Meet The Team: Steve Schaap, Head of FMCG Recruitment

Tell us about your career so far?

I spent my early career in print advertising working for major newspapers in the US.  I was a territory manager looking after geographical areas in Colorado, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska – where I was born.

When I moved to the UK in 2008, after settling in, I decided to make a career change to recruitment.  I started working for a generalist agency and really liked the work, however it was clear to me that a specialism was the way forward.  In 2016, I started with an agency specialising in food manufacturing, recruiting interim and permanent managers up to Managing Director level, and I have enjoyed working in that market ever since.

I joined GCS earlier this year, in the newly opened office in Loughborough. I am very pleased to join the business at this exciting time of growth and look forward to contributing to its continued success.

What are your specialist sectors at GCS Associates?

I am currently Head of FMCG. I recruit manufacturing roles, specialising in food manufacturing and have experience across other consumable manufacturing. I specialise in both interim and permanent placement and typical roles I recruit are Development Technologists, Process Managers, Business Unit Managers and Shift Managers (to name a few!)

Tell me about how you help clients/ candidates?

I help my clients by offering them simple, honest and knowledgeable solutions. My clients usually call me because they have an immediate problem that needs an immediate solution.  They expect me to understand their problem whether it be related to Operations, Engineering, Process or anything else related to their manufacturing site.

Steve Schaap, Head of FMCG

My candidates benefit from working with a consultant that knows the industry and has a history of working with integrity.

What do you do outside of work?

When we are not fighting a global pandemic, my wife and I like to travel and spend time with our family and friends.

If you are looking to recruit or considering a new job within food manufacturing, I’d love to hear from you!

CONTACT STEVE IF YOU ARE HIRING IN 2021 OR WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS FINDING A NEW ROLE. 

e: steve.schaap@gcsassociates.com
t: 07309 659 339


GCS Associates Open Second Office in Loughborough, East Midlands

We are excited to announce GCS has opened our second office based in Loughborough, East Midlands – the team is focusing on Executive Recruitment within our current sectors but also Food and FMCG, utilising the extensive networks of the new team.

We’re pleased to welcome Tony Llewellyn and Steve Schaap who, between them, have over 40 years’ experience in recruitment across Food, FMCG, Manufacturing and Construction Supply sectors. They bring a wealth of experience to the business, with a particular focus on Executive Search & permanent and interim recruitment services across all disciplines; Operations, Sales, Logistics/Procurement, Technical and Finance.

Tony Llewellyn, Commercial Director, GCS Associates comments,

“We have nearly 40 years of recruiting experience between us, we know what good looks like and strive to constantly achieve the very best service to all our candidates and clients. Most of our work is based around exclusive partnerships with our clients and this inevitably results in a higher quality and more transparent experience and result for the candidates, the clients and ourselves as recruiters. Both Steve and I are very pleased to join GCS Associates at this exciting time of growth and look forward to contributing to its continued success.”

Michael Parry, Managing Director, GCS Associates comments,

“The recruitment market, across our current sectors of Builder Merchants, Construction, Hire and Building Supplies, has been extremely buoyant, and we’re pleased to report that these sectors are flourishing post-pandemic after a very uncertain 2020!

This increased level of activity and demand for talent has resulted in GCS needing to increase its headcount and, most significantly, opening a second office location in the East Midlands. Our new Loughborough office, where we are welcoming Tony Llewellyn and Steve Schaap, is focusing on Executive Recruitment within our current sectors, and branching out into FMCG and Food Manufacturing. Both Tony and Steve bring great experience and contacts along with fantastic professionalism & reputations within their sectors.  With their addition and the opening of the new office we are really ramping up our service offering to candidates and clients alike now and in the future.”

For more information on how GCS Associates can help your business recruit the best talent in the market, contact Tony Llewellyn.

e: tony.llewellyn@gcsassociates.com
t: 07809 433 882


Senior Leader Interview 2021: Mark Nottingham, Travis Perkins

From Driver to Director, Mark Nottingham at Travis Perkins shares insight from his 40+ years in the Builders Merchant industry – discussing the positive changes in the areas of Diversity and Digitalisation, and why customers should always come first.

Where did you start your career?

I have worked in the industry for forty years – joining Travis Perkins when they acquired the Independent Merchant I was working for in the late 80s. I started out in the yard, but my first week was spent working with a sales representative – ringing customers & trying to sell products. Then in my second week, the Yard Foreman drilled into me that if a customer got out of his van and I wasn’t standing next to him ready to sell then I’d failed!

I hated my first two weeks at work. But it taught me customers were the reason I was there, and my job was the same as every other colleague – we were all there to sell stuff. That lesson has stayed with me all this time.

What has changed most in the industry over your career?

So much has changed over the years. When I was a Driver, we would unload products by hand due to access or quality of the crane. Now we have so many types of vehicles to meet customer requirements such as moffats and rear mounted cranes. Technology has moved on significantly and we’re keeping up with the demand from customers wanting to order online. This demand is only set to increase.

We are now an industry attracting so many great people from a far more diverse workforce which is such a rewarding step forward. With all genders in almost every job role from Drivers to Managing Directors, and we have colleagues from such a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and disabilities. Everyone is made to feel welcome and part of the team. This was not the case in my early years and is such a welcome transformation.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career was becoming Regional Managing Director in 2001 and being responsible for about 180 Branches working with a team of about 7000 colleagues. I think I have always remained humble and treated all with respect and dignity, we are all one team, and we win together.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

My advice to any new starters in the industry would is

“Come to work each day with a great attitude, make a difference and remember that customers are our day job – they are the reason we are here. Customers and suppliers will become your friends which will make your job rewarding. Aim as high as possible – you are in control of your journey so it’s up to you to realise your potential”.

What advice can you give leaders when managing businesses and teams through times of uncertainty?

The pandemic has hurt so many businesses, but the vast majority of Builders Merchants have come out of the other side even stronger. We are a very fortunate industry; our lockdown was short, and many builders carried on. During the pandemic it was critical that we gave strong and clear leadership, many colleagues were uncertain and were looking for help and direction.

We tried very hard to communicate on a regular basis on what’s being done, what needs to be done and what help was needed. It was a time for some bold decisions and using lockdown time to fix some of the things that you would never normally get around to.

What’s next for you?

I am now enjoying semi-retirement and working two days a week supporting Travis Perkins on some new initiatives which is very exciting. I have also taken up playing golf, so I hope I can use this to keep in close contact with many of my work friends.

IF YOU ARE HIRING IN 2021 OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON OUR RECRUITMENT SERVICES CONTACT MICHAEL PARRY.

e: michael.parry@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


Meet The Team: Adam Hewitt, Recruitment Consultant

Tell us about your career so far?
After leaving University in Leeds I didn’t really have a plan. I studied Sport and Business Management then worked in an estate agent for a couple of years before spending a year travelling the world – which I’d recommend to everyone!

I then had the opportunity to join GCS where I have now worked for 5 years. I haven’t looked back, I love working within the recruitment industry and especially like working with the people within our specialist sectors across construction and merchants.

Why did you join GCS
I was looking for a new role and I was put in touch with Mike Parry, Managing Director at GCS. He sold me the dream of working in recruitment and helping find people new jobs! I was keen for a new challenge and after learning more about recruitment I realised there would never be a dull day.

After speaking with Mike I knew that GCS would be the right place for me to develop and be part of a growing business.

What are your main responsibilities at GCS?
Over the years my role has changed. Originally, my job was to source & screen candidates for the vacant roles briefed into GCS from clients. Building and maintaining good relationships with candidates is important given the niche sector and it’s what I enjoy most about the job. It’s always a good day when you can tell someone they have been successful in securing a new role!

In regard to sectors, I specialise within Builders Merchants and Equipment Hire companies and predominantly recruit for sales, management and engineering roles.

What kind of roles are you recruiting for?
Given the recovery and fast movement in the market right now, it’s no surprise many companies are investing in new talent within their sales teams. We have a number of internal sales, account management and business development roles available across the country at all levels.

It’s a candidate market right now so if you are looking to move jobs, please get in touch. There’s a lot of demand for talent within the sectors at the moment so now is the time to secure the new job and salary package you might be looking for.

What’s the best thing about working at GCS? 
GCS is also a really nice place to work – we’re given the trust and independence to manage our own days but help and support is always there when needed.

The best thing about my role securing new jobs for people! Being able to find the right person for our clients’ needs is important so it is always a great feeling when this happens.

What do you get up to outside of work?
Sport pretty much takes over outside of work however my girlfriend, Maisie and I are expecting a baby later in year which we are very pleased and excited about! At the moment, I play rugby at Wilmslow Wolves and try my hand at golf occasionally! Mike and I play tennis together too which can get quite competitive but I usually win!

CONTACT ADAM IF YOU ARE HIRING IN 2021 OR WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS FINDING A NEW ROLE. 

e: adam.hewitt@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


GCS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE PLEDGE TO HELP SECTOR GET BACK TO WORK AFTER COVID-19

During COVID-19 many of our friends, colleagues and peers within the Construction & Building Supply sectors have been affected by redundancies. As specialist recruiters in these areas, GCS acted by pledging their recruitment services, free of charge, to help as many people as possible back into employment. GCS completed the pledge recently by getting 21 people back into employment for 2021

Michael Parry, GCS Managing Director explained; “The reasons we decided to launch the initiative were two-fold: Firstly, we were inundated with calls from great people in our sector, not used to finding themselves out of work, who found themselves in quite serious dire straits. Secondly, last year there was a very real sense of coming together within society, and this was equally prevalent within our sector.

A lot of our clients were making very generous charitable contributions and we wanted to do our bit.  We were in a unique position where we could really help some of those suffering due to Covid related redundancies.  If we were able to get a few people back into employment whilst helping fill critical roles for our clients free of charge, we were happy – we wanted to give back to our sector!”

Many businesses took part or supported the GCS Pledge – Travis Perkins, Huws Gray, GAP Group, Sunbelt Rentals, The Bradfords Group, Encon to name just a few. The Builders Merchant Federation also kindly supported GCS in spreading the message and whilst also helping run a similar scheme in the CLC’s Construction Industry Talent Retention scheme.

One of the final few pledge placements were made with Huws Gray, a leading independent builders merchants in North Wales & the North West. Huws Gray employed 2 people as part of the initiative and Terry Owen, Huws Gray Managing Director said;

“GCS reached out to us about their pledge to get people made redundant due to the pandemic back into employment.  To offer up their time and resources without charge I found highly commendable, and we were happy to support this worthwhile initiative.  I am pleased to say we have our GCS Pledge candidates working for us and we’re really happy with these new hires.”

Michael Parry, Managing Director, GCS

Having recently completed the pledge GCS want to thank everyone who supported the initiative. Michael Parry commented;

 “We are pleased we’ve contributed to help our sectors recover from the impact of COVID. 21 people isn’t a huge number, but we know it meant a huge amount to those few.  I would like to say a big thank you to the BMF for endorsing the pledge, thank you to all those businesses that supported the initiative and of course, a big congratulations to those people who have successfully embarked on their new career via the GCS Pledge of 21”

 

IF YOU ARE HIRING IN 2021 OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON OUR RECRUITMENT SERVICES CONTACT MICHAEL PARRY.

e: michael.parry@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


Celebrating International Women’s Day: An Interview with Cath Mullin, Regional Director at The Bradfords Group

GCS Associates is proud to champion International Women’s Day 2021 and promote the on-going growth in diversity across our specialist sectors. We ask Cath Mullin, Regional Director at The Bradfords Group a few questions on her experience achieving success in the Building Supplies industry, and what advice she has for women entering the workforce today.

Where did you start your career?

I began my merchanting career in 1997 as a management trainee with Travis Perkins.  I only intended to take the job for 2 years as it gave me a HND in Business and saved me the time and money of going to University!  After a short amount of time, I realised how much I enjoyed the industry.  I was recognised by senior management and was given the opportunity to move into external sales, quickly progressing to sales management.  In 2013 I successfully applied for the Sales Director position in Travis Perkins South West & Wales Region.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Travis Perkins but moved on shortly after a restructure.  I joined Bradford’s in 2016, initially as a Sales Director and have since moved into a Regional Director role, covering my home patch of Devon & Cornwall.

What attracted you to this sector?

Initially I was attracted by the management trainee scheme but having now completed 24 years in the industry, I can safely say what keeps me firmly attracted to builders merchants are the people – colleagues and customers.  Every day is varied and has its challenges, but I have a great network of friends and colleagues who are there to help when needed.  Being female has never impeded my ability to progress whatsoever.

What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you?

Go with your gut instinct, don’t procrastinate in taking decisive action.  Enjoy every day and find a positive in every experience.  There will always be ups and downs, but it is your gift to make each day count.  Have a great attitude and ask questions, this will develop knowledge and bring confidence to your future roles.

Are their challenges or opportunities in working in a male dominated, or what’s perceived to be a male dominated sector?

‎In this industry, experience and knowledge counts. In my early days, people would be inquisitive and ask “how does a young woman like you end up in a place like this?”. As time goes on and you prove yourself through hard work, commitment, and determination; people stop asking that question. ‎

 

‎The experience and knowledge develop confidence, your reputation begins to proceed you and people recognise that. I have never approached a situation thinking what my male counterparts would do, you approach it based on your experience, learning and personal development.

Leading people is the same regardless of industry, so if you can develop this talent – you’re winning!‎

Have you ever had a mentor?

I’ve never had one officially, however an old boss, who retired years ago, has always been on hand for guidance and support, when needed.  Equally my current friends and colleagues in both my present and previous employment have always been great in this area.

How important is Diversity and Inclusion to The Bradford’s Group?

Hugely important.  We have many young women working in our business and not just the stereotypical admin roles, most of my great sales teams include women and they are certainly a match for their male counterparts!!

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers or is there anything else you’d like to share?

Be Brave, Be Confident.  Stay strong and determined and anything is possible.

Ask questions and think about the people at the centre of every decision your make.  Find your way to be the best people person you can, and this will help in absolutely any career you choose.


Looking for a new challenge or to recruit in 2021?
Contact Michael Parry: 

e: michael.parry@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


Don’t put your Career in Construction on Hold Because of COVID-19

For many of us, life feels like it is on hold now. We are going through the motions, getting through the day to day, just waiting for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic so we can hit reset and begin normal life again.

We hear this all the time from our candidates. People who were planning their ambitious career plans before the pandemic struck, talented people with in-demand skills within the Construction, Building Supplies & Hire sectors, have put all ambitions on hold.

“There’s too much uncertainty.”

We understand. Limiting risk is a natural response in difficult times. The media is full of stories about the damage the COVID-19 is doing to the economy as well as to people’s health, with job losses and many construction projects on hold. It doesn’t take much to see why people feel safer staying where they are.

But that doesn’t mean putting your career plans on hold is right decision. In fact, there are good reasons why you should think again about resurrecting those plans.

There is no time like the present

12 months ago, we didn’t think the pandemic would still be impacting our lives in such a significant way. COVID-19 is likely to have changed working practices and socialising for ever. Whether it gets better or worse in the coming months, if you had reasons for wanting to make a change in your career pre-pandemic then have those reasons changed? If you are still looking for a better salary, improved training and development or a bigger challenge, then why hold back? There are opportunities available within our sectors at every level.

The Construction, Hire and Engineering sectors are buoyant

The truth is, opportunities are still in demand within these sectors. We found in our recent market survey than 80% of employers are continuing with their growth plans in 2021.

Advertised job roles have moved back to pre-pandemic levels and will only continue on this trajectory as the economy moves back to normality.

Think 2-3 years ahead, to get ahead

Similarly, the companies that are planning now and pushing forward with transformative digital change and investment are likely to be the outfits that will lead the way in their field over the next two to three years. We’re living through a time of profound change. If you want to get on board with the winners in that process, the time to act is now.

Have confidence

With remote-working now the norm, and an ever-increasing focus on work-life balance & personal development, now is the time to consider whether you can see your career thrive at your current company or whether a move would be the best thing for your future. With little opportunity for micro-management in the current climate, if you are good at your job, have ambition and the right attitude, a new job opportunity in 2021 could be your time to shine.


IF YOU THINKING OF A CAREER MOVE IN 2021 OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON OUR RECRUITMENT SERVICES CONTACT US.

e: enquiries@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


SENIOR LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW 2021: SPOTLIGHT ON ANDREW HARRISON

As part of our Senior Leadership interview series, we interview Andrew Harrison. Andrew has a distinguished career spanning 41 years working within the Merchant Industry. With a wealth of senior leadership experience behind him, Andrew shares his views on careers and leadership in the Merchant Industry.

Where did you start your career?

I left school with two career options. Should I join a growing supermarket business called Tesco or join a local Builders Merchant called Graham Reeves? I think we can all guess the route I chose. In my career, I have only ever worked for 3 businesses over 41 years. Firstly, Graham Reeves for 9 years, secondly Sharpe and Fisher for 10 years, who were then bought by Travis Perkins. I worked across various Travis Perkins group owned businesses, building my career and experience until now, when I retire from my role as Chief Executive Officer of the groups Plumbing & Heating businesses.

I never looked back, the merchant industry is a great industry to work in and gives people, no matter what their background, a real opportunity to succeed through hard work and dedication.

In the past few years I’ve also held various non-executive director roles, most notably the Builders Merchant Federation which was a great pleasure to be involved in.

What has changed most in the industry over your career?

The internet, without a doubt. It’s changing the way we all have do business and it has made pricing hyper visible. We live in the age of the disruptor – Amazon, Screwfix, etc. and digitalisation has made a huge impact on the way buyers behave. Simply, it has made selecting and buying products easier and more convenient for the customer.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the move to online trading for most merchants, maybe moving the industry on by five years in just twelve months, that pace of change is unlikely to ease off.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Quite simply, the people I’ve worked with have been the highlight. It’s one of the few industries where people can come into an organisation from college or school get great support and industry backed training and, with the right attitude, can go right to the top if that’s what they want.

Over my career, I have taken real pleasure in developing people and helping them succeed. And it’s great to watch these careers grow and progress over the years.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

I would not hesitate in recommending anyone, regardless of background, to come and work within one of the many areas that the Merchant Industry has to offer. And it’s not just careers within the branches I’m thinking about, but also IT, Finance, Multichannel, Marketing, HR, Legal, Supply Chain, etc. These are important roles in helping a modern merchant be successful.

Regardless of education or background if you come into merchanting and work hard you will be rewarded. And those who have real drive and an entrepreneurial spirit (and a bit of luck) can rise to the top or start their own business.

What advice can you give leaders when managing businesses and teams through times of uncertainty?

Across my career, I’ve been through various recessions and times of uncertainty and, from experience, I believe there are 3 main things to focus on during times of crisis.

1.Stay focused on your customer. Understand what they need and adapt to provide that product or service. And this is true even in business as usual. Supply and demand changes so much, it’s so important to understand when to change to suit the market.

2. Your people are key. Keeping your teams motivated and engaged is vital, but I cannot stress enough the importance of good, honest communication. COVID-19 again has changed the way we all communicate, and good use of video calls can help greatly, especially with remote teams.

3. Manage your cashflow carefully. Costs need to be rigorously controlled and managed during harder times and if you can invest for the future, do so.

What’s next for you?

I’m excited to be joining the team at Lords Trading Group as a non-executive director starting in March 2021. And I’m sure I’ll stay involved in an industry that I love and hopefully make a difference.

IF YOU ARE HIRING IN 2021 OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON OUR RECRUITMENT SERVICES CONTACT MICHAEL PARRY.

e: michael.parry@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


GCS HIT 1Oth PLACEMENT AS PART OF THE GCS 21 FOR 2021

In November, we created The GCS Pledge with the aim of helping at least 21 people back into work for 2021 by supplying our recruitment services for free.

We are proud to announce we’ve now placed 10 people back into employment, just in time for Christmas. We created The GCS Pledge because so many talented individuals have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and we’ve not only had support from our client base but from the Builders Merchant Federation who have helped promote this great initiative.

Our 10th placement was for Gap Group. We found Lee Justice a new role at Gap Group and he’s even been able to start his new job before Christmas. Lee commented;

“I’m really pleased to have found a new role at Gap Group and to start before Christmas is fantastic. Being made redundant was a huge concern as I’ve never been out of work before. I wasn’t used to it and you start worrying about so many different things, especially with Christmas coming up. I’m so grateful to have been part of the GCS Associates initiative, The GCS Pledge 21 for 2021, has got me back into work and eased those worries, pure and simple! Thank you GCS!”


Established in 1969, GAP Hire Solutions is the UK’s leading independent equipment hire company.  Lee joins the businesses 600+ employees who work across 140 locations across the UK. Lisa Davidson, Recruitment Advisor at Gap said,

“We are so pleased to be involved in the GCS Pledge. This is a great initiative from GCS who are giving up their time and resources free of charge, helping people who’ve lost their jobs due to COVID-19 get back into employment.  We’ve recently employed a candidate as part of the pledge.

We’ve now got a good person into the business and the pledge has helped someone back into employment in time for Christmas.  It’s a fantastic initiative and Gap Group are proud to support it to help as many people as possible back into work in 2021”

A big thank you to Gap Group and all other businesses that have supported the pledge and enabled us to get people back into work. We are now looking to 2021 and helping more people back into employment. We need a minimum of 11 more placements to hit of pledge total.

If you would like to be part of The GCS Pledge and use our recruitment services, completely free of charge, please get in touch. Together, we can help get as many people as many back into work in 2021.

TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE GCS PLEDGE
CONTACT MICHAEL PARRY.

e: michael.parry@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548


SENIOR LEADERSHIP INTERVIEW SERIES 2020: SPOTLIGHT ON DAVID YOUNG, CEO AT THE BRADFORDS GROUP

Senior Leadership Interview Series 2020: David Young on Managing in Time of Crisis

Could you give us an overview of your career within the industry?

I started my career in merchanting with Wolseley UK, completing their graduate Sales/Management Programme. I was fortunate enough to run my first branch while still half-way through the course. From there I held several area and regional roles in sales and operations, eventually moving to Trading Director for the southwest for Build Center. I then moved to Drain Center and ran this brand nationally for a few years. I left Wolseley after 19 years and joined Bradfords Building Supplies as Business Development Director, becoming MD a year later and then CEO in May 2019.

What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

Always a difficult one to answer yourself, as I suppose it is how I am perceived that is more relevant. In terms of values that I feel are important; I am who I am and I don’t try to be anyone different. I don’t believe in politics at work – I am direct, straightforward and respectful. I care about the business and everyone associated with it. I am committed to ensuring the business delivers long term. I trust everyone to do their job, and work hard to create the space for them to perform. I suppose good leadership is ultimately about making promises and sticking to them. Anyone can promise the world, but it is all about delivery.

How has your business adapted to the new working ways since COVID-19?

Prior to the first lockdown we had worked hard on a new operating model, minimising personal contact. When lockdown was announced we were well placed, however we continued to tweak the model. The key was clarity of communication. We were very clear and used basic and consistent messaging and constant reinforcement. The team have adapted well especially in the early stages – others were closing around us and the team quickly aligned and believed in what we were doing and the way we were doing it. We continue to evolve the operating model using technology as a key driver.


How have you managed and motivated your teams during this uncertain time?

The key has been regular contact with all levels of the organisation. Daily updates from me to all staff, regular conference calls and MS Teams meetings with the branch management estate and daily calls with the senior management team and Group Board.

We recognised that our employees were representative of the UK population as a whole.  Understandably their initial reaction to the pandemic and lockdown, was one of fear, and we had to balance the prerogative to stay open from a commercial perspective with the understanding that we were dealing with a workforce ranging from terrified to fully engaged.

The crucial element was consistent reinforcement of the key messages around hygiene, social distancing and latterly face coverings, and ensuring that we gave our staff the tools, procedures, equipment and support to be able to work as safely as possible. The business quickly understood the rationale for staying open, supporting the local self-employed customer and key public sector projects.

The Builders Merchant Federation have been superb and the letter from Alok Sharma at the end of March really helped settle the nerves of the workforce. Crucially this pandemic has bolstered local team spirit that is such an ingrained part of Bradfords culture. We know that all our teams feel more cohesive now than they did back in March. We have also seen an extension to this regarding their relationships with the local building community.

How do you lead through change and difficult times?

With clarity! I tried to be as visible as I could, ensuring I witnessed first-hand what the business was going through. I kept close to a few branches and customers and this really helped me get a good understanding of the challenges we were facing. The Senior Management Team have been superb and our daily meetings ensured we were aligned and informed with the most up to date information. This allowed us to make some very good decisions. Inevitable we made mistakes but reacted quickly to address them.

How much has COVID-19 impacted your talent acquisition plans?

We were very fortunate as we had spent 2018 and 2019 building a management team – this was the first year of a full team. So, in terms of talent acquisition at a senior level, the timing was perfect. What is clear is that we have a well-rounded team, each bringing their own skill set and specialism. However, the pandemic has provided opportunities for growth and we are bolstering the team in supply chain, logistics and eCommerce.

We have recruited during the pandemic, increasing our workforce by 10%, however one area that has been impacted is our Fast track programme – developing new managers of the future. Due to the pandemic constraints this programme has been delayed until 2021. The apprenticeship programme has also been impacted due to the lack of face to face training. Remote training is all well and good but the ability to deliver the volume of training programmes has been affected.

Tell us about Bradfords’ future plans?

We are very excited about the future. The pandemic has been a roller coaster and has taught us so much. In management terms I feel we have been through 5 years of decisions in 6 months – so for all of us at Bradfords it has been an unbelievable learning experience. There are plenty of opportunities for the business – the way people buy is changing and I think we are well placed to maximise every channel in the future. Supply chain has never been so important – not only with the pandemic but also with Brexit and other Global challenges. Having a robust supply chain is essential and the pandemic has shown us that ours is fragile. Some supply partners have been superb, but others have struggled to adapt to the fast pace of change.

Developing our people has always been key but the pandemic has taught us the need to have a flexible, more rounded workforce. We have redesigned our plans for effective people development and these launch in Q1 2021.

Our communication channels have also been stretched in the last 6 months. A radical review sees the development of a communication hub, bringing all communication into one place, easily accessed by all. This will be key to ensuring better, clearer, more detailed and consistent communication in the future.

Our IT systems have been an enabler to growth during the pandemic and further investment here will help us offer a better and more efficient service to all our customers. Investment in eCommerce will continue at pace to ensure we are offering all customers an easy route into Bradfords to browse, design, shop or manage their account effectively.

We have been fortunate enough to invest during the pandemic – the workforce has grown by 10% and our service proposition is expanding. The future for Bradfords is a bright one. We have had the backs of our customers for 250 years – and we are not going to stop now.


FOR ADVICE ON YOUR FUTURE GROWTH OR RETENTION STRATEGIES PLEASE CONTACT MICHAEL PARRY.

e: michael.parry@gcsassociates.com
t:  0161 660 2548