UK sports retail industry overview

The sports retail industry is really big business. Just look at Mike Ashley! This guy started the sports shop Sports Direct, and in 2016 the Sunday Times Rich List estimated his wealth at around £2.43 billion.

In fact, he has made so much money from his sports retail endeavours that he is currently the proud owner of Newcastle United FC (sometimes to the discontent of their supporters), and he has even named the football team’s stadium after his business, ‘ @ St James’ Park Stadium’. Hmmm catchy!

With sports retail companies pulling in this kind of cash, they obviously need a range of dedicated retail staff to work hard and keep on pushing until the final whistle.

Around the UK, tons of people use sporting equipment and wear sports clothes every day. Sportswear is even worn for fashion purposes by certain groups of society, recently being adopted by trendy East London types.

General and specialist sports shops…

Sports shops don’t just sell products for the most popular sports, such as football, netball, cricket and rugby. Many specialist shops provide consumers with niche sportswear and equipment for less popular sports, such as athletics, gymnastics, swimming and racquet sports. The 2012 Olympics truly increased national interest in sports, which boosted Sports Direct’s (sorry to keep going on about them) pre-tax profits by over 20% on the previous year!

What career options do I have in the sports retail industry?

Your career options can be pretty varied when working in this area of retail. For instance, you could work in an independent specialist sports store, a specific brand’s shop (e.g. Niketown), in the sports section of a department store, or for a sports store chain like JJB Sports, which sell a broad range of sportswear and equipment from many different teams and brands.

Understandably, loads of shop floor staff and sales assistants are required to actively sell products, organise displays and shelves, and help customers make the right choices. It’s useful if people who work in these careers have a detailed knowledge of sportswear and sporting equipment, so that they can help to make recommendations to customers and provide equipment demonstrations.

This level of knowledge might not stop at just generally knowing lots about sportswear and equipment. Indeed, staff might be assigned a certain section of the store and be expected to become an expert in that specific area, such as football boots or home fitness training equipment. Staff members in junior roles have the potential to progress into supervisor and store manager positions.

What are the responsibilities of a retail sports buyer?

Not everyone who works in this subsector always works actively on the shop floor. A great career choice in this area of retail is to be a buyer. These guys are in charge of deciding what football shirts, trainers and golf clubs are going to be sold in the shops. They assess market trends, get to know their industry inside out, and always need to stay on the ball (sometimes literally) to make sure that new exciting products are available when they first come out.

For instance, as soon as new Adidas Predator football boots are released, they need to be on the shelves. Otherwise, football mad people might go elsewhere to buy these much coveted boots.

Careers in this area are so much more than weekend and holiday jobs. People who begin in a sports retail role can go on to have long, fruitful careers within sports retail establishments and some might eventually open their own store.

Who knows? You might even be able to afford to buy your own football team soon!

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