Alla Buinowicz, managing director at Taking Shape, speaks to Retail Week about her life working in retail.
What was your first job in retailing?
I was an assistant buyer at Myer, Australia’s biggest department store group.
Which retail company do you admire most and why?
I can only give you a biased answer - Taking Shape. We are a group of can-do, fun people who absolutely love our customers.
What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?
Now now, a girl is not going to give all her secrets away.
Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?
I have surrounded myself with passionate people who love what they do and love our customers. I listen to and learn from them every day.
What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?
Listen to your customers. It’s the golden rule in retail. If you don’t they will eventually go to a retailer that does.
What keeps you awake at night?
My concerns are always in three buckets: are our staff happy? Are our customers happy? Are our owners happy?
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
When I receive the hundreds of pieces of customer feedback each month thanking us for the service we provide, the confidence we create and the relationships we build each day in our stores, then I know we are doing a great job.
What’s your proudest achievement?
In becoming the managing director of Taking Shape nine years ago I took on my dream job. In that time we have grown from 24 stores in Australia to more than 140 in Australia, New Zealand and now the UK.
What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer?
I have always had a not-so-secret desire to be a hair stylist.
What’s your favourite shop and why?
I have to be biased once more. Taking Shape.
What was your last purchase?
Some souvenirs from London for my teenage son.