What's new for the 90th OSS Academy?

OSS Academy 2019 | 17th – 23rd August | Keble College, Oxford

With an overall satisfaction rating of 96% in 2018 it is very tempting to leave things well alone when reviewing the Academy Programme content for 2019. As the old adage goes…if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! 

However, one of the major reasons that the OSS Retail Academy continues to maintain its position as the retail industry’s leading training and development programme is that the content constantly adapts and evolves to match the ever-changing nature of our market. 

The programme content never really stands still. Whilst continuing to focus on the five key retail resources of People, Merchandise, Money, Marketing and Retail Channels, it is the content of each of these days that ensures that the programme meets the needs and expectations of our customers. 

Our week starts with our People day and at the heart of the day is the McQuaig Psychometric System, a world renowned psychometric tool which was somewhat of a trailblazer having been in use now for well over 40 years. With expert guidance from Paul Anderson Walsh, Linbert Spencer and Sajjad Iqbal from The Centre for Inclusive Leadership, delegates are exposed to learning designed to build their personal effectiveness as an individual and a leader by examining ways of developing their ability, character and temperament. The learning doesn't just take place at Keble. The content of the day is also designed to encourage delegates to revisit their self analysis after the Academy and set personal goals which they can review with their line manager back in the work place. 

Our Merchandise day concentrates on highlighting the key components required to enable retail businesses to plan commercially and trade profitability. Looking at both the ‘buy side’ and the ‘sell side’ of the retail value chain the content of the exercise has been significantly revised in recent years. Delivered by Glenn Regan, a vastly experienced merchandiser with Disney and John Lewis, the learning from the day resonates with delegates from independent retailers as well as the larger retail multiples and corporates. 

The Financial Management day is focused on helping delegates to identify and influence the key financial levers within a retail business, additional exercises have been introduced to help the retail leaders of tomorrow understand how their business is performing relative to others in the sector as well analysing and interpreting wider market financial data. The day is led by Dave Meckin, a chartered accountant by trade and a long established and highly successful financial consultant. Dave has an exceptional ability to deliver what most delegates see as the probably the most daunting day of the week in such a way that the learning is almost tangible. 

The Marketing day is focused on the importance of branding and building brand value, providing our delegates with an insight into the development of retail brands and the emotional engagement that brands create with customers. Completely redesigned in 2015 and 2018, our day owners Helen Edwards and Sarah Hillas of PassionBrand Progress work with many leading retailers on developing their brand strategies. Delegates are encouraged to understand how brands should be communicated effectively in the tech savvy and social media led world that we all trade in as well as its' practical execution back in the workplace so that they may be able to influence the development of their company's marketing strategy in the future. 

The Omnichannel Exercise is the culmination of the week and seeks to draw together the learnings from the week into a single business exercise which challenges and stretches the delegates to create a retail trading model which is fit to meet today’s consumer demands. Our delegates are set a task of creating a five year business plan for a major new retail business maximising trading potential across the plethora of retail channels to market. Facilitated by senior managers from John Lewis Department Stores the exercise covers business strategy and offer, merchandise mix, financial planning and P&L, people culture and staffing as well as competitive market positioning and of course, branding. The day also focuses heavily on the importance of developing effective retail channels to market by blending an omnichannel approach to maximise customer acquisition, retention and profitability. 

For companies that have not yet experienced the Academy programme I would highlight three key reasons why they should consider sending delegates: 

1) The Academy is attended by over 150 delegates from more than 70 leading UK and overseas retail businesses. It represents a fabulous opportunity for delegates to network with and glean knowledge from fellow retail professionals representing a huge range of retail businesses and apply that learning to their own business. 

2)  Great managers do not necessarily make great leaders and the primary focus of the Academy is to provide individuals with the attitudinal provocation to develop their leadership capabilities. This is not only delivered through the programme content but by the vast number of leadership role models that attend the Academy throughout the week whether they be Group Directors or evening speakers. 

3) People never forget who it was that sent them to the Academy as a delegate. The personal development that individuals gain from the programme provides them with a huge sense of clarity, purpose and direction. They return to their companies with enormous enthusiasm and apply all of this back at work for the benefit of themselves and the organisation which had the foresight to recognise their potential. 

For businesses that have sent delegates to the Academy in the past there are three significant enhancements to the 2019 programme to go alongside the thorough content refresh that we always apply: 

1) In 2019 we are introducing a focus on Wellbeing and this theme will be a significant part of our People day as well as being at the core of the programme throughout the week. 

2) The content and scope of our Merchandising day is being expanded to incorporate a closer examination of the buy side of the retail value chain. Understanding the vital importance of planning international supply routes and the commercial sensitivities that the supply chain creates for the business. 

3) With one in five retail purchases now online, the impact of social media and online retailing have an ever growing influence on our businesses. Our Omnichannel Exercise has been further enhanced to take this and the increasingly important activity of Generation Z into account. 

I look forward to welcoming your delegates to the Academy Programme 17th – 23rd August 2019. Should you require any further information please contact Terry Lees, Head of Residential Programmes on 0121 446 66 88 / 07595 928 721 / terry@ossretail.co.uk.

 Academy Programme Director – Steve Connell

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Click here to download our 2018 prospectus

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