The recruitment of retail talent in the fashion sector is heading into a state of crisis, as increasing numbers of fashion professionals are taking overseas job opportunities. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit, alongside job insecurities, are making top fashion candidates far more likely to accept overseas roles, in countries like Canada, the United States, Germany, and Asia.

Why are top retail fashion executives quitting the UK?

The uninspiring state of fashion retailing in the UK has encouraged an entire raft of top fashion talent to consider looking for work overseas and relocating. Frequent head office restructures in UK fashion retailing and the possibility of redundancies have been guiding factors in forcing this change of attitude. Any belief that the fashion world centres around London have changed within the sector as increasing numbers of executives eye up the potential overseas.

Salaries for similar roles in the United States and Canada are far higher, where fashion design is considered an extremely important aspect of the retail sector and taken seriously. Finding opportunities at similar levels in the UK can be far more difficult. Whereas retail fashion design teams in the UK are fairly small and close-knit, with around a dozen team members, in the United States fashion design teams often number 36 individuals, creating a more vibrant appeal for executives.

Many UK retailers are holding off on recruiting into fashion executive roles at this moment, as they take a step back to consider all the ramifications of Brexit. Poor financial results from UK fashion retailers are another reason for fashion talent considering the option of working overseas. Retailers like Marks and Spencers and Next no longer have the same attraction for young design executives looking to further their careers. This is not helped by the ongoing sales decline in fashion sales across the womenswear market, which is showing no signs of abatement.

Fashion candidates see the globalisation of fashion retailing offers greater opportunity for career progression. With ambitious jobseekers now holding the view that working in the Middle East or Asia is a viable alternative for employment, offering opportunities for growth and development which are just not available in the UK.

Retaining good employees and recruiting top talent is an ongoing problem for retail HR departments. If your UK retail executive search efforts fail to identify the outstanding candidates needed to complement existing fashion design teams, get in touch with Anthony Gregg for specialist retail executive recruitment support.