Business for Lizette Craig, MD of Botterills Convenience Stores, is very much like the old Sly and The Family Stone hit - a real family affair.
Granddaughter to the company&'s founder, daughter of its chairman, and wife to its financial director, Craig is the third generation to take up the reigns of the Botterills&' business, which celebrates 50 years of trading this month.
&"When my grandparents opened the first Botterills&' store in 1956, it took around £10 a week. 50 years on, we have an annual turnover of more than £60m; it&'s pretty amazing,&" she said.
Craig stepped up to the plate in September 2004 following her father&'s retirement after 38 years with the company. Craig, who is now in her mid-thirties, admits that her father is a hard act to follow, but she is determined to make her own mark on the business and continue his success in driving it forward.
&"It can be quite hard at times to follow in the footsteps of somebody who was in the business for so long, but I am slowly putting my own stamp on things. I owe a great deal of thanks to my management team and especially my dad. He has taken a step back to let me do things my way, which must have been hard for him at first.&"
However, she&'s no stranger to the business. Craig started work part time in head office as a teenager. She later graduated with a degree in accountancy from Glasgow University and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.
Nearly two years into her new role and Craig&'s &'way of doing business&' is certainly having an impact. Year-on-year growth is up by 7.4% and the grocery chain is currently ranked 17th in The Grocer&'s Top 50 list of independent retailers.
Craig also plans to open two further stores by the end of the year, which would bring the Botterills store portfolio up to 47, just three short of the 50 mark that she had planned to meet by the company&'s Golden anniversary.
&"I could have had 50 stores if I had wanted to, but they might not have been the right stores. It&'s not a numbers game; each of the stores has to contribute to the company and not be a drain on it. In this day and age of soaring business costs, you simply can&'t afford that.&"
Craig is vexed by the same issues as all our Top 50 members: the minimum wage, rising energy costs and competition from other retailers. But she says that keeping a cool head and knowing when to turn off is one key to success. She has a good work/life balance, is an avid football fan and cinema-goer, and has just come back from two weeks in the sun.
&"Getting away is vital, and I have no worries when I leave. Obviously I am always on the end of the phone if there&'s a problem, but I have a tremendous amount of trust in the people that I leave behind, which is so important,&" she says.
It is this close relationship between herself, her management team and staff that helps to keep things running smoothly, she adds.
&"You have got to keep it local. It&'s vital that you really know your staff and keep them involved. We have almost 900 members of staff working for us and they are all on first-name terms with both myself and my father. I never want to get away from that. We are like a big extended family, and that&'s the way it&'s going to stay. Our staff are our main focus as they are our first line of contact with our customers. If our staff are happy, our customers will be happy.&"
Craig is now in the throes of fixing the final touches to the plans for Botterills&' 50-year celebrations, which are due to kick off with a big bash for suppliers and staff on 7 June.
All Botterills stores will be running special 50-year promotions, and displaying 50-year PoS material. Suppliers will also be getting stuck in by providing products to tie in with the celebrations.
However, Botterills reaching its 50th year of trading is not the only celebration that is set to take place this year, as Craig is just over four months pregnant with her first child.
&"The baby is going to be another major adjustment. I will obviously be taking maternity leave, but with both my dad and my husband still working, I will be kept fully informed of everything that goes on!&"
With the next heir to the dynasty due to arrive on the scene in October, it looks as though the Botterills&' empire will continue to thrive for many years to come. n
Store numbers: 45
Number of employees: 889
Growth year-on-year: 7.4%
Type of operation: C-stores
50 years on...
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