I have been working in the retail environment for more than 30 years. I started working in the WH Smith’s branch in Newbury where my Dad was manager. After a successful career spanning 25 years with WHS, encompassing Store and Area Management positions, combined with training and buying experience I decided to leave and go independent with my wife Melanie. I wanted to see my children grow up and 9 years ago we bought Martin’s of Castle Cary in Somerset.
Although it is quite a change moving from the ‘comfort’ of being employed to being totally responsible for our entire business I brought with me a significant number of transferable skills. These included the fact that successful retail businesses are customer focused, even though the products my be different. Additional experience in merchandising, staff training and many other areas. I also brought with me well honed knowledge of finance, buying and space management for maximising profit.
A structured approach to personnel management, lead us to gaining Investors in People status in 2006, more on this in a future post. People are important to Melanie and myself. We knew that when we took over our shop we wanted to get involved in our community. Early in our time we resurrected the Christmas Victorian Evening where the whole Community get involved. Since then I have been a school governor including a year as Chairman and am currently Chairman of the Town Council.
Our interest in the broader community extends to our range choices as we carry a great many locally produced and grown products. The local purchasing network has benefitted us as when we opened a coffee shop over the road from our shop, we had a ready made supply chain.
We have won a number of local and national retail awards including Independent Achievers Accademy Store of the Year, we must be doing something right!
After 9 years in Castle Cary life is definitely still exciting!