Samantha Hutchinson Reporter

Samantha writes on exports, Islamic finance and the business of doing business across borders. Before moving into journalism she worked in executive recruitment and public policy.

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CEO Q&A: Simon Beaty

Published 23 August 2012 04:52, Updated 23 August 2012 05:00

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What was your first job?

At 17, I wanted to buy a motorbike so I got a job filling jerrycans for the army. I [went on to] drive a forklift and eventually got my motorbike. My first job in retail was with a start-up selling sheepskin car seat covers.

How has your industry changed in the past five years?

Technology has drastically changed purchasing behaviour and the way retailers interact with consumers. The digital world has empowered consumers. A consumer can now research a product or service in such detail that in some instances, they know as much as salespeople. It is now more important than ever that bricks and mortar retailers deliver a unique retail experience to justify shopping offline.

Is the customer always right?

No, but I think the important thing is to make it right for them. The angry, upset or disappointed customer presents the best opportunity to show the value of your brand. Companies underestimate the power a disgruntled customer wields through their social networks. It’s critical that complaints are managed effectively to avoid damaging your brand’s reputation, regardless of whether they’re right or wrong.

How much time do you spend at your desk?

Too much. I learn something new every time I’m in a store, so I make a conscious effort to get out and about as often as I can.

Samantha Hutchinson

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