Superdrug Careers: Job Application Guide

The first ‘Superdrug’ (it didn’t go under that name at the time) store was set up in London in 1964 by the Goldstein brothers. Ownership has since changed hands a number of times until most recently in 2002 when it was sold to Hong Kong conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa.

Superdrug has 16,000 employees and in 2019 made an operating profit of just £6m on a turnover of £1.08bn (just over 0.5%). This is a very fragile profit but an improvement on their £2.4m reported loss in 2018.

Superdrug has 900 stores and a further 200 Savers stores and 200 pharmacy stores, making it the second largest health and beauty chain (behind Boots). Their head office is in Brighton and they have major distribution centres in Bristol, Dunstable and Pontefract.

The company’s latest marketing strategy is to use Welsh actress Joanna Page, star of the BBC TV series Gavin and Stacey, to represent them in a series of commercials in 2019, and also to absorb the recent VAT increase by ‘only’ adding 17.5% to their basic prices instead of the new 20%.

The company website is https://www.superdrug.com/ and the jobs link (‘Careers’) can be found at the bottom-middle of the home page under the ‘About us’ heading.

This takes us to http://www.superdrug.jobs/index_new.htm which has a revolving (and irritating) flash presentation offering links to Retail, Pharmacy, Head Office, Distribution and Job Search. Why someone didn’t think that just plain buttons or hypertext links were good enough, goodness knows. Anyway, I clicked on ‘Job Search’.

Choosing ‘Any Job’ and ‘Any Location’ returned 213 vacancies – not bad compared to some sites.

I clicked on the first job listed – a vacancy for an Area Manager in East Anglia.
The nitty-gritty for this post was as follows:

  • Start date – described as ‘immediate’
  • Description of duties – this was very general and not specific to the location
  • Remuneration – described as ‘Excellent + benefits’

This is very vague and what does ‘immediate’ mean? For all I know (given the way some sites are neglected), the job was filled 6 months ago.

Anyway, there was an ‘Apply’ link at the bottom which I clicked only to be told that I was required to register before I could proceed any further.

I returned to the search screen to investigate what sort of jobs were actually being listed.

Clearly if you are looking for a shop assistant’s job in Scotland, Wales or Ireland you have no chance!

I checked out some of the other vacancies and they offered ‘competitive’ remuneration packages and this got me wondering what the numerical difference between ‘competitive’ and ‘excellent’ is.
The absence of these lower echelon jobs (ones which are always becoming available as people with no defined career paths come and go) is a clear indicator that the jobs section is not particularly well-maintained.

Another clue was that every job sampled had an ‘immediate’ start date. This does not inspire confidence in the vacancy still being available and also, if taken literally, it suggests ‘knee-jerk’ reactions by Superdrug’s management.

“Oh dear, someone’s just left, I’d better find a replacement.”

That’s what the notice period is for, Superdrug!

The Jobpartners site is also a pain if you want to browse multiple jobs or if you wish to use the back button to find out more about Superdrug. It locked up on numerous occasions. This is neither user-friendly nor encouraging. The temptation is always to just click the red cross in the right-hand corner of the screen and ‘forget it’.

Fighting the programmer’s anti-social gesture, I returned to https://www.superdrug.jobs/index_new.htm and clicked on ‘Retail’ which then told me that “For information about local Sales Assistant opportunities, please contact your local store.”.

Would this not have been better placed on the Job Search page too? Why include a drop down option for something you aren’t offering?

  • The site promises ‘valuable benefits including fantastic opportunities for career progression’ yet, if these are explained anywhere, it is nowhere obvious.
  • The application process differs according to whether you are after a management or shop floor position.
  • For shop assistants, to apply, you have to submit a CV or application form to the shop you wish to work at. If they are interested in you, the store manager calls you in for an interview and to perform a shopfloor-based test.

For management, applications are online with an email from the resourcing team to let you know the outcome. If they are interested, you are interviewed first by the Resourcing Manager (for a competency interview) and then for a second time by an Area Manager for whom you have to complete a floor walk exercise.

I couldn’t see anywhere that elucidated what their amazing benefits are nor what salary I might expect. While this may be OK for shop assistant jobs, it is not OK for management.

If I were a jobseeker, and especially given the fact that Superdrug aren’t exactly rolling in it when it comes to spare cash for bonuses and fringe benefits, I’d just look in the local paper for something else.

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