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Desperate to impress when trading places

Hilary Cookson

Pretend you work for someone else. It certainly makes you mentally keen.

Pretend you work for someone else. It certainly makes you mentally keen.

I’m currently going through a fascinating period of self-analysis. After 30 years, I’ve become an employee.

Six months ago I joined up with independent department store JR Taylor in the north of England to work alongside it for two years on a consultancy basis, to try to help it regain its focus and put an iconic store back on the shopping map.

What a fantastic journey and what a privilege to have such an insight into another business - to find out what works, what doesn’t, to build a team, find our core customer and compile a marketing campaign. I have bosses I report to and answer to each month and, as a buyer, I have to justify my spend and aim to beat budget each week. I’m loving it. After all these years of it being my money and my mistakes, I find myself analysing every cost centre and penny spent in this job.

Without knowing the history and background of each individual member of staff’s issues, to win over half-hearted members of the team, to recruit more team members and empower the undervalued ones has been a managerial minefield.

Tomorrow is our quarter-end management meeting and I’ve spent the morning looking over the figures and I’m feeling mighty chuffed. We’re not out of the woods, but there is light in the distance.

And my message in all this? It’s been down to good old-fashioned shopkeeping so far. There’s been no magic formula. Even if it’s your own shop, pretend you work for someone else. It certainly makes you mentally keen, and when the figures start to climb you feel mighty proud of the whole team.

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