Shields left Tesco as a deputy store manager to work at United Wholesale (Scotland) two years ago and is now the store manager at the Maxwell Road cash and carry in Glasgow, where he is in charge of 70 staff.
“It is a small cash and carry – 25,000sq ft – but we do £1.3m per week. Pound per square footage we are the busiest cash and carry in Britain. “The word we are using this year is shopability. It’s very hard to keep this place filled. We have to make sure availability is there for our customers, but also make sure that they can shop easily.”
Shields has been concentrating on training staff to achieve ‘shopability’ and continually talks to customers to improve service. He says one key to improving availability has been communication about promotions. “We have told our customers that if we put on a promotion we will guarantee availability for the length of the promotion. Instead of rushing in and buying pallets of the stock, they buy what’s needed for the day and come back for more. It cuts down on erratic buying and also cuts down on stock holding for our customers.”
Shields says that he is a very hands-on manager because he needs to be close to where trade happens.
“I want to be on the floor to deal with queries immediately. If I’m told someone has a better price than us, we’ll beat the offer,” says Shields. “If a customer wants something, we’ll get it in. The more we help our customers, the more they will spend with us. “It’s very satisfying to see the guy who starts out buying two trolleys from us move up to buying three and then four,” he says.