Recruiting tech talent in Manchester is competitive but there is lots of talent out there says N Brown Group IT change director Jennifer Mossop Scott.

Mossop Scott was speaking at BusinessCloud and Select Property Group’s ‘Why Now is the Time to Invest in Manchester’ event.

The national retailer’s latest figures show revenue has increased by 3.9 per cent  to £922.2m for the last year through brands including JD Williams, High & Mighty  and Simply Be on its books.

“We’re always on the look-out for great tech talent, it’s our bread and butter,” Mossop Scott told the 75-strong audience.

“We find it competitive but successful sourcing talent in Manchester. We fight hard like everyone else for great talent and find terrific graduates, particularly in computer science and tech, coming out of the universities.”

Alongside a strong pipeline of university graduates, apprenticeships have also been a key source of recruitment success for the company, which now sees 73 per cent of its sales done online and through mobile channels.

Mossop Scott believes the company’s digital focus has been an important element of its success attracting the next generation.

“The apprentices are coming in after leaving school and they’re well-rounded, well-educated, ambitious, passionate, articulate people who want to live and work here,” she said.

“Our offering of the fast pace of a retail business oriented totally towards tech and headquartered in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which is a vibrant part of city, is a reasonable draw.

“Having the likes of Boohoo and Missguided here also means there’s a good pool of fashion talent in the area and we see a lot of fluidity between that.”

The company is itself midway through a huge digital transformation journey and Mossop Scott now classes it as a tech business.

“Our marketing is much more digitally generated than it ever was,” she said.

“We’re moving away at pace from being a retailer that lands catalogues on doorsteps – it’s just not how we do business any  more. Even 5-10 years ago that was the main rhythm driver for us.”

The company has not completely abandoned catalogues and print as a way to reach certain demographics but it has pivoted significantly.

“As a result we need all this supporting technology and talent to truly make that leap into a digital business,” said Mossop Scott.

“The results are very positive and our more digital brands, the younger-facing retailers like Simply Be and our international offerings in the US, are growing in double digits very strongly.

“It’s fantastic to see because we drive over 90 per cent of our traffic through entirely digital means and online revenue is up 17 per cent.”

Also speaking at the event was Sheona Southern, managing director, Marketing Manchester; Christian Spence, head of future economies analytics, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School; Giles Beswick, director, Select Property Group; Tim Newns, CEO, MIDAS; Trish Keating, programme lead, Tech Manchester; Ash Pandey, client partner UKI – TechMahindra; and Vikas Shah, managing director & CEO, Swiscot Group.