Safeway marketing director Roger Ramsden is to swap his day job to do a stint as manager of a flagship store. In all, he will spend five months gaining hands on experience of what it like to run a store, starting with a four week stint shadowing an area manager before he takes on the real thing. The move is part of a Safeway initiative to strengthen retailing skills among its directors and senior management. It is part of a broader plan to put the stores at the centre of the business. Ramsden will spend a day a week at Safeway's Hayes hq for board meetings and strategic meetings ­ but the rest of the week he will act as a typical store manager. From April, this will mean customer service, merchandising, day to day management issues, product availability ­ and managing a team of around 300 staff. "Unlike most other retailers, where directors typically spend a few hours in a store, I will be living and breathing my store for several months. I'm really looking forward to this," said Ramsden. During his retail sabbatical, director of marketing Karen Bray will be in charge of the Safeway marketing department and director of format marketing Matthew Crane will take responsibility for store format design. The wacky idea is part of a drive to revive the fortunes of the supermarket chain initiated new chief executive Carlos Criado-Perez. He is keen to devolve power away from Safeway's HQ and on to managers who are being asked to run stores almost as standalone units. In return, they are on an incentive scheme offering bonuses worth as much as 50% of their salary. Putting directors onto the shop floor should provide valuable feedback on how initiatives are working. {{TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT }}