IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 12 May 2014

15 Years of Retail Assist – Interview with Borys Krywyj

Here we go with another ‘15 Years of Retail Assist’ blog post, and this time it is from Borys Krywyj. Borys is Head of Sales at Retail Assist and is definitely the loudest member of the Sales and Marketing team. It’s hard to properly introduce Borys, I think the best way to describe him is, ‘the life and soul of the party’, but I’m hoping you will get a better idea from reading this latest blog, I promise it’s laugh out loud funny!

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

  • When I started in 1999, Retail Assist had just signed its first client in Adams Childrenswear.  Alan and I looked after all things sales and marketing related. ‘Big Rog’ was running the Help Desk in those days.  Although my colleagues in marketing may be shocked to hear this, I came into RA with both a sales and marketing industry background.  The starting point in 1999 was to build the Retail Assist “brand awareness” across our industry.  This involved everything from corporate brochure production, creating exhibition stands for Trade Shows, mail shots (these were the days before electronic mass mail you know!), creating our first set of Presentation slides and then hitting the “Evangelist Road” with Alan, talking to retail prospects throughout our industry.

Fast forward to 2014 and Retail Assist now has a Sales & Marketing team of 8, covering Sales, Marketing and Commercial Management (contracts to me and you).

My role today is still very similar to the role I had in 1999 – working closely with Marketing to drive the messages and lead generation, manage the sales team and most importantly, continue to make sales.

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

  • For those of you who know me, you will know that I am quite a traditionalist (not to be confused with the word “old”).

I don’t think that much has really changed in retail or in retail technology over the 15 years.

On the technology side, there is a lot of ‘scaremongering’ and ‘jumping’ on the bandwagon for a quick buck, which goes on. Year 2000 and Cloud Computing come to mind, a lot of hype about very little.

Thankfully, Retail Assist is not like that and I believe that our principles and solutions remain as relevant today as they did to our clients 15 years ago.

  • In terms of “retailing”, again what has really changed?

We still go to shops just like we did back in 1909 when Selfridges first opened its doors. The way products are visually merchandised hasn’t really changed much.  Yes there are more lights, glitz and glamour but, essentially, the experience is still the same.

  • Yes, there is now the online channel and data gathering is key in getting better targeted messages to us as individuals.  However, what about some of the other trends?

Some of our clients are now at the stage where they believe that they have exhausted the online channel and are now returning their focus to basics and traditional channels to market, by opening more stores both here in the UK and internationally to increase sales.

I look at my own daughters to see if retail has really changed:

  1. They read magazines, retailer’s catalogues and watch TV adverts;
  2. Yes they use social media with their friends;
  3. Yes they search online and occasionally buy online;
  4. But still more often than not, they go to town with all of their friends to shop, try on clothes, debate what looks good amongst themselves, and then buy things. The thrill of ‘physically’ shopping is still very much alive.
  • If anything has changed at all, it’s speed and efficiency.  But retailing hasn’t really changed, has it?

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

  • Gosh that’s a tough one!  So much has changed and developed over the years. It’s easier to answer this by looking at what actually hasn’t changed.  I’m pleased to say that RA has stuck to the same principles that it set out with back in 1999.

Our culture has always been about: openness, honesty and taking ownership, and I’d like to think our clients still talk about us in the same way as they did when it all started back in 1999.

What is your favourite aspect of working at Retail Assist?

  • Selling is all about people.  You’ve got to love working with people if you want to be a success at selling in Retail Assist. After all, it’s people (and expertise) that we are selling.

Swiss Tony once said “Selling a car is like making love to a beautiful woman….”

My motto would be “Selling is like hosting one big Dinner Party”.  You’ve got to do all the arrangements beforehand (make the phone calls, write the proposals, convince them to meet). Then you’ve got to host the Dinner Party (get everyone in the room talking, engage the client with the Service Delivery teams, tell them how it’s going to work and how we’re going to make a difference).  And as ever in sales, there’s ALWAYS the After Dinner Party!

Most memorable/funniest Retail Assist experience?

  • There are so many!  But after much censorship, here are some of my top ones:
  1. The Gorilla-gram I got for my 40th Birthday – some of you may remember who was inside!
  2. Winning the Rubicon Contract.
  3. Road trips with Alan.
  4. Falling in the English Channel on a company event and Alan not finding out for 6 months (talk to me for the correct story, not Alan’s version).
  5. Roger jumping overboard at Rutland Water when I was steering Team Krywyj in a sailing race.  Yes, he took one for the boys.
  6. Teaching Ellie how to ride a bike – remember Ellie?
  7. Beating Alex at anything (she’s so competitive you know!).
  8. Pub crawls with Peter Vincent – nobody can show you London better than Peter!
  9. The current crop of “ladettes” I work with are a scream.  I’ve learnt a whole new vocabulary.
  10. Rumyana’s damn-right, straight-forward, to-the-point summations.  I call her ‘The Ministry of Truth’.

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 here and also our twitter account: @RetailAssist #15YearsofRA for updates and latest blogs.

For more information about Retail Assist then please contact us on or 0115 853 3910.

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