The role of a shopfitter

Ever wondered what a shopfitter does? In our latest article we take a closer look at this important role.

A shopfitter needs a combination of practical, commercial and creative skills to convert empty spaces into retail environments that are designed to attract customers and induce them to spend money and time in an inviting area. Shopfitters work across a diverse range of retail sectors and need to be adaptable in order to create a plan and a vision for different types of shops in accordance with their client’s requirements.

Shopfitter duties
The fundamental duties of a shopfitter are to design, organise and construct the interior of a range of commercial properties such as restaurants, bars, retail outlets, banks and other types of business. Therefore, the tasks involve assessing and co-ordinating colour schemes, types of furnishing, fabrics and installation of a range of fittings such as showcase areas, counters, doors, fixtures and merchandise racks.

A good level of mathematical and organisational ability is required in order to measure and cost goods, prepare drawings and diagrams and arrange tenders and quotations for the work to be undertaken.

Another part of the job entails good people management skills in order to oversee a number of tradesmen and vendors so that all parties are well informed and clear instructions given. In the case of the client, negotiation and interpersonal skills are paramount to ensure they are fully consulted on the design of the area and that they are kept on board and happy with the work at every step of the shopfitting process.

In terms of personal characteristics the qualities needed are great organisational and management skills in conjunction with creative and pragmatic abilities, and the perseverance to see a project through and communicate effectively with all those involved.

Entry requirements and skills
Often you will be required to have some background experience in the construction industry such as joinery or carpentry or a college course in construction, and employers often prefer some basic educational qualifications such as GCSEs in Maths, English and Design.

There are a number of courses that can lead to a career in shopfitting and CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) and the National Association of Shopfitters have extensive information on different types of training and qualifications.

General work conditions
A shopfitter has to be prepared to work long hours to get a project finished on time, although a typical working week would be around 40 hours. The hours of work would often need to be carried out flexibly to fit around a client’s business, and most of the duties would be carried out indoors and on site usually wearing protective gear. It may be necessary to stay away from home on certain jobs.

Career progression
Typical career routes and pathways include becoming a foreman or chargehand and supervising staff after the requisite amount of experience has been acquired. There are other training routes into contract management, works manager or shopfitting design, and a goal for some in this role is to ultimately set up their own business.

Find out some recent project our shop fitters have been working on by visiting our projects & retail shopfit page.