Sharpshooter Martin is back in charge at Shewsbury Marks and Spencer

A keen archer has set a target of creating 11 new jobs on his return after ten years to manage a flagship Shrewsbury store.

Martin Woodhouse is back at the helm of the top retailer’s branch which opens onto the town’s busy Darwin Shopping Centre.

The 43-year-old is planning some innovative changes, the most important being the introduction of 11 new roles in the food and clothing department which will start with the introduction of highly trained specialist food advisors who will be able to help customers with their choices.

The new posts have in turn created new vacancies at the store and Martin, from Stourbridge, said: “We want to try and create more customer facing advisors and we will be doing this first in the food zone by having specially trained staff who will constantly be working in a specific area, for example international meal.

“They will become familiar with the products and be able to give customers guidance when they are making their selection.

“I am hopeful we will begin to take this approach across the whole store with staff becoming experts in all the different areas including hosiery and jewellery.

“The staff like it because they know they will always be working in a specific area and can really get to know and understand their products so they are better equipped to help customers.”

Martin said the aim of his new approach was to take the Shrewsbury store to the next level in customer service.

He said: “Marks and Spencer has always been great at service, it is what we are famous for, but we are always looking at ways in which we can use this to distance ourselves from the competition – what is so different about us?”

Martin, who has managed stores all over the UK, including Stafford, Weston-super-Mare and Birmingham, said: “I have managed a lot bigger stores but I have always asked that if I could get the chance to return to any of them, then Shrewsbury was always my first choice.

“I always felt the store had so much potential and I really wanted to get back to finish off what we started all those years ago.”

His daughter, Amelia, was born just two days before he first left the busy Darwin shopping centre store to other roles within the great British retailer.

Now aged 10, Amelia is starting secondary school next year and is a keen Rihanna fan, like her dad, who is delighted to be back at Shrewsbury where he had some of the first major successes of his 18-year retail career.

Martin, an archer and chairman of the Stourbridge Company of Archers , believes in clear targets for his store and its staff

Back then he was determined Shrewsbury would make more than its much larger neighbour in Wolverhampton and remarkably it did.

He was responsible for introducing Per Una into the store, increasing ranges and styles for the town and he also set up a customer consultation group in an effort to better understand what the shoppers of Shrewsbury needed, something which he is keen to kick start once again.

He said: “Ninety per cent of my time is spent on the sales floor of the store talking to the customers and working with the team because it is no use being shut up in an office in the back.”

He added: “We were very vocal in the town the last time I was here. It was during the floods, during the petrol crisis and we were always involved in the community and what was going on. I managed to talk Craig, the first ever winner of Big Brother, into turning the Christmas lights on in the town and there was the biggest turn out in the town ever seen before.

“Since I have been away there have been car parking charge rises and changes in bus connections and I would like the store to have been more involved in decisions such as these.”

The avid reader of Wilbur Smith novels said Shrewsbury has always had a very strong community feel and added: “The people are always so friendly and so proud of their town and this is reflected in the terrific way that people from old to young really care about the look of the town.

“Shrewsbury has some fascinating shops and some terrific restaurants and delicatessens which gives it a real focus as a shopping destination and helps differentiate it from normal shopping towns. I really do enjoy working here.”

Anyone interested in job vacancies at M&S in Shrewsbury or in being part of the customer consultation group there can contact the store by emailing or simply calling in.

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