When Simon Hellam joined Makro 18 months ago, he was thrown in at the deep end. After six years in retail, performing a variety of functions with discounter Lidl - most recently at its Wimbledon head office - Makro put him in charge of its busiest store.

“Moving to wholesale was an immense change,” says Hellam, “but the biggest surprise was the amount of autonomy I received.”

Hellam is managing the Makro store in Charlton, in south-east London and has relished the freedom the company gives its store managers to change the layout to suit local needs.

Managers also have the chance to negotiate deals with retailers who want to buy in bulk. “If a customer comes to me wanting to buy a pallet of something, I can check the price on the system, and offer them a deal.

“I’ll send an email to the buyer at head office to let them know, but purely as a courtesy.”

Hellam clearly delights in this part of the job, saying: “The customer has come with the potential to spend extra money, but only if you get the deal right. It’s a great feeling knowing you have realised that potential.”

In addition managers are
given a voice in determining products and prices displayed in Makro’s fortnightly mail-out to its retailer customers.

“When I was told managers had a say on the offers and the leaflet I thought they were having me on,” he says, “but it’s true. I’ve been up to head office about four times so far this year, and we can give the buyers the benefit of what we are hearing from our customers - the kind of products they want, and most importantly the prices we should be offering.”

Hellam’s 18 months at Charlton have been a rewarding challenge and he now faces another - opening a new Makro in Chester.