Boots, Donegall Place
What is your job and what does it entail?
I am the general manager of the Boots store on Donegall Place. Within this role I am accountable for the overall performance of the Donegall Place store, as well as being responsible for the financial performance of the regional flagship stores, which are amongst the largest in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
How did you get into this line of work?
I qualified as a pharmacist 22 years ago, after completing my degree at Queen's University Belfast. I initially worked for Boots in England, before returning to Northern Ireland where I was employed by Connors Chemists. I rejoined Boots in 1998 as an area manager for small stores, and was later appointed to my current role as the general manager in Belfast.
What sort of training and experience do you have that has been essential for your role?
Prior to joining Boots, I headed up both the buying and operations divisions at Connors Chemists. I also undertook a post-graduate course in accounting and finance to expand my knowledge and expertise within my field. Since rejoining Boots I have also been on many development and leadership courses.
What qualities make a good store manager for a company like Boots?
I would say the key quality is being customer-led. It's essential to retain a keen focus on how we look after customers in store, and how my management team delivers on customer care daily. Leadership and accountability are also essential as these qualities provide the motivation, support, and encouragement for my team to deliver, and help me to develop and nurture the next generation of managers within the business.
What would you say is the best thing about your job?
Probably the variety, as no two days are ever the same. Some days I will be in meetings across the UK, and other days I will be based on the shop floor. For instance, we recently launched the much anticipated Tony Ferguson Weightloss programme, exclusive to Boots. We have already received promising feedback from our customers.
What challenges have you recently faced in managing a busy Boots Store?
We are currently undergoing a full refit of the store, which will turn our existing three-floors into a new and improved two-floor store. Our challenge is to undertake the refit without closing the store, and ensure that our customers continue to find the products and services they visit us for during this short period of disruption.
What measures have you taken to improve the business?
We are relocating our pharmacy to the first floor as part of the refit, to enable us to provide professional healthcare advice alongside our optician's service, thus keeping our professional services in the same area.
We will also be introducing a new beauty hall, providing new skincare consultation, and offering the option of speedier payment with the introduction of self checkout tills.
What are your long-term hopes for the store?
Boots has been trading in Belfast for over 40 years, and our business in Donegall Place has been well-supported by customers throughout this time. My hope is that it will continue to provide products and services that are valued long into the future.
Do you have any professional ambitions yet to realise?
The opportunity of an internal role within a divisional team is certainly appealing.
What are your interests outside of work?
I am married to Maria and have two boys, Fintan and Conor. I have two passions outside of work, travel and sport, so we love to combine both interests by going on family skiing holidays. I was sport mad as a child, and still play five-a-side football from time-to-time. These days most of my time is spent watching the boys play; it's less painful on the joints!
Who or what has inspired you in your career or life in general?
I am inspired by strong leadership, either in business, sport, or politics -- people who have a clear vision of where they want to get to, and the self-belief and confidence to make it happen.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
A man once said to me, "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can achieve today." He was the late Sir Allen McClay, chairman of Connors Chemists, and during my time there he was a great leader, and a great man.