How did you get to where you are today?
I started at Sainsbury's when I was a student aged just 19 and have been here ever since. Four years ago I was given the opportunity to look at a business development role with suppliers in Scotland. The company was after somebody who was customer and retail focused and being a store manager at the time I was a perfect candidate. I joined the team at Holborn and over time that role has developed into this one. Our specialist Scottish buying team was formed at the beginning of this year and we have gone from strength to strength.
How are you finding the role?
Scotland is a major growth opportunity with our market share having grown by 10% in the past year, and we are making fantastic progress. Customers are telling us they want to see more local products on shelves, which is what we are here to do. Being based in Sainsbury's flagship Darnley store in Glasgow means we are much closer to our customers and can glean a greater understanding of their desires.
What is your working week like?
I spend a lot of time visiting our suppliers at their factories or sites. I also have quite a few meetings in London, and attend various Scottish Food and Drink, and Scottish Enterprise events, working to support small companies.
What are your plans for next year?
By mid 2007 we plan to have a bigger range of branded and own label Scottish products than any other retailer in Scotland. We have added 300 lines this year but are looking to grow the full number from 13,000 to 20,000. We have just taken on 26 new suppliers who will be providing us with everything from real ales to eggs.
This month, to coincide with St Andrews Day, we will also be launching a booklet, which will be delivered to more than 600,000 households, telling them about the suppliers we have been working with and focusing on the great quality of their products. We will also be looking to further expand our regional sourcing teams and have got three new people set to start at the end of this month.
We have significant plans for Scotland over the coming three years and the company is looking to significantly enhance its store estate where the fit is right.