Congratulations – with a Morrisons and a Sainsbury’s close by, how do you handle the competition? There is a lot of it – the Sainsbury’s opened in December last year, right next to the Morrisons. We visit them regularly to see what they are up to, how busy they are and to make sure our customers are getting better value. But our colleagues are very into service, availability and standards, and our customers are remaining loyal because of that.
How was the Easter period, with the two consecutive bank holidays? I can’t remember two bank holiday weekends like that in 33 years of working in retail. It was very unpredictable, but we had to make sure that products were available, and we got it spot on. Our outdoor furniture did very well and so did Chosen by You. Week-on-week we were up by about 50%. With the outdoor furniture, people were holding out for new deliveries because we were doing them at half the price of other stores.
Andy Clarke announced a target of 25,000 Asda apprenticeships this week. As a store manager, what do you think? I think it is absolutely fantastic. It is a proper City & Guilds apprenticeship. A lot of people never really look at retail as a career, but it can be a great one. I joined Asda 33 years ago on a YTS, but this opportunity will give the apprentices industry-recognised qualifications. We have a scheme for older colleagues as well, but our first aim is for our younger colleagues. We already have loads of interest from our existing colleagues but it will also attract their friends.
What is the hardest thing about your job? I couldn’t point to anything. I love what I do, and we try to bring fun onto the shop floor. I always ask how can we look at things differently and bring fun and entertainment to the shop so that it rubs off on our customers when they walk in? So we have trampolines and swings – we can do all this because of the size of the store. And we can have colleagues talking to customers about how to build them because they put them up in the shop. If you walk into a place where people are happy to work then that feeling rubs off on you – and it makes for a better shopping experience!
How do you personally make a difference in store?I operate with the Asda belief, which comes in three parts. Service to customers, respect for individuals and striving for excellence. We operate on those principles. And if I lead from the front and people see me living up to those beliefs then they follow suit.