Kevin Kirkbride is sales manager at Grimsby-based wholesaler Dee Bee. He is in charge of helping retailers with symbol store development – and owns two symbol stores himself.
What’s the first job you ever had?
I worked on the front line at a TSB bank – I’ve always worked in customer-facing roles. I even managed an independent clothes shop for six years. I’ve been with Dee Bee now for nine years and my main role is symbol store development. I also own two Today’s Group symbol stores, which has given me a great insight into retail.
So you are a wholesaler and a retailer?
Yes, I wear both a wholesale and a retail hat, it means that I’ve got a good insight into retail and can understand what our customers need. It really helps to break barriers when you are working with retailers and helps to build trust – customers really take on board what I say.
What’s the best part of your job?
I really enjoy meeting new people – that’s why I’ve always worked in retail and in customer-facing roles. At Dee Bee, I work closely with retailers to understand their needs and then work together in partnership. It’s my job to educate them about the value of retail clubs, electronic point of sale (EPoS) and the changing marketplace. Standards have gone up in our sector, especially since the multiples moved into convenience. Price is not the be all and end all – you have to create the right shopping environment.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt from your two stores?
The main thing I’ve learnt from being a retailer is the importance of compliance: you’ve got to run retail club promotions as it helps to get customers through the door.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Retire. Just kidding, I’m only 38 so I’d probably buy more symbol stores. We use an EPoS system called Re-Scan so it’s easy to access till data from the office or even from home. I would also like to take my family to Disneyland in the US, but my children are just six, four and a year-and-a-half, so probably a bit too young for a long flight.
Have you been on holiday this year?
Yes, we just got back from Centre Parcs where we had lots of fun go-carting, climbing and doing lots of other activities. I do miss the days when we could get away with just using the free swimming pool all day – it was a lot cheaper.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad always said don’t stretch yourself too much and don’t buy anything you can’t afford. I live by that and even pass it on to other people in my personal and professional life – including our retailers.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
Jason Statham, because we have the same hair (that is, not much of it).
What’s the best prize you’ve ever won?
When I was a teenager, I won some cinema tickets through a competition in the Grimsby Telegraph. I took a friend to see Dune, a science fiction film directed by David Lynch, which was made in 1984. I haven’t won anything since. I’m probably due some luck so I might buy a lottery ticket on the way home.