Despite studying business at university, joining her father Tim’s Worcestershire forecourt firm Burns & Co was not on Georgi’s agenda. “I’d never really thought about joining our family business. It was more a case of my Dad coming to me and saying I could really help to relieve the stress. With the recession, he needed to spend more time looking at costs, so he wanted someone to oversee the stores.”

Initially, she was unsure of whether to take on the development manager position. But once she understood what the role required she accepted, determined that this 25-year-old would earn the respect of her colleagues based on her ability to do the job well, rather than simply standing in her father’s shadow. “It is difficult when you come in with everyone knowing that you’re the daughter of the owner, but I just get on with it,” she states. “I don’t like being introduced as the boss’ daughter. I’d rather be treated as me and just get stuck in and do my job.”

Her role involves sharing her time between the firm’s four forecourt Spar stores - Commandery, St Stephens, Ledbury Road and Malvern Springs - so keeping track of the goings-on at each store is key. “Each store is in a different area, so you have to review each customer base,” she says. “Our Commandery unit has a turnover of £30,000. It is near to the town centre and has a mix of passing and residential trade St Stephens has a £19,000 turnover and here you get some passing trade, but mostly local people. Our Ledbury Road site turns over about £14,000 and local produce, such as cider, does really well there while Malvern turns over up to £13,000 and is undergoing a major refit which involved setting up a temporary shop in a cabin so that locals didn’t miss out on their essentials.”

store profiles

Commandery service station, Worcester

Turnover: £30,000

Customers per week: 9,000

St Stephens service station, Worcester

Turnover: £19,000

Customers per week: 6,000

Ledbury Road Service Station, Hereford

Turnover: £14,000

Customers per week: 5,000

Malvern Springs Service Station, Malvern

Turnover: £13,000

Customers per week: 5,000

It’s certainly a lot to take on board, but Georgi thrives on understanding the inner workings of each store. “Every week the sales figures are sent through from each store to me and I write up a summary comparing it with an equivalent week on fuel, shop, car wash. With Malvern we wanted to look at what different departments sold and what we could grow, so we took two years’ worth of weekly figures for each store and my Dad was able to use it when Spar came to discuss the shop plan.”

Her good head for figures and computer know-how has also helped to make the business more efficient. “A lot of work done at uni with Excel and analysing figures has helped me. I’m able to show the managers bits and pieces to speed up their work from time to time.”

However, she claims that learning is very much a two-way process and that the store managers have taught her plenty in terms of back office work. “I’ve been learning how they work out the amount of products you have to order to maintain a full store,” she says. “You need to know how to adapt the order based on all sorts of factors. For example, our ice cream sales went up over the May bank holiday, so the order had to be adjusted accordingly.”

She also ensures that the stores’ product ranges are up to scratch. This is achieved by talking to manufacturers regularly - “I meet suppliers, such as Ginsters, and analyse sales, adjust ranges and discuss their aims for the year” - as well as making sure that the stores are adhering to Spar planograms in line with AF Blakemore’s Retail Partner Scheme. “Rolling it out takes a long time. Having St Stephens re-laid earlier this year has really made customers notice our product range. Most stores have been down year on year, but the change helped us to maintain sales and keep us fresh.”

But it isn’t just a case of keeping things ticking over. Georgi has also implemented plenty of her own ideas. “As a result of me being free to visit all four stores, we have started running competitions between them ahead of big seasonal events. I judge all sections of each store and the winning outlet is awarded vouchers. It’s getting harder and harder to judge because everyone is scoring so highly. Having the stores competing with each other means everything looks fantastic in the lead up to major events!”

Georgi has also jumpstarted the firm’s community engagement activities. “Charity is an area I’m trying to focus on. We didn’t really do it before I joined. A lot of customers just see you as a Spar or a Texaco. Doing work for the community gets you recognised as an independent.”

She made sure she got off to a good start by liaising with other stores. “I spent time with the marketing manager at Warner’s Budgens. They do a lot of work in their local area and she talked me through their use of Facebook and Twitter and their newsletter.”

Georgi has created a calendar of community events to raise money for good causes and help the business to connect with locals. “Four of us signed up to do a half marathon to raise money for St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford. We had a fun day over the Easter holidays with a raffle, face painting and a running machine where we each ran 2k in turns to complete a half marathon, raising more than £400.”

She also ran a colouring competition with the local school in the run up to the fun day. The winners and runners-up for each age group were awarded £10-worth of Love to Shop vouchers, laminated colouring designs and Easter eggs.

“Organising events such as this means that the parents of the school kids are more likely to use us rather than the Tesco up the road,” says Georgi. “I’d like to do something like this at St Stephens next. I’ll look at the area and see which charities are suitable. It’s important for people to see us as a family store.”

She is also in talks with Spar about launching the new-look Malvern store with a bang next month by donating £1 from every car wash to nearby St Richards Hospice. “Due to the larger multiples moving into smaller store formats there’s a lot more competition for independents, and working with local charities and schools has really helped us to stand out. People are more likely to support a firm that will put money back into the community.”

When she’s not busy in-store, Georgi is sorting through paperwork at head office where she’ll often bump into other family members. “My Mum manages the accounts and invoices and my Auntie is co-director and looks after stock control. It’s nice to see my family every day.”

And although she may not want to be seen as a daddy’s girl, Georgi concedes that working with her father is far more enjoyable than she had initially thought. “I was surprised when it came to working with my Dad. We actually get on really well. The main thing I’ve learnt is to ask plenty of questions about everything I’m working on. Everything you do has to have a reason behind it.”

Understanding the business inside out and being able to shape its progress are the key reasons behind Georgi’s love of working for the family business.

“I don’t like being one of many where your productivity doesn’t matter,” she says. “Here, I get to do something different every day and it’s all working towards helping the company. In a family business, everything you do counts and I like being somewhere where I can really make a difference.”•