Lynn is brimming with ideas on how to take the business forward

Lynne Wilson-Henderson

Although she openly admits “retail wasn’t my first choice”, having taken an evening job in a store, she quickly found she had a love for it. “Even though you’re doing the same role, every day is different and there’s so much to take in, there’s so much you can do and so many places you can go with retail,” she raves. 

When she first started in retail, her children were very small, so she just did evening work, but as they grew older, she changed her hours and worked her way up to team leader.

Lynn is a big fan of the many training modules that Lincolnshire Co-op has to offer. “We’ve got a lot of new team leaders coming into the role as well and I like to use my knowledge and my training that I’ve been given to steer them in the right direction,” she says. “The worst thing ever is if somebody comes to you and says ‘can you do this?’ and you can’t do it. I like to be able to show people what I can do and how we can do it together.” 

In September 2021, Lynn started the society’s internal management development programme LEAP. This is an 18-month programme designed for colleagues to potentially become a store manager or develop further in their existing role. It also involves studying for a Level 3 Retail Apprenticeship. “My children went to university, but there wasn’t a lot of money around when I was younger, we didn’t think about university,” she explains. “So to get to 52 and to get a diploma and recognition of your certificates, it’s like, wow! I really have achieved something and that makes you feel proud.” 

Her customers are a top priority and she has a deep understanding of the positive social impact convenience stores have on their communities. “Sometimes they don’t want that paper that they’ve got in their hand, they just want to see a friendly face,” she says. 

It was Lynn who raised the alarm and contacted the emergency services when one of her elderly regular customers didn’t come in to the store. 

She also regularly assists a blind gentleman around the shop. “We ask him what he would like, and we lead the way. He’s vegan so we don’t have an awful lot in, but we make sure we try and source out the vegan bits for him because he specifically comes into the store,” she says.

Lynn has come up with plenty of suggestions on how to improve the business, such as cost efficiencies, free fruit for staff, and better guidance at the tills on how to recognise different UK notes.

She also suggested that the group’s customer feedback survey was made available through its dividend card app to make it easier for them to find and complete.

She claims that you can’t underestimate the value of honest feedback. “We really wanted to find out what was going wrong,” she says. “We actually read all the comments that come back to us. It’s not just what we’re doing all good but where we’re going wrong and what we can improve on.”

Lynn’s favourite part of her job is the variety it offers. “Some days I do the ordering; some days I do the cashing up; some days I show up and do spot checks, and I like jumping on the tills. 

“Because we are so busy doing everything, time goes so fast. You’re so engrossed in getting that job finished and doing something else and then seeing to the customers and jumping on and off and on and off. I enjoy every part of it.”