British supermarkets are creating 27,000 jobs this year. Investment banks will probably cut tens of thousands. So, is there the slightest possibility that any of the people getting out of investment banking could get into supermarkets?
It’s happened before. Back in 2000, three budding Goldman bankers left The Firm to set up their own online grocery retailing business. Eight years later, Ocado has 350m in annual sales and takes 12,000 orders a day.
Sadly, Ocado may be a case alone. Things were bad in 2000, but they weren’t that bad – Goldman reportedly even told the Ocado escapees that they could have their jobs back if things didn’t progress as planned.
Today, a brief perusal of big supermarkets’ websites suggests most of the open positions are for ‘trading roles’ (AKA merchandising, aisle arranging) or for uninspiring things like credit control.
Tesco (10,000 new jobs in 2009) does have jobs that pay in excess of 100k, but they’re all for IT analysts. No one was in Tesco’s office yesterday to tell us whether senior positions suited to bankers might come up soon.
Asda (7,000 new jobs in 2009), told us most of its new roles will be attached to new stores and will therefore involve ‘colleagues’ well versed in the art of delivering and picking products.
Aldi (227 new stores coming soon) might be an alternative. A spokesperson tells us that its well publicized graduate recruitment programme, which is hiring 50% more people this year and pays a 40k starting salary, rising to 60k after three years plus a company car, would be open to bankers who have lost their jobs . However, she also divulges that the programme is predominantly populated by 20 year olds fresh from university.
Failing this, Jim Hinds, head of the consumer team at headhunters say Russell Reynolds, says the supermarket jobs most suited to former bankers are in strategy/M&A or corporate finance. However, these jobs are hard to come by and Hinds says: “There are significant cultural differences between the two industries, which mean that [any movement from banking to retail] would be more a trickle than a flow.”