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The Fabian Society’s retail taskforce

Productivity and Pay: the Fabian Society’s retail industry taskforce


In January 2017, the Fabian Society published the findings of a year-long taskforce charged with findings ways to improve productivity and pay in the UK retail industry. The taskforce was supported by the Trust for London and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The taskforce was chaired by Norman Pickavance, former Director of HR and Communications at Morrisons, who advised Ed Miliband on employment matters before the General Election.The final report from the taskforce was launched in Parliament on Tuesday 31 January 2017.
The final report from the taskforce finds that changes in the retail landscape could lead to more than 1 million job losses or a race to the bottom on working conditions. Despite this, the government’s industrial strategy continues to ignore the UK’s largest industry.The taskforce was established to look at how productivity and pay could be improved in the UK retail sector as it undergoes a dramatic transformation. Drawing on public hearings, expert testimony and the insights of people working in retail, the taskforce proposes a 10-point plan for how the government can support retailers to improve jobs, grow the economy and revitalise community spaces.
Read the final report here
MediaNorman Pickavance, ‘Retail is at a crossroads – Government must act’ in Retail Week, 31 January 2017.

Norman Pickavance, ‘The future of British retail’ in Fabian Review. 31 January 2017.

Cameron Tait, ‘Retail at the crossroads’ in Trust for London online.31 January 2017.

Nicole Morley, ‘1,000,000 retail jobs are at risk in the UK’ in Metro.31 January 2017.

‘Without government backing one million retail jobs could go, says Fabian Society’ in Express. 31 January 2017.

Cameron Tait, ‘The future of retail is human’ in The Huffington Post. 7 June 2016.

Cameron Tait, ‘Higher pay is an opportunity, not a cost’ in Fabian Review. 5 April 2016.

James Wilmore, ‘Analysis: Retail productivity in the spotlight as living wage looms’ in Retail Week. 8 February 2016.

Norman Pickavance, ‘Retailers can solve the productivity challenge’ in Retail Week. 1 February 2016.

Cameron Tait, ‘Sector by sector’ in Fabian Review. 28 January 2016.

Catherine Neilan, ‘Former Morrisons exec Norman Pickavance to lead retail taskforce to solve low pay and productivity issues’ in City AM. 28 January 2016.

Julia Glotz ‘New task force to challenge retail’s “low waged, low skilled” culture’ in The Grocer. 28 January 2016.

James Wilmore, ‘Former Morrisons exec launches task force to tackle retail productivity’ in Retail Week. 28 January 2016.

Taskforce members

Please click here for a list of taskforce members and biographies.


To listen to the hearings, please click here.

The taskforce held a series of public hearings with leading practitioners and experts on how we create better jobs in the changing retail landscape.

Speakers included representatives from Accenture, the John Lewis Partnership, the British Retail Consortium, IKEA, Virgin Unite, the Smith Institute, the Living Wage Foundation, Kurt Salmon, the Resolution Foundation and Usdaw.


Lead researcher

Cameron Tait

Cameron Tait is head of the Changing Work Centre and senior research fellow at the Fabian Society.


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