‘Retail has to flow in the veins from within’
Q&A: Keith Irvine
Q: What's the best piece of business (or life) advice you've ever been given?
A: Down the years, I've been told to always listen to the customers' needs and requirements. And always gain as much product knowledge as possible so that you're confident in the delivery of that knowledge.
Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting up in independent retailing?
A: Retail has to flow in your veins, it's a hunger and desire and it has to come from within followed by excellent customer service.
Q: What was the best decision you have made in your career?
A: I always knew my career would be in retail and I always tried to remain within a family retail environment. You get more satisfaction and recognition there. I made a great decision to come here to Wardens and my job here is to make sure the staff have an enjoyable environment.
Q: If you weren't in this job, what would you be doing?
A: I think if I chose not to study business I would have gone into medicine and become a GP. It's working with people that I enjoy. It's giving a good service whether that's to customers, clients and patients. That's what I enjoy about my role.
Q: What are your hobbies/interests?
A: I've always played racquet sports and play badminton with friends regularly. I enjoy gardening but with a move soon I may not have as much space to do that. Walking and cycling are other activities that I enjoy.
Q: What was your last holiday? Where are you going next?
A: We have recently started to go to Italy. We've been to Tuscany, Lake Garda and Rome and we have really enjoyed it. Before that our family holidays were always in France, doing the Keycamp-style break, but now my daughters are older we have chosen different places, for a change. I think our next break will, again, be in Italy.
Q: What's your favourite sport and team?
A: I like to watch football and I'll be giving away my age when I say I am a big Leeds United supporter. I followed them in the 1970s and 1980s when they were doing well, but that's not so much the case now so I find myself following Liverpool.
Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?
A: I don't have a lot of time between work and travel, but I'm always following the local press and I always read specialist magazines that focus on homes, interior design, anything that's related to the departments in our store. I think that's important, to keep up to date, know what's happening, what the trends are and it's a challenge for me to keep connected to what's happening in other areas of the store.
Q: What's the biggest change you've witnessed in retail over the years?
A: I think we are facing challenges today with Brexit and a having no government. There's a challenge there to give people confidence to shop. Over the years too, competing with the multinationals has been difficult.
Q: How do you sum up working in independent retailing?
A: It's both a joy and a challenge and an industry I'm so happy to be part of.