Store Support Office • 29 August 2008 • The SnowBlog

Store Support Office

There's been news this week of the 'rejigging' of the Borders buying team. I feel for anyone going through organisational changes, simply because it's stressful and distracting, so wish everyone who's going, and staying, well. But it reminded me of a point Rob first made ooh, about 12 years ago, because, in the press release announcing the news, Borders' Head Office was referred to not as the Head Office but as the Store Support Office. That, of course, is what retailers for the last twenty years at least have insisted is the shape of their companies - stores are the sharp end and all those well meaning folk from Head Office are just there to support them. Sometimes it's true. Usually, though, when I was a buyer, I used to wish that stores would just bloomin' well do as they were told because if the company gives the buyer a 20m sales budget to meet, but stores are allowed to do their own thing, the role becomes untenable, quickly. Anyway, Rob's point was this. If Head Office is there to support stores, why isn't it staffed at the weekend and bank holidays, with a freeze on vacations over the Easter and August peak seasonal events and double staffed over Christmas? Aren't these the busiest times, the times when stores need support the most? And surely the point becomes even more relevant if you actually call your Head Office the Store Support Office... Or, in fact, do stores work best when they're busy serving customers without emails, faxes, dictates, reminders, bulletins, allocation reports, sales challenges, and bits of paper marked 'JFDI'* in the top right hand corner (like the Ops director at Superdrug used to use) arriving every quarter of an hour? Personally, I think that if stores were doing as good a job as they have to in the first place, and if head office were organised sufficiently far in advance that there were no last minute changes of plan, there would be no need for all the bits of extra paper - but I'm a weird hybrid of an ex-store manager and ex-buyer, so can see both sides. Makes you think, anyway. * Just Effing Do IT.


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