Retail Sector

Working with retailers of all sizes, we deliver strategic consultancy and managed services in support of high-impact talent planning, management and development.

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Retail sector expertise

As employer solutions lawyers, we help ensure our clients’ HR, immigration and global mobility programmes are both fully compliant with their legal obligations and effective in supporting the organisation’s people-led business objectives.

We have extensive experience within UK retail and are fully immersed in the organisational, talent, human resource and mobility challenges facing business leaders and HR in this industry.


Employer solutions for UK retail

We help retail sector employers:

  • Mobilise highly skilled, specialist talent across the globe
  • Streamline people processes across the employee lifecycle
  • Manage emergency visa applications
  • Improve the recruitment and retention of high-calibre staff
  • Develop progressive reward and bonus schemes
  • Meet employment, immigration compliance and right to work obligations
  • Enhance internal support functions through training and professional development programmes

Talent mobility & management challenges in UK retail

The UK’s retail landscape faces a growing challenge in staffing shortages.

While factors like online shopping and changing consumer habits play a role, a significant obstacle lies in the increasingly restrictive UK immigration system. This, combined with the unique needs of the retail sector, risks the industry’s stability and growth.

Vacancies across the UK retail sector currently soar around 120,000, representing roughly 7% of total positions. This shortage manifests in longer waiting times, reduced in-store services, and even store closures. These consequences not only impact consumer experience but also hinder economic growth and contribute to unemployment anxieties.

The retail sector has long relied on immigrant workers to fill various roles. From experienced salespeople to warehouse operatives and delivery drivers, international talent plays a crucial role in keeping the industry afloat. This is partly due to the sector’s specific characteristics.

Many retail positions offer wages below the national living wage, making them unattractive to domestic workers seeking secure careers, while shift work and limited hours can deter potential applicants seeking stable working conditions.

Retail also often requires on-the-job training, making it accessible to workers with diverse skillsets and language abilities.

For these reasons, immigration has historically been a vital source of workers for the retail sector, filling essential roles and ensuring smooth operations.

However, changes in UK immigration policy have destabilised the sector’s established recruitment practices. 

The points-based system for work visas makes it expensive and cumbersome for retailers to sponsor foreign workers, especially for lower-skilled positions.

The SOL, which lists professions facing skills shortages, does not adequately reflect the needs of the retail sector. Many critical roles, such as cashiers and shelf stackers, are excluded, limiting the pool of eligible candidates.

Post-Brexit uncertainty and the long-term impact on visa options and mobility for EU workers has further compounded the recruitment challenges.

These immigration hurdles contribute to the retail sector’s chronic understaffing, with detrimental consequences. Unfilled positions limit customer service, store hours, and operational efficiency, leading to reduced sales and profitability. Existing staff face heavier workloads and longer hours, potentially impacting morale and service quality.

Frequent staff shortages can also create a negative perception of the retail sector, making it less attractive to both workers and consumers.

Ultimately, a thriving retail sector relies not only on consumer trends and economic conditions but also on a diverse and accessible workforce underpinned by a sensible and responsive immigration system.

We work with employers in retail to navigate the rules in support of meeting talent needs. 



UK immigration services for retail businesses

Our team of leading UK immigration solicitors help retail companies with all aspects of their UK immigration needs.

Through our strategic advice and managed migration services, we operate in support of inhouse HR teams or on a fully outsourced basis to ensure you operate competitively and in full compliance when employing overseas workers. Clients benefit from access to our immigration solicitors via a dedicated telephone support line, available weekdays from 8.30am – 6.00pm.



Employment law services for retailers

Our employment lawyers works with employers of all sizes to provide ongoing employment law advice, representation and strategic risk management guidance.

We offer specialist, fixed fee employment law services including access to unlimited telephone advice.


HR support for retail

Our team of highly experienced HR consultants support retail sector employers to improve the performance of their HR function and enhance the overall impact of HR projects.

We combine deep industry knowledge with technical expertise to help employers in the tech sector drive commercial performance through a transformative approach to human resource planning, management and development.


Global mobility services for retailers

We help ensure our retail sector clients’ global mobility programmes are both fully compliant with immigration requirements and effective in supporting commercial operations. 

We understand the challenges involved in managing a global workforce and provide expert guidance to help reduce risk while deriving maximum value and return from mobility programmes.

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