Creation of a Nationally Recognised Retail Degree Funded by the EU

Creation Of A Nationally Recognised
The challenge

Several companies including The Body Shop, Peugeot and Toys R Us within the retail industry expressed the need for better staff education and the ability to attract quality recruits. This they believed would improve their ability to compete on an international level.

Many companies who are based in Denmark develop their own training and education programs. The issue was training recognition did not transfer to other companies or industries or were approved as a tertiary level education qualification.

The inability to offer recognised training programs made it hard to attract great employees and recruit to and across the retail industry. We also recognised there was a lack of knowledge across the industry including the areas of leadership, finance and general business skills.

Best practices and learnings from the national and international retail industry were not shared or incorporated into a common education program. This created a less competitive internationally industry.

What we did

As a consultants working with and representing multiple major retail companies, Torben and his team contacted the possible project sponsors. We secured a deal with the national chamber of commerce and two university business schools.

We set up a stakeholder group involving people from 20 of the biggest retail and FMCG chains in Denmark to get their input to create and agree upon a course overview.

Following this, we applied for and secured funding from the European Union and to develop and run a Bachelor of Commerce level education for 2 years.

Given Torben’s experience as a teacher and lecturer and working in the retail industry, he worked with stakeholders to create the course content for group approval.


Proud and successful graduate, Jesper Paarup Bilcher.

“When Jesper embarked on the retail academy education he was a store manager. Eighteen months later, he was promoted to a district manager with responsibility for more than 200 employees in the DIY retail chain. This big step up the career ladder he attributes to the completion of this degree in commerce.”
— Jesper Paarup Blicher, District Manager, JEM & FIX

Torben and the team developed content for these areas of study:

  • Concepts and concept management
  • Technological development
  • Personal development
  • Situational leadership
  • Sales Management
  • Resource and storage management
  • Finance management
  • Store analysis and optimisation of operations
  • Attracting, hiring, retaining, developing and retrenchment of employees.

The new education program was approved by the national education department and recognised as a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Retail. Previously, only majors in Leadership and Human Resource were available.

The education consists of 6 modules, intended to be completed over a 3-year period. The degree is now recognised all across Europe (part of the European Credit Transfer System).

Once the degree was developed, we undertook the task of selling it to companies within the retail and FMCG industry. The target participants included store managers, franchisees, department heads and warehouse managers.

The results
  • The Degree in Commerce (Retail) delivered by Kea Business Academy in Denmark was the first education with European Union funding that was able to fully self-funding and sustainable itself after only one year.
  • Two different companies, one in the hardware industry and one in fast-food, have measured the effects of their store managers participating in this education and found that store managers who have participated in this education have a better bottom line and a smaller turnover of staff compared to no participants.
  • The education program has now existed for 8 years and companies including McDonald’s choose to use and offer this course to employees every year.
  • An external research company measured the effects of the education program and reported a higher level of students recalled the acquired knowledge one year after completion.
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