes shops, department stores, supermarkets, market stalls, door-to-door sellers, and web retailers.

Whether you’re looking for a career in a customer-facing part or a head office position, financial accountant this sector offers a wealth of opportunities, from managing day-to-day customer service and generating revenue to impacting trends and making strategic business decisions.

What retail sector can I work in?

Graduate accounting positions opportunities can be found at:

  1. buy
  2. customer service
  3. loss prevention and security
  4. trading and distribution
  5. online retail
  6. Retail Management
  7. negotiate intuitively
  8. warehousing, distribution, logistics, and supply chain. 

You may choose to work in a specific UK retail market  sector, such as:

  1. entertainment
  2. fashion
  3. food
  4. general merchandise
  5. health and beauty
  6. House
  7. sports and hobbies
  8. technology.

With specialist skills and qualifications, you may be able to find work in specific roles such as a jeweler,  optician design originator, or financial accountant.

Head office openings are too accessible within the fund, human assets (HR), promoting, financial accountant, and IT divisions of the UK retail market.

Who are the main employers of graduates?

Clothing retail:

  1. H&M
  2. John Lewis Partnership
  3. Marks & Spencer
  4. New face
  5. Next
  6. Primark
  7. River Island
  8. TJX Europe (includes TK Maxx and HomeSense)
  9. Zara.

Online Shopping:

  1. Amazon
  2. Ao.com
  3. ASOS
  4. Boo Hoo
  5. eBay
  6. Wrong direction
  7. N Brown Group (including Jacamo, JD Williams, and Simply Be)
  8. Mesh for wearing
  9. Shop directly (including Littlewoods.com and Very.co.uk).


  1. Aldi
  2. Asda
  3. Cooperative
  4. Agricultural food
  5. Iceland
  6. Lid
  7. Morrisons
  8. Sainsbury’s
  9. Tesco
  10. Waitrose.

The four greatest retailers within the UK retail market are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Walmart (Asda) and Morrisons, meaning supermarkets dominate the sector.

Graduates may also find opportunities with:

  1. Argos
  2. Boots
  3. Dixons Carphone (including Carphone Warehouse and Currys PC World)
  4. Dunelm
  5. John Lewis
  6. Kingfisher (including B&Q and Screwfix)
  7. Matalán
  8. Signet Group (including Ernest Jones and H Samuel)
  9. Wilko. 

According to the Guardian UK 300  2021/22 survey, the top ten graduate accounting positions are:

  1. Amazon
  2. ASOS
  3. Apple
  4. Aldi
  5. Marks & Spencer
  6. Boots
  7. Asda
  8. Tesco
  9. TJX Europe
  10. Next.

What is it like working in retail?

Graduates entering the UK retail market sector can expect:

  1. Diverse working environment. Work environments may include local retail branches, corporate offices, and distribution warehouses.
  2. The retail sector pays the highest starting salaries for graduates, averaging £30,000. However, some retail employers pay significantly more. For example, Aldi’s Area Management scheme pays £44,000, which gradually increases to £81,415 over five years.
  3. Many roles work in shifts. This can mean working weekends and unsociable hours, as retailers are often open seven days a week – some operating 24 hours a day.
  4. Part-time work and career interruptions. These may be less common in headquarters positions, financial accountants
  5. in high-pressure, fast-paced work environments focused on generating revenue and profit
  6. Benefits such as a company car and health, retirement, and lifestyle packages while working at headquarters. Most UK retail market employees also receive company discounts.

UK Retail Market for Financial Accountants

Today, retail is the largest employer in the UK retail market, outside of the business services and healthcare sectors. The retail sector employs over 3 million people and is growing every year, becoming a significant contributor to the UK economy. From 2013 to 2020, the retail workforce is expected to grow by nearly 55,000 people. Much of this growth is expected to be in management positions, as more qualified managers are sought after due to technology, customer trends, and more complex supply chain management. Now could be the right time to start your graduate career in retail.

In an increasingly competitive market, businesses must constantly compete to provide better customer service, and financial accountant, including online and multi-channel retail. Customers want to combine the personalized service of traditional retail with the convenience of using technology, thereby increasing online orders for delivery or in-store pickup. As a result, there is a demand for graduates with technical skills to produce smartphone applications, for example.


As customers continually demand faster delivery of their online purchases, logistics is becoming increasingly important and is a significant growth area in the industry. There is also a need for graduates who can combine their creative skills with commercial awareness for roles in marketing and purchasing. And graduates with analytical or digital skills for roles in the sales sector. Therefore, retail is a  promising career option for graduates, with a variety of roles available within the industry.

The sector continues to undergo change as more channels to market become available, and the traditional high street environment continues to come under intense pressure. Supermarkets continue to place great importance on their online offering, and companies such as Amazon have completely redesigned the bookshop and music store business. The development of the Internet as a sales tool has greatly influenced the recruitment needs of many retail organizations. Today, there is still a high demand for graduates with a good understanding of the Internet as a sales tool. So, there are plenty of opportunities in web marketing, web analytics, and web sales roles.

Career pathways for retail graduates

Many major retailers offer accelerated graduate accounting positions and management training programs. Providing insight into all departments within the company, these employers allow graduates to ultimately choose which career path to pursue. Programs offer both classroom and on-the-job training,  allowing interns to quickly acquire industry and job-specific knowledge.

Those starting graduate accounting positions in retail can gain experience in purchasing, merchandising, financial accounting, analytical work, logistics, human resources, and marketing (including brand and online marketing). The retail sector can offer a systematic career path, and many graduates can become business leaders and senior executives. There are few careers that allow graduates to take immediate responsibility for their performance and actions, and many successful retail graduate accounting positions achieve management positions after just a few years. Typically, employees begin their careers as assistants, but advancement is rapid and consistent across the industry.

There is currently a huge  demand for graduates to take on roles in the following retail sectors:


Ensuring the supply chain operates efficiently so that products are available in stores when consumers need them. Merchandisers work together with buyers, allocating inventory to different stores by analyzing sales trends and forecasting future demand. They are also responsible for negotiating prices with suppliers and implementing promotional strategies.

Business analysis:

Disseminate large amounts of data to identify industry and market trends as a basis for overall business strategy. Analysts are known as the “eyes and ears” of the organization, studying customer habits and behavioral trends.


Plan and execute retailer’s web and physical marketing strategies. Marketing is a key business differentiator in this industry as the landscape becomes increasingly competitive.


A popular path for new graduates, the buyer position ensures that the retailer has stock to sell to consumers. They identify market trends and predict the forecasts in stores and online channels. They often work with suppliers to fill gaps in the market with new products.

Other opportunities also exist in the customer service sector, loss prevention and security, store manager, intuitive negotiation, IT and technical support, warehousing, distribution, logistics, and supply chain.

Necessary qualifications and skills

What percentage of candidates do we place in graduate careers in retail, and what are the typical qualities graduate employers look for?

Typical candidate attributes

Retail organizations do not set specific requirements on the subject of higher education and often welcome candidates from a  variety of backgrounds for many of their roles. However, a related degree may be preferred for certain roles. For example, a degree in fashion or art. For positions in fashion buying or visual merchandising or in supply chain and logistics, some employers specifically require a degree in logistics. Loading, logistics, or supply chain logistics management. In general, employers are looking for graduates who can demonstrate  on their CV:

Good analytical and digital skills

Common sense and commercial awareness good communication skills organizational skills management skills high street experience at a workshop or shop level creativity, negotiation skills, and strategic thinking.

Willing to work long hours and weekends.

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