Three C-Store Champions talk about their achievements and the obstacles they have overcome during their careers

Enya McAteer and colleagues on International Women's Day 2022

Hazel Ridge, Bassetts Londis, Weymouth

Trudy Davies, Woosnam & Davies News, Llanidloes, mid Wales

Enya McAteer, Mulkerns Spar Jonesborough, Newry, Northern Ireland


Bassetts Londis Westham Road_manager Hazel Ridge

Hazel Ridge

Store manager, Bassetts Londis, Weymouth, and Rising Star of the Year 2022

How did you get into retail? 

I left school and didn’t have anywhere to go, so I started working at Cash Generator. I used to come into the store that I manage now for coffee for my boss. The manager [now the store’s operations manager Dave Hiscutt] offered me a job - saying they needed people like me. I would work at Cash Generator from 8 til 5:30 and then I’d walk straight round and do the night shift at Londis from six until 10. I was trying to pay for driving lessons. When I’d paid for them I went back to just working for Cash Generator, but when the store closed down I didn’t know what to do so I approached Dave and he agreed I could come back full-time. 

Within a month I was a supervisor and I went from there really. 

What is the best part of being a retailer?

I just love seeing results and seeing the difference between now and last year. It’s just constant with everything. I’m constantly changing things around and trying new things. Within my dessert bar I recently introduced choux buns and they’re very popular. I love seeing the spike in success.

What has been your biggest achievement in terms of growing the business and serving the community?

The summer window display - it was a massive leap to create the window I made to display beachwear. Before that, beachwear was only a really small section in store. Now the summer window is a regular fixture - I’ve already got it ready for this year. Last year it led to a 616% increase in beachwear.

What has given you the confidence and drive to get where you have today?

My Dad always had his own business, he was self-employed. I knew that was the route I wanted to take with my life, but I didn’t know what to do. Then I applied that “you’ve got to get up and work” thinking into every job I’ve had.

[Store owner] Steve [Bassett] and Dave have definitely worked on me. They put their faith in me and helped me out with a lot of things. I definitely have them to thank for me doing well. Them being so supportive really keeps me going.

 What barriers have you had to overcome as a woman in retail?

I think you have to try harder to make a name for yourself. The majority of suppliers and reps tend to be men and they don’t expect a young woman to be in charge of the store. I get it a lot where someone will go up to one of my staff members who’s twice my age and a man. It’s not just about being a women, it’s my age as well that people aren’t expecting. 

What advice would you offer to women in the convenience sector?

Don’t let the men get you down! Just keep going and believe in yourself. We can do anything. There shouldn’t be any barriers - there isn’t anything that we can’t do. As long as you apply yourself and keep going, you’ll achieve your goals.

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Trudy Davies profile pic

Trudy Davies

Woosnam & Davies News in Llanidloes, mid Wales

How did you get into retail? 

I didn’t really know when I left school what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t a college person, so I went on a Margaret Thatcher YTS [Youth Training Scheme] which was a six month scheme where you got experience in whatever sector you thought you might like. 

The store owner taught me everything and said ‘you’re a born natural, you love being behind the counter’ and so he offered me a job after the six months … and I stayed there 13 years!

He was a great mentor for me because when I decided to start up on my own, I was quite wary being a lady on my own, especially that many years ago when it was usually husband and wife teams. My ex boss said ‘go for it Trudy! No matter what you do you’ll work at it and it won’t be your fault if it doesn’t succeed because I know you’ll do your best. 

What is the best part of being a retailer?

I love retail, I absolutely love the interaction with people. I just love dealing with the trades, the wholesalers. You’ve got to be a people person. The best bit for me is that I am serving my community, I consider them all my friends, but it enables me to then give back. I don’t mean give money, I mean time, effort, ideas, support, help for everybody. My children have been brought up by this community, not just me, and I think we’re like one big family.

 What is your biggest achievement in terms of growing the business and serving the community? 

My biggest achievement on a personal level is that I’ve been the standard bearer for the British Legion representing my town for 42 years. And only last week, I was given a Golden Brooch award for my services to the Royal British Legion and the veterans of the area, so I was very chuffed with that. Their motto is ‘service not self’ so I think I lived up to it to get the golden brooch. Only last week I was called “the instigator of the town”!

I instigate everything by saying, “We can do this, let’s try it”. 

What’s given you the confidence and the drive to get where you are today?

A little bit of my Welshness helps a lot! 

Also, when I was about 12 and going up to high school you’d go to the headmaster’s room and they’d give you a little bit of an interview  and they’d always ask what you wanted to do after school. When I walked in, he said: ‘I won’t bother to ask what you’re going to be because you won’t amount to much.’ I think it spurred me on to think ‘nobody’s ever going to be treating me like that ever again’. 

What barriers have you had to overcome as a woman in retail?

Lots of people thinking that you’re not the person that makes the decisions. Not so much now but years ago they’d always look over your shoulder when they came in the shop if they wanted to speak to somebody in authority and thinking it wasn’t you. The perception was that a lady couldn’t manage, it was always ‘where’s your partner’? Thankfully, it’s got a lot better. 

Also, the banks in the very beginning wouldn’t lend me any money, capital or anything for business, because I was a lady. I was actually told by my first bank manager that I went to see ‘I don’t think we could possibly service this loan because, women aren’t very good with money are they’!

I’m hoping that because of what businesswomen my age have had to overcome, I hope that we’ve made it better for the next generation and the generation to come to do it. 

What advice would you offer to women in the convenience sector? 

Don’t look at the things that don’t work, look at the things that do work - the little schemes you do and your ideas within the shop. Don’t get despondent and feel dejected if you think something’s going to do really well and it doesn’t sell. It’s not always the right time. You can introduce a product now and it might not work but in six months time if you introduced it then it would work. You might have to tweak what you do, but it will work eventually. Don’t ever feel a failure if something goes wrong because you think of all the positives, not the negatives.

If you think you can’t, just try it and don’t think negative and don’t give up no matter what. Ask for advice as well. People are only too kind to help you - men or women in business these days. No question is stupid. If you don’t know the answer, then you know you need to ask - get yourself educated by experienced people.

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Enya McAteer_Profile pic

Enya McAteer

Store manager, Mulkerns Spar Jonesborough, Newry, Northern Ireland, and Rising Star of the Year 2021

How did you get into retail? 

It was actually my granddad who started our family business nearly 50 years ago. My mother worked in the business and I was literally raised in retail. Before I even went to school I was in the shop, when I came home from school, I was in the shop. I knew all the customers, all the suppliers. Really from a young age, I was just in that environment, it was all I was used to.

When I was 13 I started working part time in the shop and getting a few quid and working maybe one day a week. And then I moved on to the tills when I got that bit older. And then I continued to work in different departments and I was always willing to learn and I suppose because I was there for so long I just knew so much about the store. I was upstairs as well in the office, doing the accounts, and I got to see a lot of different sides of the business that maybe I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t my family. I just really, really enjoyed it.

Then when I went to university, I decided to do management and I actually did computers with it and I went and worked with Lidl for a year in London and that was my first time actually leaving my family business when I was about 20. I got to go to their head office, and I did IT for two weeks and I hated it. I just found I was a real people person, I enjoyed being in that environment. I’ve never felt the need to try anything else because I just really enjoyed working in retail. 

What’s given you the confidence and the drive to get where you have today?

I’ve always had support and guidance from my family. My mum was always there in the shop with me so we were always working together. She could teach me things that she was really good at and so I got a lot of help and support. I could never see myself working in a different kind of business.

And my granddad when I was a child, he would have brought me into the shop, taken  me to the bank with him and bought things for the shop. Back then before it was a franchise when it was a real real independent store, he’d have bought different things from different suppliers so I got a lot of inspiration from him, but obviously he retired and my mum took over the business. So she really was my inspiration. She was very, very good at what she done. She was a real people person, all the staff loved her. She was just a great businesswoman and I was really inspired by her. I remember thinking ‘when she retires, what am I going to do? I’m never going to be able to live up to this!’ She’s definitely given me the drive to do it. 

What is the best part of being a retailer?

Working with so many different people - I’m a real people person, I love talking to people, I love working with the staff, I love having a good team around me. If you don’t have a good team, then you’re gonna struggle in retail. I have a really good team, they’re very close and they have a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for them. And obviously the customers as well - there wouldn’t be a business without them! 

What are your biggest achievements in terms of growing the business and serving the community?

When I took over the Jonesborough shop that I’m in now, the the biggest achievement was when it actually started making a profit. It was a lot of hard work, don’t get me wrong. I put in a lot of hours, I was completely thrown in the deep end. It was literally ‘here’s the shop - see you later’! But because it was family you get away with that. My biggest achievement is being able to create that shop into what it is today and turn it completely around from making a loss to making a really great profit and having a really amazing team and a good reputation in the community. It was a about being able to either sink or swim and I definitely swam. 

And obviously, winning the awards we’ve won and having the opportunity to speak to different magazines and features online. It’s great that people have recognised my hard work.

What barriers have you had to overcome as a woman in retail?

When I started at Jonesborough I was only 23. Customers didn’t really take me seriously because I was young and I was a woman. People would come in looking for the manager, and I’d be like, ‘I’m the manager’ and they’d say ‘no you’re not, where’s the man manager’. That was said to me several times and it was a bit disheartening. But thankfully that has changed and they now know I’m the manager and the suppliers have respect for me too. 

But don’t get me wrong, if we go to a conference with the other store [Mulkerns Eurospar] and there’s male managers, I find suppliers still tend to speak to them directly rather than me - it’s as if I’m just tagging along sometimes. That’s just a challenge and it’s about overcoming it and just being able to speak up and say ‘I’m interested - speak to me about it, give me some eye contact!’ 

What advice would you offer to women in the convenience sector? 

Just be yourself, be confident. There should be no fear of joining an industry that’s male dominated. Sometimes I think women might be intimidated, especially in the management roles in retail because it’s mainly men. All I can say is just go for it, believe in yourself, just like I did. There were times when I felt ‘this is so annoying, that no one takes me seriously’, but at the end of the day, I just got on with it and I proved everybody wrong. If you have ideas, go with them, and if there’s a man telling you ‘I don’t agree with your idea’, you should just go ahead and do it and prove them wrong. You’ll come out the other side being much better and more confident and get much more recognition.

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