In Scotland, there are 14,390 retail businesses employing around 239,000 people.
This accounts for around 10 per cent of the entire Scottish workforce and between them, they contribute £24 billion to the country’s economy.
Hosted by John Park, MSP for mid-Scotland and Fife, the Skillsmart retail parliamentary reception was held ahead of the rise in VAT.
The event featured speeches from Gordon Drummond, director of Harvey Nichols Regional Stores Ltd and Gail Gittins from Superdrug.
Mr Drummond spoke about the importance of investing in skills and training, while Ms Gittins discussed the role of modern apprenticeships in Superdrug’s strategy.
Gordon McGuinness, head of industry and enterprise networks at Skills Development Scotland, said: “The issue of retail skills and employment is an area of policy that will be of great social and economic importance in the coming months and years, both nationally and locally.
“Dealing with the challenges facing the retail sector is crucial if it is going to continue to provide employment for young people and growth for the Scottish economy.
“We recognise the impact that retail has on the economy of Scotland and that it remains a key employer.”
Anne Seaman, chief executive of Skillsmart Retail said: “Skillsmart Retail has had a presence in Scotland for a number of years, but this is the first time we have brought retailers and MSPs together.
“It cannot be overestimated just how important retail is to the Scottish economy and particularly the issue of retail skills.
“If we want to carry on growing the retail sector in Scotland, it is vital that employees are well trained and continue to develop those skills.”