EAMONN FERRYHome Improvements Business Manager of Leekes home department store group, headquartered at Llantrisant in Wales

On The Floor

What’s your background? I started work with Leekes as a Saturday job in the restaurant of our Crosshands store. I then moved to working in the store’s warehouse, eventually being promoted to warehouse manager. From there I was promoted to inventory manager with responsibility for the management of all elements of stock throughout the store. I then undertook the role of group transport manager for the business before returning to the shop floor as business unit manager, firstly for the installations side of our business and latterly for the home improvements departments. In this role I identified the opportunity to grow the trade side of our business substantially, and became business development manager for trade. Through all of these roles I have worked in

our Crosshands and Melksham stores as well as our head office. I briefly left the business to try a different role but returned as I was offered the [post of] business manager for the home improvement departments.

Tell us a bit about Leekes. Leekes is a family run home department store which has been established for over 100 years and is still run by the Leeke family. The Leekes values are to operate with integrity, be responsive to our customers’ needs, and offer inspirational ideas for the home and excellence in the quality of our product.

How would you describe your product mix? Everything for the home: from the bricks and blocks to build it, the kitchens and bathrooms within it, to the furniture and accessories to furnish it.

What product categories do you cover? Home Improvements which includes Building Centre; decorative products such as paint and wallpaper; and DIY and household products.

October/November 2019

How many suppliers do you deal with? As I need to cater for every building and home improvement need, my area is very diverse and I deal with around 200 suppliers. The key household brands in my area are Addis, Brabantia and Wham - although we also deal with suppliers such as Joseph Joseph, Simplehuman, Meyer and similar high quality brands in other areas of our business.

“We are effectively a one-stop shop for the home”

What lines have you stocked recently? We are performing particularly well on volume storage products and have also brought in a new floor mat category this year, which is performing really well.

Who is your typical customer? Our customers are based in Wales and the south-west of England but we have a widely spread age profile, as it is based on home improvement projects. We offer high quality brands at the best possible prices and our customers are therefore looking for high quality but value for money.

What additional services do you provide? We have a website and an interior design service, sell gift vouchers, and can offer home

visits to plan bathrooms or kitchens. We are effectively a one-stop shop for the home.

What’s keeping you busy? I’m completing a full review of our wallpaper offering with some fantastic new brands and price points coming in soon. We are also putting new branded decorative tool displays in- store and working on ensuring that all of our product offering is available for sale on our website.

What’s on your agenda? In a rapidly changing market, my priority is to make sure that we are competitively priced and evolving with our customers’ needs.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? As I’ve worked in a wide variety of roles within the business, I enjoy pulling it all together by making sure we have the right product available to buy at the right time, and working with the store and head office teams to make sure it’s displayed in the best possible way for our customers.

What’s the most challenging part of your job? Working with such a wide portfolio can be very challenging.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in housewares retailing? I would say that it would be useful to spend time working on the shop floor before moving into buying and to fully understand customers’ needs - and the operation of a retail site. | 17

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