Chief executive, The Garden Centre Group

What was your first job in retailing?

When I was eight years old at prep school, my friends and I ran out of pocket money. We set up a market in our classroom and sold sweets, old comics and ran a number of entertainments including a terrifying ghost train, which was constructed of desks and blankets.

Which retail company do you admire most and why?

Tesco, because it is far-sighted enough to have invested in the most rewarding form of retailing, garden centres.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I can, occasionally, be very single-minded, which is very boring for everyone else.

Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?

The customer.

What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?

Work in an area of retail that you really love and are enthusiastic about, otherwise you will join the ranks of red brick retailers whose sincerity is about as thin as the hair on their head.

What keeps you awake at night?


What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Chatting to customers and members of staff about plants and gardening, particularly if it ends up in a sale.

What’s your proudest achievement?

My children.

What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer?

I intend to follow my other career choices once I’ve made a success of running garden centres. They include rock star, gamekeeper and author.

What’s your favourite shop and why?

The farmers co-op in Brecon, because it has everything I need although the wine’s a bit iffy. I also meet my neighbours, have a nice chat about the weather and the staff are knowledgeable and friendly.

What was your last purchase?

A rose named Cariad, which is Welsh for love.