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Grantham Journal Big Interview: Downtown’s success is down to employees

By Judith Hawkins

Downtown management team - from left, Paul Marsh, June Parker, Lisa Bracey, Stephen Hurley and Marcus Meadows.
Downtown management team - from left, Paul Marsh, June Parker, Lisa Bracey, Stephen Hurley and Marcus Meadows.

Downtown is certainly a deserving winner of Employer of the Year, being part of the Oldrids group which employs a total of 750 staff across six stores.

Directors June Parker, Stephen Hurley and Marcus Meadows met with the Journal to discuss the success of the superstore, and how its management structure enables staff to progress through the business.

Why do you think Downtown was named Employer of the Year?

June: We do a lot of internal development and promotions. We have a talent pool of around 10 to 12 people a year who are put forward by the store managers, and will then work in different areas of the business to develop their skills. It gives them the chance to be involved in all areas of the business, and of course we then benefit from having multi-skilled staff.

Stephen: We also have regular forums where staff can give their opinions and any ideas on how to improve the business.

Marcus: From the executive team’s point of view we try to ensure that there is openness, honesty and mutual respect. We get out and talk to the teams – find out what makes their life difficult and where we can help to improve that, or what is working for them so we can replicate that across other sites.

At the awards you talked about maintaining the ethos of the business.

Stephen: Yes we are a big organisation, but still very much have the ethos of a family business.

June: We have long-serving staff, including some who have been with us since the start. And we like to get involved in the local community with fund-raising for local charities.

Marcus: We have dress down days, dress up days and baking days for charity – it’s always a great opportunity for the staff to have fun.

Retailers have gone through tough economic times recently. What has kept Downtown going?

Marcus: There was a certain anticipation of the downturn and what’s got us through it is the great team of people we’ve got. There have been challenging times but the level of service our teams deliver and their enthusiasm has carried us through. We also employ all of our own support staff, such as electricians and joiners, so when we need to make changes we can make it happen very quickly.

What can customers expect at Downtown?

Marcus: Our breadth of product is probably our unique selling point, and we’re able to offer great value as a consquence of our buying power. Customers can expect a friendly team of staff with great product knowledge. We are also launching a new online platform this summer which will enable more services like click and collect.

How did it feel to win the award for Employer of the Year?

June: It was very exciting, and we couldn’t wait to tell all the staff and share the excitement with them. The award is down to them.

For more go to www.oldrids.co.uk


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