Convenience chain Bells Stores has something of a reputation for developing its staff. It was the first UK organisation to be awarded Grade One status for retail from the government’s Adult Learning Inspectorate.

The convenience chain has largely won its name for skills building due to the strength of its 12-strong training division, Bells Training Services.

Many team members were previously managers, selected because of their experience in the training and development needs of a retail business.

BTS chief executive Sheila Gibbin says the group designs and implements structured career development programmes which staff in its 52 north-east England stores follow from day one. “Bells Training Services is instrumental in placing young people into the business via modern apprenticeships. It also delivers NVQ and certified programmes to other staff.”

But the team doesn’t stop at managing training for its own stores says Gibbins: “On behalf of the Learning and Skills Council, BTS delivers government funded work-based learning programmes in retail, warehousing and customer service to businesses in the Tees Valley.”

One of its latest initiatives is an NVQ Level 2 retail programme for people not normally engaged in gaining qualifications. The scheme is being run in conjunction with Skillsmart - the Sector Skills Council for the retail industry - and Coventry’s Learning and Skills Council.
Leaving the corner shop image behind