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Hiring and managing employees

Now you have the operational side of your business in check, it’s time to consider employees. In this instalment of the How to Open a Shop Guide, we run through some of the basics of employing staff. It can be a minefield so ensure you get the support of a legal adviser if you have questions.

Employing staff

Once you know where you’d like to open your business, visit the area at different points throughout the day to get a feel for the peak trading period, check the opening and closing times of other shops in the area and ask them when their busier times of the day are. You’ll then have a better idea of when you’d like to open and close your shop and therefore if you’ll need to look into hiring staff straight away.



From 6 April 2019, new government legislation said that employers must provide payslips to all workers, as well as provide itemised payslips to those whose pay varies depending on the number of hours worked. Find out more about this here.


Looking after existing employees

There are regulations that govern what happens to employees when someone new takes over a business. These apply to all employees when a business is transferred as a going concern, meaning employees automatically start working for the new owner under the same terms and conditions.


Employment Tribunal awards

When you buy an existing business, you might decide you need to employ fewer staff. However, it’s important to tread carefully as an employee might bring a case to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal or unfair selection for redundancy. As such, it’s always best to consult a solicitor before making any such changes.


Inform and consult employees

If you are planning any changes to the business after the takeover, you are required to inform and consult all affected employees (or their representatives) about those changes. It’s a good idea to do this once you’ve completed the due diligence period, but it must be done before you take over the business.


Getting legal cover from day one, through Bira membership, will help to provide advice, also reassurance of £50,000 legal insurance if things go wrong. Find out more here.


Where to get support

All Bira members have free and unlimited support for matters surrounding:

  • Employment Law & HR
  • Health & Safety
  • Commercial and business legal
  • Tax, VAT and HMRC



As their new employer, you do not have to take over rights and obligations relating to employees’ occupational pension schemes put in place by the previous employer. However, if you don’t provide comparable pensions arrangements, you could theoretically face a claim for unfair dismissal. You can find support on this area though Bira membership here.


Attracting the right staff

The three key attributes customers look for in a health food store, according to industry marketing guru, Danny Wells, are Freshness, Range and Knowledge.


Having the right staff is key to all three. Bright energetic staff will be able to create the right atmosphere, they will be willing to merchandise all day long, greet customers with a smile and impart their knowledge and experience in an appropriate way.


Qualified staff are difficult to find in this industry. Most people who qualify in complementary therapies tend to then go into practice for themselves. Look for enthusiasm, cleanliness and an ability and willingness to learn. Training in natural remedies is available within the industry and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. What you can’t teach is a good attitude.


Margaret Peet shares some ideas on keeping staff loyal and happy:

  1. Offer a good training programme. Manufacturers will help with this, so don’t be afraid to ask
  2. Offer sales incentives and sales related bonuses
  3. Be reasonable with holidays and days off


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Go back to How to Open a Shop Guide