Retail Trust: The background…
During our 179 year history, independent retailers have always been important to Retail Trust. Our original name; The Drapers’, Silk Mercers’, Lacemens’, Haberdashers’ and Hosiers’ Institution (snappy title heh?) gives you some idea of who our original founding fathers were.
For the first 55 years from the charity’s formation the Institution received a total of £197,247 and 18 shillings. The large part of that money going to the assistance of “Members, Widows and Orphans”.
As the 19th century drew to a close, the Institution was supported by the greatest merchants who served the new consumer class with the fine emporia that became our modern department stores. This was the beginning of the charity’s very close links with the department store and independent sector. In many cases the original names have disappeared through mergers; some live on still.
Our first retirement estate in Mill Hill in North West London opened in 1897 and we were renamed Cottage Homes soon after. I am delighted to say that many retirees from the independent store sector live on one of fabulous retirement estates that now number five. They are in Glasgow, Salford, Liverpool, Derby and Mill Hill. The cottages on our estates are decorated with plaques celebrating the generous donations from many independent retailers.
There have been huge changes both on the High Street and within our charity since our foundation all those years ago.
The two biggest changes Retail Trust has made over the past few years are:
- Our shift from providing just housing for retirees from our industry to working in partnership with retailers to provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
- Expanding our remit from what was primarily the “drapery” trade to covering all aspect of retail including grocery, DIY and jewellery etc.
We are a listening ear for our industry’s staff on any issue, either work related of personal. Our Helpline advisors listen and we signpost people to get the best help. We are the retail’s staff safety net when they don’t know where to turn.
We provide free counselling, free legal advice, course funding as well as a ReWork programme for individuals who are under the threat of redundancy. In addition, in certain situations retail employees may qualify for a hardship grant.
Retail Trust’s slogan of “looking after all people in retail” embraces every sector of our industry from the mightiest multiple to the most local independent.
As we evolve and improve our services it is essential people in our industry understand that we are not only here for the big corporates. In fact, it is the independent retailers, who don’t have access to corporate HR departments, who can get great benefit from our services.
After all it was the independent retailers who had the foresight, passion and commitment to set Retail Trust up in the first place. The least we can do is support our independent retailers and their teams.
This blog was written by Nigel J L Rothband, CEO of Retail Trust.