17 May, 2017

The art of running a successful department

We asked three of our Section Managers about the art of running a successful retail department, here’s what they say.

What’s the difference between a shopper stopping to pick up a purchase and walking on by to another area of the store? For Suzanne, Menswear & Kidswear Section Manager at our Taunton store, it’s a mix of commercial sensitivity, people management and customer care.

“My ultimate job is to drive sales by making sound commercial decisions and ensuring my team delivers excellent customer service at all times,” she says. “Working in such a fast-moving commercial environment, interacting daily with both staff and customers, every day is different.”

These shifting trading patterns mean it’s vital for our Section Managers to be open to trying something new to engage our customers. Suzanne offers an example: “Following the closure of a local competitor’s store, we increased our Back To School footage and moved it out of Kidswear. That didn’t just drive sales; it enhanced the shopping experience for parents. They were able to get what they needed more easily.”

Amelia, Food Section Manager at our Haslemere store, has a similarly shrewd commercial eye. “I was looking after a Coffee To Go in a new store and desperate to push sales of our amazing smoothies. They weren’t detailed on our menu board at the time, so I got the team to walk around the store and local area, offering free tastings.”

The results were there for all to see in a bump in that day’s Hospitality takings. And while the idea may have been Amelia’s, she is in no doubt where the real credit lies. “What I love about the job is leading a team and developing people to reach their potential. If you get your team engaged, the rest often follows – especially here at M&S, where teamwork is so important.”

The reward of developing people is a recurring theme talking to our Section Managers. “There’s nothing better than developing a team member who goes on to have a retail career at M&S, something they may never have considered previously,” says Amelia.

Likewise, Eron runs Hospitality at our Interchange Bedford store and enjoys nothing more than bringing on his team. “I want my customer assistants to be passionate about their area and keen to step up to a Section Coordinator role, then aim for Section Manager. It’s all about taking pride in the section… and that begins with me.”

So, what is it that makes our Section Managers love their job and be so proud to work for M&S? Suzanne, Amelia and Eron are unanimous in their praise of our working culture. For Eron it’s a “great work-life balance and a company that genuinely appreciates its employees.” And we’re sure he appreciates having every other weekend off too. Suzanne enthuses about “strong, passionate teamwork, striving to do the best for our customers and staff.”

Perhaps Amelia puts it best: “We work hard but we’re not afraid to have a smile while doing so. Oh, and then there are the lemon muffins in the Food Hall!”

For more information on our Section Manager opportunities and to apply, click here.

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