Following postgraduate studies in marketing & production management, I joined the newly formed marketing team at Goldbergs, Scotland’s leading retailer which had 60 department & fashion stores and 400,000 store account cardholders. Any promotional ideas I came up with elicited the same reply; “Sounds good – watch the customers on Saturday to see how they react” (to the detriment of my budding football career!). My first lesson in putting theory into practice, and one which has influenced my thinking ever since.
From there I moved to CACI, a market analysis consultancy, where I helped set up their Scottish office and endeavoured to sell customer profiling, location analysis data and sales forecasting models to tight-fisted and cynical Scottish retailers and property developers; there I first heard the eternal question, “What’ll it dae for me, son?”, and learned that answering that question is the key to developing good accounts.
I was then persuaded to venture South and join Macarthy, which had 200 chemist shops,
40 health food stores, 12 manufacturing and wholesaling facilities and a turnover of £300 million. I was responsible for strategy & marketing, brand research & development, store design and refits, and space and merchandise planning. After we repositioned the business to focus on retailing and turned losses into strong profitability, it attracted attention from various competitors and eventually was acquired by Lloyds Chemists.
Having enjoyed observing people shopping and how this impacted on store design and performance, I switched to the retail supply side joining the store fixtures design & manufacturer, The Sloane Group; there I was personally responsible for researching and creating strategies and concepts for such clients as Asda, Comet, DSGI, Hasbro, Littlewoods/Index, NatWest Bank, Orange, Sainsbury and Tesco. And as a director helped to transform the company’s profitability through the application of Value Creation, 80/20 and Lean techniques.
In 2005 I terrified my wife by setting up my own company Business & Market Development Ltd – so far to her (and to my clients) satisfaction.
Clients include Artis Projects, Benchmark Fabrications, Eden Group, NEC Graphix, Quantum 4, Retec Interface, RUDI, Sloane Group, and The Clinton Partnership. And the work has alternated from the strategic to the tactical; from fundamental business reviews, through the creation of new marketing and business development platforms, to producing new sales presentations, brochures and websites.