Richard Houlton, UK & Ireland director of channels of Clarks lets Retail Week walk a mile in his shoes as he talks about his life in retail.

What was your first job in retailing?                          

Working behind the music counter selling vinyl at WHSmith, Yeovil in 1990.

Which retail company do you admire most and why?

Santé – an independent wine import retailer in Wells, Somerset. David, the owner, knows both his wines and his customers (individually) and brings that knowledge together to make my wine buying – and drinking – that much more pleasurable.

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

My desire to know everything.

Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?

Customers – they always call it straight.

What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?

Be inquisitive every day, and never be satisfied with an unsatisfactory answer.

What keeps you awake at night?

My chickens, sheep, dog, rabbits and kids.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Celebrating the success of our teams. We recently had seven individuals/teams shortlisted for the Retail Week Rising Stars Awards, which was brilliant.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Getting this job three years ago. It brings together our online, retail, franchise and wholesale channels. Forget multichannel or omnichannel – this is one brand operating in a consistent and recognisable manner agnostic to channel.

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

A policeman, which shows the inquisitive side in me.

What’s your favourite shop and why?

Clarks’ new concept store in Manchester’s Trafford Centre. It is the first time that we have delivered a store that really starts to bring our brand alive and make our shoes the hero of the experience.

What was your last purchase?

A pair of Clarks Originals desert boots.

  • Richard Houlton, UK & Ireland director of channels, Clarks