While managers' basic pay across the range of formats may not have risen greatly ­ an average of 5% in most cases ­ bigger bonuses and incentives have swollen pay packets. Including these performance-related bonuses means hypermarket managers collecting six-figure salaries are not uncommon while many are on a basic wage of up to £65,000. Superstore managers can expect to pull in up to £55,000 and even CTN managers have found their wages rise in the last year ­ up to £20,000. A Retail Human Resources survey (taken from a sample of what is believed to be the largest retail database in Europe) finds that staff in the food sector take home more than their colleagues in the fashion and non food sector across every format. Jonathan Briggs, divisional controller for Retail Human Resources' retail operations, reckons that although salaries are slow to increase, the opportunities are greater. Salaries aren't going up, but bonuses are, he says. "It's a better situation than it was 10 years ago, but there's still a bit of work to do to make it more attractive. "Some companies, like Asda/Wal-Mart and Safeway, pay 100% bonuses which is very attractive to people, while Asda can pay 75% of salary in share options." Great bonuses are particularly common in the hypermarket sector and because there are more stores of this size opening up, there are more of these opportunities. Briggs says the level of responsibility you get in the food retail sector is much greater than in comparable industries such as fashion and DIY; a big food store with 800 staff and 20 managers can take £100m, whereas a fashion store would be lucky to see £12m. And because the chains are bigger, salaries are generally better in food. There are also increasingly excellent promotion opportunities in food retail chains ­ there's always a better job in a bigger store you can move up to ­ which is a good selling point. But this is tempered by the speed you can progress ­ it's quicker to get noticed and promoted in a fashion chain than in the huge megalithic food retailers. Briggs says that there's most movement in food retail simply because of the sheer number of stores, and that movement between chains and within them is consistent. He believes that in the future there will be both upward pressure on salaries as well as downward, as more people come into the sector ­ RHR is forecasting an extra 33,700 full-time jobs among food retailers in 2002 with 8.3% employment growth, greater than the sector average. The sector will become even more incentive-orientated with more opportunities to earn in different ways. Indeed, retail is seen as an attractive career, because there are such stringent educational requirements and high-flyers can work their way up more easily. As head offices give more autonomy to stores, retail chains are looking for three essential qualities in new recruits nowadays: customer service skills; commercial skills ­ someone with a handle on profit and loss; and the ability to manage large teams of people. Management isn't about old-style dictation, however. It's more about working with people. "Working in retail is attractive for someone that wants to get on and they will be rewarded well," says Briggs. But according to RHR's research, salary isn't the biggest motivator, it's job satisfaction and perks. And that's something which can send retailers scurrying to the relative tranquility of the fmcg sector. It's not uncommon for people having worked in retail for 15 years to decide the hours are too unsociable and to defect to the "opposition", especially with the prevalence of 24-hour opening. Even if the salaries aren't as high, managers will opt for a better quality of life and a cut in pay. However, the higher up the pecking order you get, the fewer unsociable hours you do ­ you wouldn't get a hypermarket store manager frequently doing a Sunday afternoon shift followed by an all-nighter on Monday. The fmcg sector might seem attractive and, according to our salary survey (The Grocer, January 19), a sales director can pick up a £77,000 salary, while a national account manager is on £51,000 and a regional sales manager £34,800. But most sales salaries have been frozen since the start of the year, says Pursuit NHA. Wages have been suppressed due to fears of a downturn in the market and consultant Ben Ballard reckons most people are staying put rather than risk moving in a climate of uncertainty. However, some fmcg employees are dishing out selective pay rises for staff on merit. Added to this, more companies are moving towards offering flexible compensation and benefits packages for all levels. Ballard believes candidates are driven more by career progression than increases in salary. "Salespeople in fmcg aren't particularly looking for more money, they want to move to a better quality of life. People are reluctant to do very long hours." Ballard agrees that it's not uncommon for retailers to move into a sales environment where they are increasingly welcomed for their knowledge of category management and customer needs. He says that despite widespread broadcast, people are only now waking up to the financial implications of the new rules affecting company car taxation. As a result they are demanding car allowances, and companies are responding accordingly. "The fmcg sector used to provide lots of perks for staff such as big cars, with retail only providing a fixed salary with few opportunities to earn bonuses. Now however, benefits packages are aligning themselves and employers recognise they need to be more flexible," said Ballard. n {{FEATURES }}