What brought about the partnership with Budgens?
We’re really pleased to be extending our relationship with Budgens. They are a well-known UK brand and with these further 20 new stores, our customers at these stations can now also enjoy Budgens’ fresh food choices, either for during their journeys or to take home.
Explain what the partnership will entail.
Shell and Budgens opened four pilot sites in the UK last year, which were a success. We are now opening 20 new “Budgens at Shell” across the UK. The first opened in September, and all 20 should be in place by the end of the year.
These stores will sell a range of products, including fruit and vegetables, dairy, deli, meat and fish and ready meals for a quick and easy dinner.
How is this a unique feature for retail?
While we know that some of our customers do simply want to “fill up and go”, that isn’t the case for everyone. Many of our customers look to us to help them save time, so giving them the option also to do their grocery shopping at Shell is fantastic.
Our retail partnership with Budgens allows us to cater to these varied needs: food for now and later, alongside our broader fuel and mobility services. This sits alongside Shell’s Deli2Go range and Costa Coffee offerings, giving them a retail experience that is convenient and additional choice that helps make their journeys better.
Tell us a bit about your role as Shell’s UK Retail General Manager.
Our retail business is the public face of Shell in the UK. We have a network of over 1000 service stations across the country which serve around five million customers each week.
My main day-to-day priority is to run a profitable – but most importantly – a safe business. While business performance is what we’re all here to deliver, we must never compromise on safety and I want our teams and customers to return home safe and well.
In what ways can convenience retail succeed in the UK’s challenging retail market?
People today lead busy lives, which means their time is increasingly precious to them. In my opinion, this provides a tremendous opportunity for those of us in the UK retail sector to help our customers make the most of their time.
With this in mind, we’re seeing convenience stores becoming an increasingly important player, as time-strapped shoppers are switching from one big weekly supermarket shop to buying little and often. Therefore, I believe that the retailers who most successfully create those really convenient – and high quality – shopping experiences will be the ones who succeed.
How is Shell’s retail division addressing some of the challenges facing the UK retail sector?
I’ve talked about our focus on convenience, which for me comes back to meeting our customers’ needs and driving loyalty. Establishing a loyal customer base provides strong foundations that any retailer needs to succeed in a challenging market.
The frontline service champions are very important to Shell’s success and ensuring they receive the very best training means that they can get those customer service basics right. We want them to make every customer that comes to Shell feel like a guest.
Building on this, we’re also seeing a clear demand for greater digital integration. This has been a huge focus for us and has included developing the Shell Motorist app that helps our customers find their nearest Shell station, as well as launching “Fill Up & Go” – our payment service that allows customers to pay for fuel from their mobile phone.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Shell.
I first joined Shell in 1978, working as a clerical assistant in London. Since then, I have done a variety of roles across the business, including stints in our aviation and marine teams, and have been fortunate to work in a number of countries.
I first joined Shell’s retail team as a territory manager in the mid-1980s and in the 33 years I’ve been in retail, I’ve worked across many different areas, including marketing, sales, operations and strategy in Europe, the US and globally.
I’ve had a really fantastic career with Shell and have been lucky enough to get involved in such different parts of the business.
What got you into the retail sector in the first place?
At heart, I’m a people person and retail is a people business. To most people, retail is the public face of Shell and it really matters to me how Shell touches peoples’ lives and makes a difference.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Predicting where the industry will go next to try and stay ahead of trends is always a challenge, but exciting.
And the most rewarding?
Having a happy, safe and high-performing team who make our customers happy. I love hearing stories from our retailers and dealers about how they’re going above and beyond to help our customers; and when our customers tell us that we’ve had a real impact on making their journey easier.
It’s great when we are able to make a real difference – for example, earlier this year we joined forces with fuelService to introduce an app based service that allows disabled drivers to contact our service stations directly to arrange help refuelling when they arrive – and then pay securely using Shell Fill Up & Go.
We’ve had some incredible feedback from our customers about the impact this has had on their experience with us – and that is wonderful to hear.
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?
Having a passion for people and customers is important as the retail industry is all about connecting with people. Whether it’s your own employees, contractors, franchisees or their employees, they all represent your brand.
I’m also a firm believer that in any retail business, it’s important to ensure you know it from the ground up. In our business, that means spending time with our frontline service champions, who are the faces of our brand, and getting to know our customers in person at Shell stations.
It’s also a career in which no day is the same – so being adaptable and enjoying a challenge is really important.
What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?
I think the biggest risk is sitting still. We’re seeing huge changes in the sector, incredible digital innovations and shifts in what our customers want and expect – so retailers really need to flex and adapt to keep on top of their game.