Skillsmart vows to undo 'sitcom' view of retail jobs

Memories of Mrs Slocombe's pussy and camp Mr Humphries still put off potential recruits to retail, according to Debenhams chief executive Belinda Earl.

Speaking at the launch of Skillsmart, a£2 million initiative being run by the BRC for the Government, Earl said: 'The perception of the industry is poor. These views of retail are entrenched and have grown over generations.'

Retailers now have the chance to change the outdated image created by shows such as Are You Being Served? and Open All Hours, she said.

Earl, chairwoman of Skillsmart, added: 'The focus now is to develop career and employment opportunities through Skillsmart and to influence the Government, but it must be cost-effective, relevant and easily implemented.'

Skillsmart's vocational focus will create 'knowledgeable, productive and skills-oriented employees', Earl said.

- Training: page 16.