Retail “doesn’t punch its weight nationally” when it comes to recruiting talent, BRC chair Richard Pennycook has said.

Speaking at the launch of the BRC’s employment initiative, Rethink Retail, yesterday,  Pennycook said the industry does not compete enough in terms of media coverage and needs to get better at making its voice heard to attract the best talent.

“We’re fixated as a nation with making stuff and therefore it’s a news headline when somebody who makes something does something. When retail does something, it tends not to be a headline,” he said. “We don’t punch our weight at a national level and the danger, for example, in the careers space is the perception of us as a sector is not as good as it could be.”

Pennycook said the ongoing “digital revolution” in retail “is changing everything” and will undoubtedly put a number of retail jobs at risk. However, he said the changes would provide the sector with an opportunity to improve the quality of many jobs, too.

He said: “The new retail economy and the new jobs being created have some fascinating characteristics. They are brilliant jobs and potential careers all about that everlasting trade based on getting something that somebody has made into somebody else’s hands.”

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson, also speaking at the event, set out her vision for the future of retail employment and said the BRC has “really big aspirations”.

“There will be fewer jobs in the industry in future. But we have set a vision for the future of retail jobs,” she said. “A vision where retail is seen as a career of choice and a leader in diversity and inclusion. A vision of better-paid jobs, with more progression opportunities.

“A vision of making retail more connected with a more motivated workforce. We also have some really big aspirations, building on the strengths the industry already has.”

Rethink Retail is a new, careers guidance website featuring a number of case studies from businesses such as Asos, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Boots and Superdrug.

The BRC said the site would play a key role in a broader initiative to “support retail career initiatives in schools, colleges and universities”.