Stephen Robertson, non-executive director at Timpson Group, speaks to Retail Week about his life working in retail.
What was your first job in retailing?
My first job was when I was a boy. My parents owned a fish and chip shop, I served behind the counter.
What is the trait you least like in yourself?
I’m terribly impatient, I always want to get stuff done tomorrow but I think that’s part of being in retail.
Who have you learnt most from in your retail career?
Lots of folk, very often it’s store managers you see with extraordinary insights and you think “I should have learnt that before”. If I was going to choose one person then perhaps it’s Ian Cheshire.
I worked with him for a long time as we set up our online businesses. He is a remarkable man in so many ways.
What advice would you give someone starting out in retail?
Never lose touch with the customer. It’s really easy sometimes, as you get buried in the detail, particularly when you are starting out, to forget that the point of retail is to buy and sell stuff.
What keeps you awake at night?
Absolutely nothing. I’m always completely knackered.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Seeing a business grow and succeed, and the customer - people coming into the store. Also, the development stories of individuals within your team who grow into fabulous retailers.
What is your proudest achievement?
I think it’s leading the acquisition of Screwfix when I was on the board of B&Q.
What is your favourite shop and why?
There is a small record shop in Bristol that I love going into. It’s a bit of a mess…it breaks every rule of retailing but the guy who owns the shop has incredible knowledge, you can chat to him for hours. I’m afraid I’m probably the best customer and my wife hates the amount of junk I buy.
What was your last purchase?
A scratched Led Zeppelin record from the record shop.