Retail Lessons Learned the Hard Way with Gillian Maxwell

The Local Enterprise offices of Cavan, Louth and Monaghan were delighted to collaborate and run a Retail Webinar on Tuesday 16th February. Retail supremo Gillian Maxwell of Tiger Copenhagen fame was the main speaker. With an international reputation, the border LEO’s were delighted to secure her attendance and she promised to be an engaging speaker.

To that end she certainly did not disappoint. Relaying stories of her early days, she spoke in a refreshing and engaging manner. Stories of humility, courage and luck, intertwined seamlessly with hard work, intelligence, recruitment and ultimately retail excellence.

Sponsored jointly be the three border LEO’s, the webinar provided a snapshot of the potential of the Superior Retailing Programme, which Maxwell herself is a trainer on. The programme is fully funded and is part of a series of management supports the LEO’s provide. The webinar highlighted many aspects of the upcoming programme that is due to commence on February 25th including;

  • How to analyse your business
  • Developing growth plans
  • Finance
  • KPI’s
  • Workshops
  • Mystery Shopping

Brilliantly hosted by Eilin Connolly of Monaghan LEO, she facilitated a fast-moving webinar, allowing Maxwell time to develop her story while also eliciting some key nuggets from Maxwell’s vast retail experience.

Key among those nuggets were her belief in;

  1. Taking time to sharpen the saw
  2. Sticking to your knitting
  3. Promoting from within and empowering the team
  4. Setting goals and values
  5. Faking it until you make it

Gillian took the time to explain and develop each point.

 Retail Event

Following on from the first part, the Webinar quickly moved on to a Q&A session hosted by Peter Mc Grane of LEO Louth. He was joined by participants currently on the first Superior Retail Programme, to convey their opinions about the programme and elaborate about their experience so far.

Connie Whelan of Whelan Footware Distributors, Cootehill, Cavan was first to relay her experience, outlining how she enjoyed the workshops and explaining how despite her vast experience in the business, she was still able to learn so much about business. She strongly advocated the programme saying –“I’d recommend this programme to any business especially in light of what has hit us over the past year” She finished off, echoing what Maxwell had eluded to earlier by saying –“This too will pass and the important thing for us is to be ready for the bounce”.

Next to answer questions was Linda Stewart of Mizu, in Dundalk Co. Louth. Linda spoke honestly about the challenges of business and how she really valued the Strategic Growth and Development plan that she is working on in a workshop on the programme. Many of the attendees could relate to her when she spoke too, about the importance of working on the business, as opposed to working in the business.

Our last participant of the current Superior Retail Programme was Dermot Mc Dermott, of Mc Dermotts Sports Centre Monaghan. The Farney man, was especially grateful to the Mentoring he experienced on the first Phase of the programme. He believed the mentors were “world class” and he also alluded to the role within the programme afforded to exploring the opportunities for on-line business. To conclude he made it clear that he had no hesitation in recommending the programme to any independent retailers.

Following on from the participants, the attendees were facilitated to pop questions to Gillian Maxwell. There was much rich information to be gleaned from the responses to these question, many of which were probing and deeply thoughtful.

Before closing Eilin Connolly gave a recap about Gillian Maxwell’s key insight into retailing, reminding us about Maxwells key strategies in including;

  • The key aspects of merchandising
  • Utilising the physical space
  • Turing functional items into emotive purchases
  • People and training.

Eilin brough the Webinar to a close at 12pm on the button, but not before utilising the remaining few minutes to facilitate a discussion with Gillian about the future of retailing. This allowed Gillian time to convey and impart her beliefs on how to maximise the potential that exists, going forward.

A swift, thought provoking Webinar concluded and Cavan, Louth and Monaghan Local Enterprise Offices were delighted to have played their part in supporting the event. For anyone interested in enrolling on the free Superior Retail Programme contact your local Leo or visit their website at https://www.localenterprise.ie/ Places are limited and the second programme begins on February 25th.