In 1992 the Ontario Retail Sector Strategy Advisory Board set up by the Ontario government, identified the need for more professional development programs and training materials geared to the retail sector. In response, the $2.1 million “Retail Learning Initiative" was started at Ryerson (in connection with the Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity) and developed a series of books/workshops as part of the "Retail Smarts" program.
As a separate initiative, the "Eaton School of Retailing" was formed in 1994 through an alliance between Ryerson and the T. Eaton Company. This led to the development of a CD-ROM based program in Merchandising Mathematics (piloted in 1996), which eventually became integrated into what is now part of the B.Comm curriculum in RMG200: Introduction to Retail and Services Management.
In spring 1995, Ryerson’s Continuing Education division (now “The Chang School”) received approval to introduce two (2), eight (8) credit certificates in Retail Management.
October 1996 marked the first distance delivery pilot of the Retail and Services Management 1 Course, in partnership with the Rogers Communication Centre at Ryerson and Bell Canada – the latter contributing over $200,000 of in-kind and partner support.
Following the completion of an industry needs assessment in 1997; a proposal was approved to create Canada’s first bachelor of commerce degree program in retail management. The new “School of Retail Management” welcomed the first class of students in September 1998, maintained academic leadership for course offerings through C.E., and assumed responsibility for the Retail Learning Initiative – bringing retail education under a single umbrella at Ryerson.
June of 2000 marked a major contribution to the School’s Invest in Futures campaign in the form of $1 million donations each by 4 leading retailers – Hudson’s Bay Company, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Sears Canada, and Walmart Canada. These funds were designated in part for student awards (totalling an average of 28 individual scholarships of $1000 or greater) as well as the development of “Innovative Programming” and the “Retail Ready ‘Net” initiative to offer the degree curriculum on the Internet.
With the approval of Academic Council, the school implemented a flexible, part-time degree program in the fall of 2001. This allowed students to enroll in courses offered during evenings, on the Internet, or in the day along with full time students.
In 2002, three competitors in the property management and shopping centre development sector (Cadillac Fairview, Ivanhoe Cambridge, and Oxford Properties) stepped up collectively to support the school’s Internship program with a combined donation of $750,000.
Today, all students complete a minimum of a 400-hour summer internship before starting their final year of studies. These internships include roles in store operations management, shopping centre marketing, buying, e-commerce and social media, visual merchandising and more.
A partnership with JDA Software Group Inc. began in February 2003 with a software donation valued at $5 million. This provided the opportunity to teach hands on skills in merchandise planning, space planning and category management software – the later having proven to be highly sought after by employers looking to hire graduates from the program.
In 2007, Ted and Loretta Rogers made a transformational donation of $15-million leading the Faculty of Business and all of its Schools (including Retail Management) to become the Ted Rogers School of Management.
The Ted Rogers School of Retail Management's annual Retail Week officially began in Fall of 2008. Each year includes mini-case presentations, speed networking with retail employers and numerous guest speakers plus student engagement opportunities. Past participants have included executives from Loblaw, Hudson’s Bay Company, lululemon, Google Canada, Harry Rosen, Starbucks Canada, Le Chateau, Walmart Canada, Canadian Tire, TD Canada Trust, Pepsi/Frito Lay, Mega Blocks, Visa Canada, Rogers Wireless, and many more.
Industry co-operation for in-class projects has been a key aspect of the program since its inception. Some recent examples include: