Ulster Grocer

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Staying close to the shopper is really important

Desi Derby, wholesale marketing director, Musgrave Ireland & retail marketing director, NI

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BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE

Most of my career to date has been spent advertising-agency side, working primarily with retail, food manufacturing, government and environmental clients in both NI and ROI. In 2013 I joined Lidl Ireland to head up a new Strategic Development function. Then in 2016 I joined Musgrave, initially as head of marketing for NI and then onto my current role as marketing director.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

My role involves directing a team of marketing professionals to deliver strategic marketing plans for each of our brands, supporting the food leadership, local and sustainable and value pillars of our commercial plans. Musgrave works in partnership with over 200 independent retailers, so co-creating plans with our retail partners is key. Although a marketer at heart, I also enjoy responsibility for customer services and telesales and eCommerce in Musgrave MarketPlace ROI.

WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

The best part of my job is the people I work with on a daily basis – colleagues, agencies, suppliers and retail partners and seeing what we can achieve when we put our minds together. During Covid, central colleagues worked from home to protect the supply chain and reduce the spread of the virus to those colleagues in warehouse, transport and stores. Using Microsoft Teams and working from home has put a lot more meetings into the day, I suppose the ‘worst’ part of my job at the minute is readjusting back to the new normal.

BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY

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My day usually starts at 8am with a review of that day’s news and media clippings – you’re always looking to be ahead of the curve, so knowing what’s going on in the world and if you should react is a really good way to kick-off the day. Staying close to the shopper too is really important at Musgrave and so I also like to check-in with our customer and shopper panels on a daily basis. As a business we’re also committed to cross-functional delivery of our commercial plans so that requires lots of time building plans with trading and sales colleagues and of course our retailers.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

SuperValu and Centra has a long-standing partnership with Action Cancer, dating back to 2012. During this time over £3.3m has been raised to provide over 70,000 health checks and mammograms aboard the Big Bus. This service has supported a cancer diagnosis for over 300 asymptomatic women, whose cancer may have otherwise gone undetected. To be able to make such a powerful difference, literally saving lives, within a commercial organisation is a real privilege.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED WITH THE LOCAL RETAIL INDUSTRY?

Musgrave really embodies local for me, a sixth-generation family-owned business supporting other family businesses. We spend £160m annually on local food and drink, and work with over 3,000 local farmers and 150 local suppliers. Our brands make a big difference by supporting and sustaining local jobs, suppliers and by leaving a positive legacy in the communities we’re part of. That’s the power of local!

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

Living in Jordanstown, I’ve great access to the parks on the lough, so each day starts and finishes with a walk in the fresh air with my husband and the dog – it’s become my new ‘commute’. And of course, I’m now in holiday-planning mode, booking things ahead now that we’re hopefully getting back to normal. I think I’ve probably missed the freedom to travel most over the last two years.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW

When I was 14, I presented a local TV programme which aired on UTV called You’re On. A big highlight was interviewing the captain of the new Seacat catamaran, sailing from Belfast to Stranraer – that was the ‘big time’ when you’re 14!


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