Sarah Halliday, Channel Sales Manager for Henderson Group, owners and operators of the SPAR and EUROSPAR Brands in Northern Ireland, is one such committed and engaged SPAR colleague and a shining example of what we like to call, a SPAR Star. We spoke to Sarah about her background in retail and her career development with SPAR, which spans an impressive 17 years.
Walk us through your retail journey to date
I am a Retail Management graduate and have been working in the retail industry since 1996. After graduating from the University of Ulster Coleraine, I joined the pharmacy chain, Boots, and spent four years in various roles from a Supervisor in Coleraine to managing stores in Magherafelt and Newry. My final position with Boots was a specialist role training Supervisors to become more sales focused and helping them to achieve sales and profit targets.
After a number of years with Boots, I decided it was time for a new challenge. In 2000, I saw a position at SPAR which looked a challenging and innovative role and so I applied for the job and have never looked back. What a journey the last 17 years have been!
Tell us about your current position
I am currently the Channel Sales Manager at Hendersons. In this role I am in charge of key SPAR accounts and I’m responsible for maintaining relationships with business partners. I have been in this position since 2012.
I manage a team of 12 people, four Regional Managers and eight Business Development Managers. I have a great team of very supportive colleagues who are a pleasure to work with. I believe the secret to being a good manager is to be supportive, encouraging, motivational and most importantly, honest.
What does your job entail?
A typical day for me involves visiting our retailers in their stores, walking the floor with them and looking at ways to improve sales. We discuss marketing plans and how to improve store layouts – analysing space versus sales to ensure that every part of a store is being put to good use.
Another big part of my job involves supporting our retailers to become more profitable. We review their quarterly accounts and agree on the actions required to ensure positive results. This allows our retailers to continually invest in their businesses in the right way.
What are the key challenges of your role?
Investment is the biggest challenge but it also provides the biggest opportunities. A large part of what the last 17 years have taught me is that you need to invest in your business or it will quickly slip away from you. Our retailers need to ‘future proof’ their businesses and the support we provide at Hendersons helps them to do just that.
The expectations of consumers are high and they are faced with a lot of choice. My challenge is to make sure that SPAR is their number one choice by helping our retailers provide shoppers with the largest selection of fresh food, in the most attractive and modern stores with the best customer service.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The best part of my job is getting to work with a great bunch of hard working people, from my colleagues within the Henderson Group to the retailers that choose to be with SPAR. I lead a team of people who are dedicated to delivering innovative ideas for over 120 stores – positively impacting their turnover and profit. The best reward is seeing a well thought out marketing plan, store extension project or instore refit turn out as you had hoped it would and seeing the sales and profitability of a retailer continue to grow.
What are the most important developments in your retail career to date?
Every position I have had within SPAR has been a positive challenge and has helped me grow both personally and professionally. The transition into my current role has probably been the biggest step for me. It is a more strategic role in which I continuously have to think of ways to add value to our retailers’ businesses and SPAR as a whole.
Any advice for future SPAR Managers?
Work hard and get involved in new challenges that take you out of your comfort zone. By doing this I have learnt something new every day and with every plan and decision I make, I have our retailers and SPAR at the forefront of my mind.
This story was first published in issue 4 2017 of our quarterly magazine, Contact International.
To read more stories from this edition, follow this link.