Was: Senior marketing manager for Asda
Now: Conservative MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire
Years worked in grocery: 12
What is your career background? I worked for Asda from September 1993 to May 2005, when I was elected MP for Shipley. I was very lucky to work there during the time it was turned around by Archie Norman and Allan Leighton. Archie was a huge inspiration to me.
How is being an MP different from working at Asda? The biggest difference is the pace that things happen. Retail is a fast-moving industry whereas things happen painfully slowly in politics! However, I did say in my maiden speech that I think the supermarket industry is a superb grounding for politics as you meet a great cross-section of the public, and I have maintained my passion for customer service for my constituents.
What was your biggest achievement at Asda? The initiatives I delivered when I was responsible for the service and facilities we provided to disabled customers. Market research showed we were way ahead of our competitors on things such as the types of trolleys we provided and making sure disabled parking bays weren’t misused. It all culminated in us opening a disability flagship store in Swindon, showcasing everything Asda did for people with disabilities.
Do you miss grocery? I can honestly say I loved every minute of my time at Asda. I miss the cut and thrust of retail and the private sector and I certainly miss the people there, although I do stay in touch with quite a few.
Will you come back? My constituency is proposed for abolition by the Boundary Commission at the next election so I may be looking for a return to the retail sector sooner rather than later!