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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

  • 28 Apr

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Roger Bannister

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Our next ‘15Years of Retail Assist’ blog comes from Roger Bannister, one of our Sales Manager’s. In the last 15 years Roger’s role has covered many aspects of the business, giving him a great knowledge and understanding of every part of the company. This is clearly seen in the passion and commitment he demonstrates in his current role today. So let’s see what he has to say…

What does your role involve, and how has this changed over the last 15 years?

  • My role as Sales Manager entails the selling of our range of services and solutions, from Helpdesk through to Merret. This is predominantly new business, by which I mean brand new customers to Retail Assist.  I also pick up the commercial lead on a number of existing customers, which involves identifying wider opportunities, as well as managing things like contract renewals/extensions. For this I tend to work closely with the Client Services side that pick up responsibility for managing the accounts on a day to day basis.
  • My very first role with the business actually came pre-Retail Assist when I joined Compass, the company from which Retail Assist was formed, in 1996 as a Business Analyst, although the scope of this role was very varied and on top of what you would classify as ‘business analysis’ I did other things like the installation, training and go-live support of the in-store solutions for new Sports Division and Outfit stores. When Retail Assist was formed I became the Helpdesk Manager and was tasked with building that team and establishing the necessary processes and procedures required to facilitate world class support to our customers. I also managed the two Desktop Support engineers that were based on-site at the Adams HO in Nuneaton. Over time my responsibility widened and the Technical Services/Store Systems teams also reported into me.
  • In circa 2005, I took an opportunity to move into a more commercially focussed role and became a Client Account Manager, looking after existing customers such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. In late 2006, I made a very hard decision to pursue an opportunity outside of RA! Having spent a couple of years away, the lure to return in late 2008 was too strong, and I returned (a little bit older and wiser, and definitely more commercially savvy!) in the role of Sales Manager. I’ve been back six years this year, which will mean my association with the business stems back 18 years!”

What would you say the most significant change has been in retail over the last 15 years?

  • Without a doubt the evolution of the various channels to market that retailers now utilise, as well as the ways in which customers can shop ‘the brand’ AKA omnichannel. This has all been possible due to the technological advances we have seen down the years, from the Internet through to a far more robust and quicker communications infrastructure. Mobile smartphones and tablets are now ‘the norm’, and gone are the days of dial-up comms in-store and instead store estates are now ‘always on’, which means that retailers are able to poll back sales and stock inventory data more or less instantaneously, allowing them to maintain and share a near real-time view of stock across the entire business.

What changes have you seen at Retail Assist over the last 15 years?

  • Other than my two years out, it’s probably easier to ask me what changes I haven’t seen! The main ones are fairly obvious, such as the growing number of people to support the ever growing customer base. The nice thing for me is that whilst we have grown, and as a result in a number of areas this has actually meant a bit of ‘growing up’, we haven’t lost the underlying ethos and values that have been present since the very beginning.

What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist?

  • Most definitely the people. I’m really proud of the fact that there are a lot of people still in the business today that I actually recruited!

Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience?

As I’m sure you’ll imagine, in 16 out of the past 18 years there have been a fair few! The two that really stick out are:

  • The time when we were delivering a training session to Sport Division Area Manager’s at their HO in Dundonald, near Glasgow. The courier that was shipping the kit to support this completely messed it up, and failed to deliver the kit as planned the day before the session. After a lot of phone calls, some of which involved some raised words, we had to settle for them delivering the kit early the following morning. This meant Alan and I arriving on-site about 5.30am, carrying the kit up three flights of stairs as they didn’t have a lift (anybody that was around back then will remember how big those Ramis till boxes were!), and getting it all unboxed and setup before the people arrived. We were suited and booted which didn’t help, but literally just finished a minute or so before the first people arrived!
  • The Rubicon transition… I rank this as one of the most challenging yet rewarding events of my professional career, and is a fantastic example of how anything can be achieved when people pull together in the same direction. The weekend before go-live was fly by the seat of your pants stuff, and I’ll never forget the look on Alan’s face on the Sunday evening when the Citrix contractor asked if somebody could build a Windows server and I volunteered, luckily Dan Jackson was there and he ended up doing it!!! When Dave Ford crashed through the door of Cabourne House on the Monday morning, he was a little surprised to find Alan and I asleep on the two sofas in Reception (not the first time I’ve slept in the office I hasten to add!), and Dan asleep in his chair in the office downstairs, and that was the start of what proved to be a mad day when the Warehouse and Principles Stores and HO users started calling! I have to admit that I was really pleased to get home that evening, especially on the basis that I’d actually left home early on the Sunday morning, obviously not knowing what lay ahead!”

If you have enjoyed reading this blog and are interested in reading about other members of our team then keep an eye on our blog page: http://www.retail-assist.co.uk and also our twitter account: @RetailAssist #15YearsofRA for updates and latest blogs.

For more information about Retail Assist then please contact us on info@retail-assist.co.uk or 0115 853 3910.

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