Gurdial Flora, group director of property, NBTY Europe - owner of Holland & Barrett - speaks to Retail Week about his life in retail.

What was your first job in retailing?

Designing, painting and decorating Christmas windows for shops in Leicester.

Which retail company do you admire most and why?

It has to be John Lewis for the customer service, an excellent multichannel experience and great ranging.

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


Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?

I’ve learnt the most from NBTY Europe’s board directors Peter Aldis and Roger Craddock.

What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?

Retail can be a cut-throat industry and is constantly changing, so be flexible and learn from successful people around you.

What keeps you awake at night?

The high street as we know it is evolving. NBTY operates 913 stores in Europe and ensuring that our estate is in perfect harmony can be challenging. Our property strategy helps keep this operating smoothly by making sure both short- and long-term needs are met.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Knowing that my department has contributed significantly to the growth of our business through things like occupancy cost reduction projects and new store acquisitions.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Professionally, being made a member of our trading board aged 31. Personally, being happily married with three lovely kids.

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

Fund management (property investment).

What’s your favourite shop and why?

Brooks Brothers on Regent Street - good quality clothes and good customer service.

What was your last purchase?

A pair of wellingtons. Holland & Barrett sponsors the National Forest and we were planting a new woodland.