We get to know Store Manager and Board Director Sean Clothier and find out how he uses both roles to help and support colleagues, members and the community
Sean holds a very unique position with the Society. He is one of only three employees who sit on our Board of Directors and at the same time he is store manager at Market Harborough Supermarket and Petrol Filling Station.
The 50-year-old began his career with the Society in 1983 as a 16-year-old working 10 hours a week at his local store in Loughborough. Since then he has gone on to work and support over 20 stores across the East Midlands and now enjoys the extra responsibility of shaping the future of the Society with his role on the Board.
He said: “My first interactions with the Co-op were via my grandparents and parents and then eventually when I got my first part-time job.
“I worked there for a couple of years while I was doing my A Levels and, after deferring university for a year, wrote to the then head of retail to ask if there was a management trainee programme.
“The letter must have been well received because, despite a few months in 1989, I have worked for the Society ever since and never looked back.”
Sean quickly progressed through a variety of roles and has now been a Store Manager for 23 years.
He added: “The role of being a store manager has changed over the years, mainly due to the arrival of new technology.
“My job has then been to work with my colleagues to ensure they know how best to use this technology to perform their jobs to the best of their ability.
“It is a role that has its challenges, but challenges that I enjoy taking on.
“The highlight of being a store manager for me is being able to work with a great team but also seeing them grow and progress. This can be everything from seeing people pick up a new skill to others progressing and going on to manage stores of their own.”
Community sits at the heart of everything that Central England Co-op does, and this is one of the major reasons that led to Sean becoming a Board Director.
“Being part of the community and, most importantly, giving back to our communities is our major selling point as a co-operative business,” Sean said.
“Having an outlook focused on community and our members and customers saw me, in 2014, put myself forward and eventually be elected to the Board of Directors as an Employee Director.
“I feel extremely privileged to be part of the Board and to be able to bring ground level knowledge to decisions that shape the future of our Society.
“I also believe that being a Board Director has also helped me in my role as a Store Manager. It not only means I can bring a different outlook and view to my fellow Board Directors but it also means that when decisions are made I have a greater view of why and can use this when trying to implement change with fellow colleagues.”
Juggling the roles of Store Manager and Board Director is not easy, but it is a challenge that Sean embraces.
He added: “I feel real sense of responsibility with both of my roles and can wholeheartedly say that becoming a Board Director was one of the best decisions I have ever made as it has meant that I can enjoy being part of the business on the frontline in store and then take that knowledge to have a real say into the future of Central England Co-operative.”
Away from work, newly-married Sean enjoys walking his dogs with wife Kerry, his camper van and the outdoors and has been devoting time to renovating a 200 year old cottage. He also enjoys spending time with his stepchildren Devon, 23, and Harry, 20, and is really looking forward to becoming a grandfather in June.
Sean summed up his interesting dual roles by offering up the simple reason behind why he does it all.
“I do what I do simply because I want to make a difference to customers, colleagues and the community,” he said.