Researching the retail future
Other training and educational partners include GS1 Ireland, the European Retail Academy, Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, BWG Foods, Dublin Airport Authority, Xtravision and Hickey’s Pharmacies.
The involvement of external partners is extremely important to both the Ryan Centre and the school.
“Industry participation is one of the most important aspects of our work”, says assistant head of school Colin Hughes. “The collaborative design process between the industry and ourselves means we achieve the right balance between academia and pragmatism in our programmes and activities. That can be very helpful. For example, in one case one of our staff members went out on delivery trucks to find out what happens to goods at the store delivery point.
“What we say in the school is that we can bring people from CPD to PhD,” Hughes continues. “There are a lot of great people in the retail sector who have grown up in the industry with no formal qualifications. We give them the opportunity to avail of continuing professional development and to take that on as far as they want right the way through to PhD level if they wish.”
The school also houses the DIT Retail Research Unit which has amassed considerable experience in conducting retailer- client research, consultancy and sectoral competitiveness analysis. Previous work conducted in the unit includes national and European projects involving market sizing, supply-chain competitiveness and managing cultural diversity within retailing in Europe.
The Arthur Ryan Retail Centre provides a conduit for increased interaction between the retail sector and the academic research and teaching being provided by the school. “The centre will identify the information gaps which exist as well as contributing towards retail policy through academic and practical research,” says Jameson. “It will also offer objective and independent research capability to retailers.”
Retail policy is one area of research which will be very significant in the coming years. “We will be looking at how towns and streets are affected by the location of shopping centres and the location of out of town centres,” says Hughes.
“This is one of the hottest topics around at the moment. We hope to be able to assist when legislation is being formed on issues such as store size and the type of products which shops are allowed to deal in. At the very least we will be able to provide objective information which contributes to the debate.”
Other areas of research and teaching will involve fashion buying, supply-chain management, from design through manufacturing and onto the store shelf, new communications technologies, geographic information systems, merchandising and marketing, and a host of other topics of interest to modern retailers.
“We bring together industry representative bodies, retail organisations and international academic partners with the expertise we have developed in the school here in DIT,” says Hughes.
“These partners will feed into specialised commissioned research, international retail analysis, postgraduate research and other activities, which in turn will be the basis for industry facing education to develop future retail employees, open and customised programmes for retail professionals, and regular seminars and industry events. We will also offer scholarships for world-class researchers.”
The Arthur Ryan Retail Centre is currently based at DIT Aungier Street and is planned to move to the new Grangegorman campus in the next five years.