Planet Organic is creating a workforce as sustainable as their products


Inspired to improve the local communities and neighbourhoods of the nation’s capital, Planet Organic has been on a mission to promote the health of Londoners since 1995. Starting as a single store and supplying locals with organic fresh produce, they’ve now evolved to become a hybrid business – providing retail, hospitality and e-commerce across their 12 stores.

The investment in the learning and development of their employees has played a key part in their growth. In 2017, Planet Organic started a relationship with the UK’s leading apprenticeship provider, HIT Training. Their apprenticeship programme offers employees the opportunity to gain valuable experience working in different departments across all of their stores.

Planet Organic’s Learning and Development Manager, James Marsh, said: “Sustainability is at the heart of our organisation, from the products we sell to our sourcing. We started working with HIT Training to create a workforce with expertise in retail and our product range, as well as retaining the amazing talent we have in our stores. This collaboration has established us as an attractive employer with a workforce as sustainable as our products.”

The problem

Despite the soaring popularity of Planet Organic’s environmentally friendly and organic products, there remains a stigma around developing a career in retail.

James said: “A huge challenge in our mission to create healthy and sustainable careers is showcasing that retail is an industry with opportunity for personal growth and to build a career. Less than 10% of young people aged 14-18 in the UK see retail as a responsible career choice, so we’re strategising and adapting on a daily basis to challenge this statistic.”

Planet Organic is showing courage by taking a leading role in challenging the stereotypes around careers in the retail industry. With an extremely popular product amongst young people worldwide, Planet Organic recognised that they needed to create career paths with extensive training to improve retention and growth.

The solution

Planet Organic began their partnership with HIT Training by offering the Level 2 Retailer apprenticeship in their storefronts. This took the training they had on offer to the next level – having the opportunity to work with HIT Training’s team of highly experienced Training Consultants, become formally qualified in their position, and kickstart their careers.

James said: “As a levy paying business, HIT Training helped us make the most of this money – allowing us to really step up the quality of our training. We started seven of our staff on the Level 2 Retailer apprenticeship, helping us to retrain them and expand their skill set in retail. Additionally, we’ve provided them with the scope and the chance to visualise building a career with us, whilst working with a product they’re passionate about.”

Despite the stigma around careers in retail, the popularity of Planet Organic’s products and message as an organisation has attracted individuals which are passionate about the environment. This has allowed them to establish a culture of growing their own talent. 

James said: “The managers in eight of our stores started in entry level positions. Implementing robust training programmes, delivered by experts, empowers us to continue our tradition of growing our people, whilst changing young people’s view on the industry we represent.”

The results

Through the introduction of training programmes with HIT Training, Planet Organic is working toward the creation of a workforce of retail experts, passionate about the planet and sustainability. James said: “A part of our appeal as an employer is down to our message – meaning a majority of our staff already possess a passion and drive to promote what we offer. By working with HIT Training, they’re helping our employees to become experts – creating a passionate workforce with expertise in our industry.”

Additionally, Planet Organic is showing improvements in staff retention and providing careers for their team members by investing in their staff. James said: “Amazingly, three of our Level 2 Retailer apprentices have been retrained and

retained as a part of our company, continuing our tradition of creating homegrown talent and showing an impressive 43% retention rate of our apprentices.”

With an eye on the future, Planet Organic have ambitions to build on the success of their already successful training programmes with HIT Training. James said: “With the success from our first group of apprentices, we’re continuing to invest in our staff. In 2021, we’re enrolling another 30 of our staff onto the Level 2 Retailer apprenticeship – building on our expertise and creating more experts in our business.”

With a hugely fruitful training programme in place for their retail staff, Planet Organic is looking to support their staff further. James said: “The majority of retailers operate with a centralised HR function, making it difficult to provide support to staff within stores. That’s why we’re working with HIT Training’s sister company, the Executive Development Network, to implement a training programme offering the Level 3 Learner Mentor apprenticeship. This will give all of our staff and apprentices someone to rely on and learn from, taking the support and leadership that HR provides into our stores, directly to those who need it the most.”

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Jodie Plummer – Senior Sous Chef at Compass Group UK & Ireland

Beyond Food Foundation

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