Malcolm Grantham is business development manager at SOS Wholesale. He previously spent 20 years at Tetley Tea.

Better Wholesaling: What was your first job?

Malcolm Grantham: Working in a small independent grocery store in Erith, Kent. I had to call the owner “Mr Campbell” – no first-name terms! The role was diverse: from unloading lorries and working in the back warehouse to serving on the deli counter and taking the money on the till. I loved the job; I loved the customer interaction and it set me up well for my future career in supermarket management when I left school. And, it also gave me a few pennies to spend on Jackie Boniwell, my first girlfriend!

BW: What does your average day involve?

MG: I live near Dover, but work four days a week in our Derby office. I like to be in early, so it’s out of the hotel, a short drive to the office, and on with a brew and a slice of toast or Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

After that, though, there’s no such thing as an average day at SOS. The great thing about the role is its variability. Supplier meetings, customer meetings, new products, projects and data analysis can all be part of the ‘average’ day.

BW: What do you take to work every day in your briefcase?

MG: As well as the normal work related stuff, a copy of Better Wholesaling, of course! But I worked in the Tetley Tea business for 20 years, and as a prompt to the fond

memories of my time spent there, I have a miniature plastic Tetley Tea Folk Gaffer character as well.

BW: What’s the best thing about working at SOS?

MG: SOS is unique in so many ways. It’s a progressive, family, delivered-wholesale business, 20 years old this year, and always looking to improve the way it works, the product-offer and the way it serves its customers.

I’m fortunate to be involved in a lot of the development work, and I get the opportunity to contribute ideas and suggestions to help us.

BW: How would your colleagues describe you?

MG: I thought about emailing 20 or so to get their considered response – but then I thought better of it! I hope they would say I’m hard-working, reliable, a good team-player, flexible, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and always ready to help.

BW: What’s the best advice you have ever been given?

MG: I had a mentor called Bill Spencer in my early retail supermarket career. He was a great guy. He always reminded me to regularly give something back to help somebody else, whether it be time, advice, mentoring, training or solving problems.

BW: Who would play you in the film of your life?

MG: In truth, I would like to do it myself and reprise what has been a blessed 60 years. Perhaps I’d change one or two bits along the way, though! But if I had to choose, it would be the Tea Folk Gaffer in the animated film, or Oddjob from the James Bond series in the digital version. Both carry an uncanny similarity to my good looks, natural charm and girth!

BW: What do you do in your spare time?

MG: I used to be a local league football referee – but I gave this up due to a dodgy groin. My latest new thing is being a grandad, which means lots of spare time being spent down the baby aisle buying nappies, food, wipes, toys and so on. Baby Elliot, already nicknamed Billy, has added an amazing new dimension to family life.

BW: What’s your philosophy in relation to work?

MG: It’s a simple one – enjoy it. And I do.


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