Taking over the reins at BrightHouse has been an absolute privilege and one that I am relishing. But with privilege comes a ‘to do’ list that never seems to get any shorter.

Sometimes this new role feels intimidating and onerous because the decisions I make on a daily basis directly affect many thousands of people.

So it’s essential to break down the big issues and challenges we face into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks that can be readily solved.

‘‘One of the hardest tasks I’ve undertaken so far has been the review of our store estate. It’s been difficult because all of our stores positively contribute to the overall success of the firm in one way or another”

One of the hardest tasks I’ve undertaken so far has been the review of our store estate. It’s been difficult because all of our stores positively contribute to the overall success of the firm in one way or another.

But it became very clear to me on my appointment as chief executive that BrightHouse had expanded too quickly in recent years. Our estate is simply too big.

As you might have read, we recently decided to close 29 stores across the country. We think this gives the business the best chance of future success and growth, while still supporting our customers and local communities as effectively as possible.

In many ways making this decision was the easy bit, because I know it is absolutely the right thing to do. The hard part has been telling our people and especially those immediately affected by the decision.

True engagement

The temptation in such a situation might be to send out an email and leave the rest to the operations team. But having worked at BrightHouse for more than a decade, across a range of areas, I understood the impact such a decision would have.

This is why I decided to spend more than a week travelling up and down the UK, explaining to our store managers how this tough decision will ultimately put the company in a better position for the future.

The conversations were very challenging. Understandably there was a lot of worry and concern associated with the store closures.

‘‘Without a shadow of a doubt, that time with our teams has been the most important of my tenure so far. It is something I plan to repeat regularly because of the insight it provided”

A number of the sessions went on for a couple of hours as our people rightly probed our plans.

The levels of engagement we witnessed, the desire to understand how they could help the firm to grow and win new customers, was truly humbling. I learned a lot.

Without a shadow of a doubt, that time with our teams has been the most important of my tenure so far. It is something I plan to repeat regularly because of the insight it provided.

It was draining but wasn’t without its lighter moments. It certainly brings you down to earth when you have to start running because one of your senior colleagues drops you off at the wrong train station in Glasgow.

Or when you arrive at your hotel in Birmingham at the end of a long day to find it is full and you’re booked in for the following night. Perhaps there are more opportunities to improve our efficiency…