Monumental year for OSS Retail

OSS Retail has been transforming careers since 1923 however last year will go down as one of the biggest in our history.

Beginning with OSS Masters

The year began as we welcomed top Senior Managers, Directors and Business Owners to Saïd Business School for our strategic leadership programme – OSS Masters.

The Masters Programme allows delegates to look beyond the day-to-day challenges of running an organisation and to tackle key strategic retail issues.

We provided delegates with 4 days of collaboration, discussion and strategic learning with the unique opportunity to work alongside their peers to tackle key issues. Key issues including the challenges of the future retail landscape, how to successfully position and lead your business in an evolving world and how to develop and exploit innovation and agility.

Through the programme we also gave delegates full access to 21 industry leading experts so that they may benefit from their experience and expertise.

Experts included

  • Rohit Kumar – Solution Architect at Alibaba Cloud
  • Dr Christian Verschueren – Director General at EuroCommerce
  • Kyle Rowe – Managing Director at Grenade®
  • Gill Palfrey-Hill – Director of People Development & Talent at Specsavers
  • Mark Wright – Global Operations Director at FatFace
  • Chris Brook-Carter – Managing Director at Retail Week
  • Tom Ironside – Director at BRC
  • Philippa Nibbs – Regional Controller at Primark

For this year’s programme (24th – 27th February) we’re adapting the programme to include:

  • Creating a professional network – learning cohorts will build relationships, set objectives and expectations, in advance of the residential workshop, providing a greater opportunity to share business insights and expertise whilst forming new personal networks.Understanding of the future retail landscape – OSS Masters understanding the market and what that means for their business with new sessions on:
    • Driving Disruptive Growth
    • Leading in an uncertain world
    • Demystifying Data Analytics
  • Exploring innovation – through discussion, challenges & debates with industry experts, delegates will develop a keen sense of which people strategies and technological innovations to back and how to implement them successfully.
  • Turning ideas into action – greater emphasis and focus on transference back to the workplace with personal, 1:1 and small group access to experts to help turn ideas and thinking into practical actions, aided by a session on “Landing your Proposition”.

New partner, new programme – Digital Transformation

Following the OSS Masters, we turned our attention to the launch of our partnership with McCann Worldgroup, a global marketing communications agency spanning 300 cities across 125 countries. Together we created and launched Digital Transformation, a two-day specialist programme that provided retailers with the practical tools to anticipate digital trends, understand consumer behaviour and develop a customer journey which maximises sales and increases loyalty.

Digital Transformation helped retailers anticipate digital trends and understand consumer behaviour in order to deliver a customer journey that maximises sales and increases loyalty.

Partnering with McCann Worldgroup enabled to us to share the latest insights including those from world trade shows such as CES, Las Vegas, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and SXSW in Austin, Texas about the upcoming digital trends. Equally there was plenty of excitement about hosting the programme at the offices of McCann Manchester, the home of some the UK’s most innovative and exciting retail brands.

During the highly participative two-day programme we covered:

  • The vision and purpose for digital in the retail landscape and your organisation
  • Awareness of current digital trends
  • Interpreting consumer behaviour & trends
  • Empowering people to think differently
  • Creating the conditions to experiment and be creative
  • How to enable managers to work effectively across functions to deliver a high quality and consistent multi-channel experience for customers
  • Persuading & influencing stakeholders
  • How to make the right decisions in a fast-changing environment

A New Horizon – Acquisition by BRC

Shortly after Digital Transformation we were thrilled to announce that OSS Retail, formerly known as Oxford Summer School had been acquired by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) as part of their Better Jobs campaign and the ongoing commitment to repositioning ‘Retail as a Career of Choice’.

With the reputational strength and reach of the BRC combined with the training expertise and industry support of OSS Retail we knew that the future would be bright and that together we could create some extraordinary development opportunities for retail. Now as part of BRC Learning we strive to be the ‘go to place for learning and development in retail’.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC said “This is an exciting time for the industry as it responds to the changing retail landscape. With technology changing the way consumers shop, it is essential we invest in the people who will facilitate the future successes of the industry.

“Recently, our BRC Learning division has launched two new apprenticeships into the market and launched Rethink Retail, our new careers guidance website. Working with OSS Retail will allow us to further build on our careers and development offering, for the benefit of our members and the wider industry.”

Dominic Prendergast, Managing Director of OSS Retail said “We are delighted to have joined the BRC who will enable us to continue our growth plans and target a wider customer base. This demonstrates our commitment to continue developing our customers talent at the same time underpinning Retail as a career of choice.”

“This collaboration allows us to build upon our 90 years of heritage and to continue proudly serving our sector by developing the future Retail Leaders of tomorrow.”

From Outstanding Retail Manager to Outstanding Retail Leader – OSS Foundation

Next, we arrived at St. Hugh’s College, ready to welcome leading Graduate Managers in Retail Operations & Head Office Functions, Department Managers and Store Managers from across the UK and internationally to St. Hugh’s College for OSS Foundation.

The aim of the Foundation Programme is to develop the delegates understanding of their role as team leaders and the positive impact this can have on their business.

The aim of the Foundation programme is to develop the delegates understanding of their role as team leaders and the positive impact this can have on their business. By enhancing the vital skills necessary to successfully lead a team we build the delegates confidence as retail managers.

For this, our 8th OSS Foundation Programme, we increased the spotlight on wellbeing in the workplace following a successful introduction the previous year. We also enhanced the focus on adaptability and change management as the retail landscape evolves day-by-day.

We were also delighted to welcome Paula Nickolds, Managing Director of John Lewis & Partners, Mark Axon, Retail Director at New Look as our keynote speakers. We also welcomed back Andrew Marrins, L&D Manager at BrewDog, Nick Booth, Owner at SeventhWave and Andrea Woodside, Wellbeing Consultant at retailTRUST to host specific sessions during the days.

For this year’s programme (29th June – 3rd July) we’re evolving the programme to include:

  • A journey of self-discovery and development – the OSS Foundation is more than just a week at St. Hugh’s. The programme launches the delegates journey of development self-discovery and provides them with a network of like-minded retailers that will inspire and support their career.
  • Developing the skills of exceptional leaders – the programme develops the vital skills required to successfully lead a team such as coaching and influencing, managing change, the importance resilience and adaptability and how the delegates can build a positive people culture.
  • Enhancing career performance – builds the delegates confidence as retail managers and outlines the positive impact they can have on their business. During the week delegates create an action plan to apply their learning and generate improved personal and business performance when they return to work.

The Grand Finale – The 90th OSS Academy

Our year was then capped by a VERY special occasion – the 90th OSS Academy! It was an extraordinary cause for celebration as for the first time under the new ownership, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC opened the programme on Saturday 17th August 2019.

OSS Academy 2019 | OSS Retail
Since 1923 OSS Retail has transformed the careers of over 20,000 delegates.

The OSS Academy first opened its doors on 16th August 1923 (then titled Summer School of the Drapers Chamber of Trade) following concerns from members that talented leaders were being lost to other industries such as manufacturing, construction and finance. In order to protect and strengthen the retail industry they sought to create the highest quality development programme for the most talented leaders.

To ensure its strength the Chamber enlisted the support of top retail leaders and industry speakers to help shape the programme and create a unique opportunity developed by retailers for retailers.

This focus has remained true and for our 90th year we welcomed Jason Cotta – Chief Executive Officer at Ole & Steen (formerly Managing Director – International EMEA at Costa), Tim Danaher – Partner at Brunswick, Katharine Ghela – Head of Organisation Change at John Lewis & Partners, plus an interactive Q&A with two former delegates, Terry Betts and Laura Keir who are now senior leaders at pure play retailers Thread and The Protein Works™ respectively.

The aim of the OSS Academy is to challenge talented retail leaders to drive their own performance and improve the performance of their teams. Through a mix of inspiration and challenge the intensive 7-day residential enhanced the delegate’s understanding and leadership of five key retail themes: People, Finance, Merchandise, Brand and Retail Channels. Delegates can then use this knowledge to drive the commercial performance of their part of the business.

For the 90th anniversary we also revolutionised the infamous ‘business exercise’ into a brand new ‘omnichannel exercise’. This required delegates to produce a complete business strategy for a new retail business which will include a brand and customer proposition, profitable merchandise plans, a people and wellbeing strategy and finally a 5 year Financial proposal…..all in 8 hours!

For the 91st OSS Academy (22nd – 28th August) we’ll be:

  • Driving individual and business performance – challenging talented retail leaders to both drive their own performance and improve the performance of their teams. Through both inspiration and challenge the programme enhances the delegates understanding of people leadership & wellbeing, finance, trading, merchandising, brand & marketing and the customer proposition. For 2020 we’re also developing the delegates understanding of the supply chain, transformational leadership.
  • Collaboration with like-minded talented retailers – creating a great learning environment for delegates to test their skills and knowledge without fear. Learning groups are carefully curated using the latest psychometric analysis. These groups are coached and facilitated by senior retail leaders to encourage debate, collaborate and share their own experiences so delegates may learn together and from one another.
  • Recognising your potential – the unique blend of challenges, debates, collaborative working and inspirational speakers ensures delegates unlock their potential and return to their roles with the confidence to make the difference.

If you’d like to discuss how OSS Retail can support your Learning & Development programmes please contact Terry Lees on 07595 928721 or terry.lees@brc.org.uk. Delegates places are selling fast so get in touch today to avoid disappointment.