Susan Sinclair, divisional manager at Foyles, speaks to Retail Week about her life working in retail.
What was your first job in retailing?
A bookselling job in Sydney, which I held while I did my Masters degree in Australia.
Which retail company do you admire most and why?
I love Rough Trade. It has diversified its offer and prospered without compromising its independent ethos.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I find it very difficult to let go of every single detail, which can seem pedantic although it does come in handy.
Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?
My former boss at Borders, who had over 20 years of book retail experience.
What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?
Don’t even consider working in retail if you don’t love engaging with customers - a good retailer thrives on finding out what their customers want and moving heaven and earth to get it for them.
What keeps you awake at night?
An unhappy staff member or an unhappy customer.
I become obsessed with finding solutions, fixing problems and avoiding repeat occurrences.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
Working with books, working with people who love books and making a customer smile when we’ve found them the perfect title.
What’s your proudest achievement?
I feel I’ve been instrumental in developing the boutique shop model at Foyles.
What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer?
I would have loved to try academia, lecturing in English. Failing that, my true dream job is to be a successful writer.
What’s your favourite shop and why?
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath - it’s a truly magical place.
What was your last purchase?
Cloud Atlas, as a gift for a friend.