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Interview: Superdrug people director Amy Davies

by Ozva Admin


Hear us talk to Superdrug’s chief people officer, Amy Davies, about her role, the challenges for retail HR in these trying times and Superdrug’s recently launched employer brand that celebrates the diversity of a career in retail.

Previously chief people officer, Davies was promoted to chief people officer earlier this year.

Please tell us about your background before joining Superdrug.

Before Superdrug I worked in various people team roles; I started in an employee relations position at Jaguar and Landover Cars. I then moved into employee relations looking after a team of 950 and working with the union and later took on a workplace strategy and employer engagement role involving all things wellness, inclusion, reward and recognition. This was the beginning of my passion for wellness and inclusion at work and these are areas that I truly champion in my role at Superdrug.

How would you describe your work?

As People Director for Superdrug and Savers, I manage a wide scope, from traditional HR responsibilities such as recruitment, culture and employee support. I also collaborate with business partners to ensure we live out our core values, uphold the unique culture of both brands, and develop people strategies that help meet company expectations while satisfying and supporting employees. The position is quite data-driven and requires intensive leadership, and I spend a lot of time on the shop floor, in stores across the country.

It has been a difficult time for Human Resources in the last three years; What do you consider to be the main challenges of the profession?

Recruitment and retention are top of mind. The competition for talent is intense and will only increase as companies invest more in finding the right people for the job. Hiring is more competitive than ever due to a talent shortage, not to mention the pandemic has affected work life as we know it. Chiefs of staff have to figure out how to manage employees and maintain company culture across spaces and time zones, while ensuring they stay up to date with the latest benefits packages and supporting employees with their mental health.

How do you plan to address those challenges?

We know how important it is to listen to our teams and stay connected to their perspectives. All industries today are experiencing the same challenges, so we’re mindful of making sure we’re a brand people want to work for. From our culture to our key strategic pillars; development, inclusion and wellness, we work hard to stand out from the crowd. Unsurprisingly, we’re focusing on how we support our teams with the current cost of living crisis and have enhanced our team discounts, as well as providing financial webinars to help those who need help in areas like pensions, budgeting and wellness. financial.

What have retail HR leaders learned from the pandemic?

The pandemic has taught us many lessons. As organizations came together to respond to the crisis, the biggest challenge for the HR function was how to keep the workforce safe, motivated and engaged. We handle the situation by being authentic, empathetic and resilient. The most important thing for me was to be agile/quick and resilient in all approaches, while also ensuring that well-being remained at the forefront. Our teams were key workers during the pandemic, for me personally seeing the commitment and loyalty they showed us and our clients will stay with me for a long time.

A few months ago, Superdrug launched a new employer brand to celebrate diversity and showcase the benefits of a career in retail. Can you tell us more about that?

We launched the ‘Where You Can Be’ employer branding initiative to highlight the vibrancy and diversity of a career in retail. Putting current Superdrug employees center stage, the campaign was created to showcase the benefits of a career at Superdrug and raise awareness of the many roles available in retail. The campaign focuses on the fact that whatever your role, the only thing that matters is that you can be yourself. We want people to be able to be themselves at work and to be authentic, as this is when we bring out the best in them and they are able to really shine.

I am a firm believer that our people make Superdrug the business that it is, and this campaign highlights the diversity of a career in retail. We nurture and develop talent on our teams and hearing the stories used in our campaign makes me proud to be a part of such an amazing business.

We note that Superdrug and its sister brand Savers have a very established learning scheme. Can you tell us more about that and any news?

Superdrug and saver apprenticeship schemes have been running for over 15 years. The schemes take school leavers from an apprenticeship level 2 (equivalent to GSCE) to level 6 (equivalent to a degree) and Superdrug has been recognized as the best apprenticeship employer in retail. Since its launch in 2007, more than 4,500 people have qualified, and since 2017, 30% of apprenticeship graduates have remained in the Superdrug and Saver businesses.

We are passionate about providing opportunities for young people in the UK and our apprenticeship plan is critical to developing talent for the future. Our goal is not only to give young people, but everyone, the best possible entry into retail, but also to help them grow and develop in their roles, so that they choose to progress in their careers within our businesses. There are many opportunities at Superdrug and Savers from roles within retail, operations, healthcare, beauty services, distribution services and at head office, we look to support our colleagues in seeing longevity in their career with us.

How are you building loyalty among your employees and keeping them engaged?

We understand that loyalty must be earned and we have several principles to this end. We are very clear about our values ​​and goals to ensure everyone is on the same page.

We care for and get involved with our employees, first as people and then as workers. We keep a constant eye on work/life balance and look for regular opportunities to connect with them on a personal and professional level, bringing teams together at conferences and regular development and communications sessions.

We also have various rewards and incentive programs to show our appreciation and reward our teams with something meaningful to them. Employees go further when they know that they are considered more than a cog in the wheel: they are also people with other responsibilities outside of work.

There has been a lot of talk lately about retailers becoming ‘purpose driven’ organisations. How can you get this?

As always, these trends are driven by changes in consumer behavior. We know that a large percentage buy according to their values ​​and we firmly believe that companies should do more to preserve the environment. To retain customers, retailers must be authentic in their purpose and transparent in their process. At Superdrug, we’re very clear about the difference we’re making as a business: making beauty and health accessible to all, whether that’s through our prices, our range, where you can buy and our sustainable own-brand range.

Join us at Retail Bulletin’s glittering People in Retail Awards event on September 21, 2023. More details on sponsorship, ticket sales and award entry criteria can be found. here

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