Job profile: General Store Manager

Job Title:

General Store Manager



Professional Qualification(s):

  • 6 Highers (A – Economics, English; B – Maths, Chemistry, French)
  • Degree studied at Heriot Watt University

My career so far…

  • Oct 96-Apr 97: Warehouse Manager, Kirkcaldy
  • April 97-Jan 98: Grocery Trading Manager, Kirkcaldy
  • Jan 98-Jun 98: Grocery Sales Manager, Kirkcaldy
  • Jun 98-Jun 99: Grocery Trading Manager, Livingston
  • Jun 99-Sept 99: Secondment to Projects on Divisional Team
  • Sept 99-Nov 99: Customer Services Manager, St Leonards
  • Nov 99-Jul 00: Availability Manager, Store Deputy Manager, Dunfermline
  • Jul 00-Nov 00: SPM Maternity cover, Store Deputy Manager, Dunfermline
  • Feb 01-current: General Store Management, St Leonard’s

What does your job involve in a typical day?

A typical day, I don’t think I have ever had one !!! In a business that is affected by customers demands, colleagues morale, competition, suppliers, legislation, the city and even the weather – no day is the same. Further, as I deal with 275 colleagues and over 23,000 customers every week, all of whom want something completely different from me, you can never be sure what situation you will find yourself in.

However it is fair to say each day starts at 8am with a full sales floor walk. This normally takes and hour and involves spending time with colleagues in each department reviewing how we are
setup for the day’s trade. This is a key part of the day as it allows me, and the store team, to identify any urgent issues and resolve them immediately. It also allows us to spot any opportunities that we may have overlooked and pursue them, thus maximising our offer to our customers. Following on from this I chair the morning huddle, a daily communication with colleagues from all departments, updating them on business performance, up and coming initiatives and anything pertinent for that days trade. This information is then cascaded through each department and ensures as a store were are all aware of what is happening, whilst acting as a catalyst for further success.

The remainder of the day is as different as it is typical. Generally I would spend around 60% of my time on the sales floor, looking for ways we can improve the business through talking to my colleagues and customers. However it is also vitally important that as the General Store Manager I understand our financial position, and need to be able to identify opportunities from the vast array of statistical information available. As such a proportion of my time is spent each day analysing our performance in more detail.

In a typical week this would involve breaking down our sales performance, both at a store level and at department level, in terms of performance against business plan, year on year growth,
participation of division and benchmarking ourselves against comparable stores to identify any trends that can be used to improve our business. I also spend time daily looking at our cost centre management, as a key measure for me is how the store converts sales into net profit. Focus is given to our wage spend, reviewing performance against target and how efficiently we are spending our money. Waste is another key cost centre and again it is not purely the top line figure that needs analysis. If we are throwing stock out without first trying to sell it at a reduced price it is impacting on the store profitability, and I need to follow through with the relevant department manager to find out why the process has failed.

Although these are the two largest cost centres, as the GSM I am responsible for all store costs ranging from costs inherent with our physical stockholding, to electricity that powers the lights, to paper for the photocopier, to the cost of store repairs. Needless to say I cannot manage these independently, and therefore need to periodically review with the management team, the process we have for controlling them, and redirect as necessary. On a daily basis I also need to understand the people issues within the store – and again there is an array of measures we must aspire to achieve. These range from colleagues attendance, to labour turnover, to contracted hours targets to training goals. As such my job is to coach my personnel manager to achieve the desired results for the store. It is important to stress that what I have covered so far is purely the reviewing part of the job. As the General manager it is important that I review and action plan regularly with my management team. By doing this I am aware of the support and direction they need from me to achieve their department goals, which in turn contribute to the stores objectives. The other side of the job is the visionary element, the forward planning. Whilst my managers focus on the daily / weekly operational issues that arise with running a multi-million pound business. I need to focus on the longer term strategy of the store, and the business in general. This involves being close to where the industry is going, company initiatives in the pipeline, what local competitors are doing, what our customer base is telling us and anything I believe will impact on our store. At present this has involved monitoring our, and our competitors’, trading pattern. This has thrown up an opportunity to grow our sales by extending our opening hours. This has implications on colleagues rotas, managers compliment, how to advertise our extending trading hours and the correct timing to make the transition to maximise the impact, all of which I must ensure are addressed.

Therefore to say any day is typical would be a lie. The only thing that remains constant is that I am responsibly for the store’s profitability and leading the team to the next goal.

What do you like most about your job?

I thrive on the variety and challenges faced on a daily basis. As the leader of the store team I have a great influence on shaping the business and developing others. I believe this not only brings the best out of me, but allows me to get the best out of others.

What skills are required in your job?

The skill set required to lead a store team to success is vast, however some of the key attributes are :-

  1. Leadership and motivational skills. When dealing with a large team of colleagues, all of whom demand something different from you, you need to be adaptable.
  2. Visionary skills. I see my job as planning for the future and identifying opportunities my team can exploit.
  3. Focus. You need to be clear minded in the goals you want to achieve, and have the ability to identify the important issues and channel your team into delivering them.
  4. Eye for detail. The phrase retail is detail is so true, and it is important that I set the standard within the store.

And finally, as GSM, the colleagues watch and listen to everything you do, and before they will follow you, they need to believe and respect you.

How many people work for you?

275 colleagues. Consisting of 16 management colleagues and 259 hourly paid colleagues.

What is your advice for people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?

In my experience the pace of change in the retail industry is phenomenal, and as such requires a certain type of person who is resilient and determined to succeed. Without doubt the opportunities within the industry are exceptional. As everybody has to eat there will always be demand for our products, however to be successful you need to have the ambition and drive to fight for the customers and give them an offer the competitors cannot match. To sum up. Is it for you ? It is if you want it enough.