Retail Insider, in partnership with Novomind, held its latest ‘Zoom Cocktail Hour’ with Catriona Marshall, owner of Running Bear Sports, who talked about the differences between holding senior positions within large global organisations and running your own small operation.

Having spent time at Mars and Kraft in FMCG followed by senior roles at Pets At Home and Hobbycraft before buying single store retailer Running Bear Catriona was perfectly placed to highlight the pros and cons of being involved with different sized organisations.

She felt the biggest jump was moving from Asda into the much smaller Pets At Home, which was a family-owned operation. While at the business she also experienced working under private equity ownership, which she believes has many advantages. This was also the case at Hobbycraft.

Catch some of Catriona’s insights here.

Senior executives from the likes of Amazon, Hobbycraft, Pets At Home, Rank Group and Laithwaites heard Catriona discuss the challenges of heading up a smaller operation that includes limited resources whereby any special projects rely on pulling people out of their day jobs. At larger companies there is the luxury of being able to bring in consultants or call on in-house specialists.

Under such constraints she is very much an advocate of collaboration and partnering with external specialists. This is particularly relevant for technology and within this area Catriona says she very much focuses on off-the-shelf solutions.

She also told the senior retail executives on the Zoom call how Running Bear had been dealing with Covid-19 and its plans for the future, which includes building up the online part of the business and developing a virtual running club. This will help it engender a richer level of engagement with its customers.

Alongside Running Bear Catriona has also been able to continue her commitment to raising money through her sporting activity, which she says limits the appeal of her returning to a large company environment.

“The balance of life is too good. I feel I can give more back now and I’m enjoying being able to incubate a small business while the future direction evolves,” she says.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Catriona Marshall for sharing her experiences and insights and also to Novomind for its much valued support of this latest series of Retail Insider Zoom Cocktail Hours.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider