Welcome to ‘Interview with an entrepreneur’, a new where we talk to entrepreneurs and industrialists and delve into their business mind. Today we interview Peter Pritchard who is the Commercial Director of Pets at Home, the largest pet supplies retailer in the UK.

The business has one a variety of awards including: Oracle Retail Week Awards 2010 – Speciality Retailer of the Year, Oracle Retail Week Awards 2010 – Retail Employer of the Year and is a member of the Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for 2010, 2011 & 2012.

Peter Pritchard

Peter Pritchard

What does your average workday consist of?
No two days are ever the same which is why it is so much fun.  There are few things which are the same each day and I’m pretty sure every retail business is the same in that the first subject of the morning is always “how did we do yesterday?”  So we always look to the sales, our availability, understand what we did well for customers and where we could have improved.  That sets the tone for the day.  If something isn’t right, we focus our attention on getting it right before we even consider doing other things.

My working days can either be visiting stores, meeting with colleagues in our offices to discuss ranges, marketing campaigns, our internet operation, visiting with suppliers, traveling to our offices in Asia, visiting competitor stores.

How will you deal with increasing competition in your industry?
Competition is great.  Anyone in retail will tell you that it is competition that keeps you on your toes.  The skill for any retailer is to know their customers and their needs better than anyone else.  Then deliver back against those needs better than anyone else… that’s how you create value and loyalty with your customers.  The real change I think over the last 20 years for me has been the speed of the competition and how great ideas don’t remain exclusive for very long.  Things get copied quickly, replicated or sometimes over taken.  So you have to stay one step ahead all the time, which means you have to invest time and energy learning, listening to your customers and finding new ways to win their loyalty.

Do you believe your target market has changed?
It doesn’t change as such but it evolves.  As market leader part of our job is to create new markets, find new ways to serve customers and new ways in which they can enjoy the company of their pets through engaging with their pets, through play and exercise etc.  Or find better ways for them to look after their pets through better diets.  The market for pets is static I.e. animal ownership is static so growing the market is a challenge.

Did you grow up in an entrepreneurial environment?
Sort of.  Growing up in a council estate in Liverpool meant that you didn’t have much.  Sounds like a sob story but it’s not.  I had a great upbringing with parents who taught me the value of hard work, never expecting anything for free and understanding that hard work paid dividends in the long run.  I started working early in life, paper boy then shop assistant so if by entrepreneurial you really mean the ability to create value… the answer would be yes.

How do you see your industry developing in the next 3-5 years?
I see it becoming more complicated, faster and more competitive… that will be the answer I think for any industry.  Technology is bringing with it transparency, speed and increased competition…

What three pieces of advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting out today?

  1. Take time to learn.  Whatever it is that you want to do, start at the bottom and truly understand your industry, job whatever.  With knowledge comes insight.  With insight comes opportunity.
  2. Success only comes in my experience with really hard work.  Your career is a marathon not a sprint.  You have to put the hard work in all the way along to get the benefits.
  3. Treat people well.  Business is about people whether it is about customers or colleagues.  Act with integrity, be honest and build trust.  There is no such a thing as a minor lapse of integrity.