Movers & Shakers Q&A – Neil Sansom, CEO of Woolovers

Movers and Shakers 2015-Cover

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Neil Sansom, chief executive of Woolovers

1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?

Increasing the brands awareness as we are very much an unknown but have very loyal customers once they experience our product and service.


2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?

We’re changing our IT infrastructure over the next 12 months, with new web platform, new back end systems, new payment provider, and new customer services infrastructure.

3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?

Nothing really, we are going as fast as we can, given the challenges.

4. What is the future of the physical store and the high street?

I still believe in stores and that multi-channel retailing will have a real advantage going forward. However, I’d rather start from a position of no stores than being over-stored and having to exit leases etcetera.

5. What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months?

As stated before, an entire change!

6. With the issue of digital wildfire how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?

I’m not so sure you can control things anymore. It is more about entering the dialogue or conversation and being seen to be proactive. The days of silence and disengagement are gone, I believe people want to see that brands have a point of view and enter the debate.

7. What other retail business do you admire?

ASOS for its sheer innovation and growth they have achieved, Selfridges just for the experience, House of Fraser for the omni channel approach for customers, and Amazon for scale and personalisation.

8. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?

Professional footballer, I was a goalkeeper in my younger days and played semi-pro but not quite good enough! Now a golfer since I’ve taken the sport up but still not good enough!

9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?

Not sure it’s my place to give myself marks out of 10. I’m sure my private equity owners will say ‘they always want more!’

10. Who would you place in the Top 25 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?

In no particular order: Andy Harding, Angus Thirwell, Nick Beighton, John Roberts, Sean McKee, Luke Kingsnorth, and Robin Terrell.