Convenience Leadership Programme

Key information

Start date:
To be confirmed

Contact details:


This course has been designed for area managers, buying teams, independent retailers, sales and market research specialists. To participate we only require experience in the convenience sector, a prior higher education is not necessary to take part.

Why executive education in convenience?

Training prepares people for the job they do today, education prepares them for the job they want to do in future. Training and education are complementary and both vital to progress in one’s career. Being able to develop and grow in one’s job is one of the major factors for staff satisfaction and retention. If you are afraid your best people will leave, then help them grow inside your organisation so that they don’t even feel the need to consider moving.

Why at the University of Surrey? 

The University of Surrey has a solid tradition in retail research amongst them convenience retailing, particularly represented by Sabine Benoit, Professor of Marketing and Director of this programme. She has conducted research with many small and large retail and manufacturing organisations and has impacted their businesses positively. Her research covers for instance retail technology, unstaffed stores, future or forecourts, quick commerce and frictionless shopping. 

What is the role of the ACS? 

The programme will be delivered in partnership with the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the association for convenience retailing in the UK. During the programme you will get to know various people from the ACS, attend ACS events, and if you are not already, become a vital part of this supportive community of like-minded convenience retailers.

We have really benefitted from sending colleagues on this course, giving them a broader perspective, insights from academic experts and industry leaders, and a network of like-minded future leaders. The content and delivery is excellent and I can recommend the Convenience Leadership Programme to anyone looking to progress in this industry.

Debbie Robinson, CEO at Central England Co-operative

Learning outcomes

During the programme we will discuss a wide range of topics which will help you to:

  • Understand what’s changing in retail convenience and why
  • Gain the skills to make and implement effective decisions in this industry
  • Acquire a great network of like-minded people
  • Move ahead in your career or your business.

Course content


Date and timeLocationProgramme

11 April

10am - 5pm

University of Surrey

1a: Socioeconomic and policy trends in the
convenience sector

1b: You and your career in the convenience sector

Networking dinner in the evening

12 April

9am - 4pm

University of Surrey

2a: Technology trends in the convenience sector

2b: Creating value propositions

29 April

10am - 5pm


3a: Leading brilliant teams

3b: Store management

ACS international dinner in the evening

30 April

10am - 5pm


4a: ACS Conference

4b: Guided tour over the National Convenience Show

7 May

3pm - 4pm

Online5: Discussion on the main takeaways from session ACS conference
and National Convenience Show

20 May

10am - 5pm

University of Surrey

6a: Innovation management

6b: Assortment and new product management and small Guildford store tour (Guild foods, campus store)

21 May

9am - 5pm

University of Surrey7: The dark side of convenience retailing safety, security, and retail losses

4 June


London8: ACS Technology Showcase

11 June

10am - 12 noon


9: Discussion on main takeaways from ACS Technology Showcase

10: Doing presentations in online meetings

2 July


Online11: Final presentation and graduation

Schedule content

Session 1a: The convenience sector and its political and legal retail environment, societal and economic trends

  • What are relevant political and legal developments, such as HFSS, minimum wages and employment conditions?
  • What are relevant economics challenges does the sector face, such as inflation, energy costs or the labour market?
  • How are societal changes affecting the convenience sector, such as the ageing population or urbanisation?

Session 1b: Personal and professional development: Your career in the convenience sector

  • How can we identify how we are perceived or positioned in the workplace through the eyes of your employer.
  • Which experience/skills are valued highest by the convenience sector?

Session 2a: Retail technology in the convenience sector

  • What are the most important technology trends?
  • Best practices adopting technology in the convenience sector.

Session 2b: Making attractive value propositions

  • What are the key market trends, and how are the needs of the convenience consumer changing?
  • How can we decide on the right offer for a convenience store, and how do we evolve it in line with our customers?
  • What is great service and how do we deliver customer satisfaction?

Session 3a: Personal and professional development: Leading brilliant teams

  • How can we improve the effectiveness of our collaboration within teams - as leaders and as colleagues?
  • How can best communicate with others?
  • How to best have a difficult conversation?

Session 3b: Store and customer management

  • What makes a store more valuable for customers?
  • The basics in store layout and competitive positioning.
  • Fundamentals of assortment management.
  • How to optimise pricing to increase profit?

Session 4a: ACS Conference

Session 4b: Guided tour over the National Convenience Show

Session 5: National Convenience Show reflection

  • Reflection on takeaways from the ACS conference and the National Convenience Show.
  • What have we learned? What does the information mean to the business?

Session 6a: Innovation management

  • How to create an organisational culture to stimulate innovation?
  • How do different kinds of companies innovate?
  • How can innovations be managed how can organisations be more agile?
  • How can large organisations think and act like start-ups?

Session 6b: Assortment and new product management

  • How can technology optimise shelf availability?
  • How to avoid food waste? What are the different categories of retail losses?
  • How to bring a new product to the market and evaluate its success?
  • Mini Guildford store tour.

Session 7: The dark side of the UK convenience sector

  • The state of crime in the UK convenience sector.
  • How can theft and criminal behaviour be avoided?
  • How can staff safety be secured?

Session 8 : ACS Technology Showcase

Session 9 : ACS Technology Showcase reflection

  • Reflection on takeaways from the event.
  • What have we learned?
  • What does the information mean to the business?

Session 10: Presenting yourself online

  • How to make a powerful presentation online?
  • How to improve your LinkedIn page.

Session 11: Final presentations

  • Practice and present an online project.
  • Online graduation ceremony.

Learning and teaching methods

This is an applied, evidenced-based course that aims to be directly relevant to business decisions in convenience retailing, at the same time also has a sound basis in academic or practical evidence. The course structure is aligned with various ACS activities and embeds them into the curriculum.


Requirements for graduation

This course is developmental. Participants will receive a graduation certificate if they have:

  1. Regularly attended and actively participated in modules
  2. Composed a final poster presentation about a topic of their choice.

At the end of the course, you will receive a graduation certificate at an ACS event.

Final project

For the final project presentation, you will look into one particular topic in convenience retailing in more depth and create an online presentation summarising the results. Topics in the past were, for example, HFSS, food waste, seasonal stores, or vaping assortment. This topic can be proposed by your employer or yourself.

The online presentation will enhance your convenience retailing-related knowledge and deliver insights to your employer and the sector. All the projects are presented at the end of the programme via an online presentation. 

Course leader

Course contributor

James Lowman

James Lowman

Partner - Chief Executive – Association of Convenience Stores

Entry requirements

We accept applicants with a wide range of educational and business experience. There is no need for a previous degree in the higher education sector, but experience in the convenience retailing sector is required.

Fees and funding

Fees are to be confirmed

How to apply

Please register your interest by contacting

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations and our terms and conditions. You are also confirming you have read and understood the University's prospective student privacy notice.

Further details of our terms and conditions will follow.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read the full disclaimer.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

Additional information

This course is also taught online, with a few sessions in Birmingham and London.

Professor Sabine Benoit Programme leader

University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH