Emma Devonald - Branch Manager Torbay - Otter Garden Centres
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Emma Devonald – Branch Manager Torbay

September 22, 2016 Otter Team Members No Comments

Helping to develop the branch

Branch Manager Torbay Emma DevonaldEducation

A Levels in Biology, English and Business Studies

BSc Environmental Science

CIPD Level 3 HR Management

My career background

I grew up in North Devon, mainly in Braunton. I was originally planning to go into nursing, but after six months I changed my mind and went to Plymouth University to study Environmental Science. After graduating, I realised that work in this sector was hard to find locally. I had worked in Texas Homecare when I ws a student, and they offered me a full time job.

Texas Homecare became Homebase, and I moved up through the ranks until I bacame store manager. I stayed for 15 years, working at Homebase in Barnstaple and Yeovil before moving to Shepton Mallet. This is when I started working in garden centres – including Dobbies in Shepton Mallet and Blue Diamond in Salisbury.

I was really interested in a management position at Otter Nurseries, and when I saw the managership of Torbay advertised, I applied and got it. My family was ready to move from Bristol, so it all fitted perfectly. I started as Branch Manager in 2015, just six months after Otter moved to the Moles Lane site.

A typical day

My days are very varied, but the first thing I do before sitting at my desk is walk round the branch and touch base with everyone. I’m at my desk by 9am and my day is usually shaped by the number of emails I have to deal with.

I might be involved in recruitment, health & saftey inductions and I undertake some of the staff training. Then there is planning and organising, POS, new stock and setting up seasonal displays such as Christmas.

What I enjoy most 

For me it’s the people – interacting with customers, many of whom I get to know. Then there’s staffing, developing the team and getting new people in. We employ people on a seasonal basis, so we always have new faces coming in, particularly at Christmas and spring. I love the seasonal changes, I find them really interesting. And there’s always something to do!

Advice for someone interested in retail management

It’s not a bad idea to start at the bottom and work your way up. Then you learn everything about a retail business – and you can understand issues people have at any level in the business.

The work suits people who are adaptable – if you like things to be ‘just so’ then it’s not the right environment for you. You should enjoy change, challenges and problem solving. Retail is so much more than simply putting stock on shelves.

What I like best about my job

I particularly enjoy display work – I love to be hands on.