Just as no two Spar stores are the same, no two days in my job are the same, either! As head of retail at Spar, my role isn’t office based. In any given week, I could have to travel from Manchester to Northern Ireland, to Scotland to Exeter, then a day in Harrow where Spar UK is based and then finally back home!
And on any given day, I could be chairing a formats’ group meeting, a sales directors’ meeting or a procurement meeting.
Meetings like these are really exciting because they’re all about the development of Spar. They cover everything from working on a new store format and store developments, to seeing how trials are going in-store, and finding new services to bring to our retailers.
When I’m not chairing meetings, I could be working on re-tendering services or preferred supplier agreements in areas such as design, shelving, refrigeration or lighting. On other days, I might be catching up with national account business, discussing retailer recruitment or updating the most recent changes in regulatory affairs.
I also work on Guild matters one of Spar’s many great qualities is its unique Guild system, which makes us truly accountable to our retail members. The system means that central office decisions on things like marketing or retail have to be agreed by the regional Guild committee of retailers and wholesalers and ratified by a central board. The system has been a major factor in our ongoing success.
Several times a year, we organise Guild board study tours both here in the UK and internationally, so we can keep abreast of new things happening in grocery retail. These are also a great chance to understand, via our retailers, if some of these innovations could work in our stores here in the UK.
But I couldn’t do all this without my team. I’m only able to pack so much in all over the country because I’ve got such a great team working with me.
Another aspect of my job that I’m especially passionate about is working on Daily Deli, the foodservice offer we introduced last year that has been a huge success. It’s great to work on something that’s so innovative.
Something else that forms a big part of my role, and that I’m really proud of, is my work on developing new store formats. Each week I’m working with all of the five Spar wholesalers to help them develop the next generation Spar store and we are determined that each one will be better than the last.
I also really enjoy talking to our entrepreneurial retailers about designing their next new store. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing a plan move from an idea, onto paper and then standing in the store on opening day and seeing what a transformation the store has undergone. We have some of the best retailers in Spar and their insight and dedication gets me up every morning.
We’re always learning from the store formats we develop, and this commitment to making every store even better forms a big part of Spar’s growth strategy. The innovative formats that my team and I have worked on with our design agency Appetite have won awards and helped us attract new retailers and business to Spar.
They’ve also really helped us to move our forecourt offer forward and become attractive to businesses like MRH, Roadchef and Rontec.
The working day doesn’t always stop for me at 5pm. I attend lots of functions in the evening.
But if I’m not at an industry ’do’, or travelling, I head home to my family. I live in a village called Marple, near Manchester, where one of our retailers, Paul Stone, has just opened a store. I helped him design the store so no pressure there then. It’s a great place to live and very exciting to have a store I’ve worked on, develop and open up nearby, and to watch it go from strength to strength.
As for my weekends? Well, I love sport, especially football, and am a Manchester United supporter! I also like golf and wish I had more time to play it (unfortunately my swing is my handicap!). I also get to manage the ’bank of Dad’ for my two eldest at University and spend some quality time with my 14-year old, who is already as tall as me.
After work or at the weekends, there is nothing better than spending time with my partner, Cathryn. She also works within the industry and is my rock and sounding board which is always done best over a large glass of Malbec.
Name: Ian Taylor
Job title: Head of retail
Company: Spar UK
Career history: Store management, brand management, store development, commercial director farming business
Tips for business success: Only concentrate on the things you can change, not the things you can’t
Most likely to say: The next store will be better than the last
Least likely to say: It’s fine that you are late!
Other interests: Golf, walking, travelling, Manchester United and my family