Simon Webster, finance director of Nisa tells Retail Week about his love of Hamley’s and advice for those starting out in retail.
What was your first job in retailing?
Working as a weekend DIY assistant at the Ramsdens superstore in Grimsby.
Which retail company do you admire most and why?
I admire Next retail. It has a very clear brand and provides shoppers with a convenient service offering good quality products at the click of a button.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
I am extremely competitive, with a real desire to achieve, which sometimes means I push myself too hard.
Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?
The previous owner and finance director at seafood producer Icelandic Group UK was incredibly influential at the start of my retail/manufacturing career. The knowledge he gave me has helped me develop further.
What advice would you give someone starting in retail?
There are big opportunities within the industry, but you need to be committed and ready to go that extra mile.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
All of it. I love being the finance director of a member-owned organisation. It sometimes presents challenges but it is very interesting.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Within my role at Nisa, it has to be the refinancing that gave the business access to a multi-product solution, allowing us to continue our growth strategy. In previous roles, successfully leading the finance function through the Icelandic banks crash in 2008.
What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer?
I always wanted to work in finance, so it may be just in a different field.
What’s your favourite shop and why?
Hamleys – the history surrounding the store and the theatre it creates is fantastic and means it will always have a good customer base, as it is seen as more of an attraction than just a store.