Build the bigger picture.
When Jeremy joined Lidl 17 years ago he wanted to be part of a growing retailer. Back then, he could only guess exactly what that might mean to his career. It’s an ambition that’s seen him promoted to head of the department facing a future that’s set to be as progressive as ever.
When did you join Lidl?
I started on 26 July 1999 as a property manager, which is now the same as senior consultant acquisitions.
What attracted you to Lidl?
It was a name I was familiar with. I wanted to move to the client side of things, so I wanted to be part of a progressive retailer who were acquiring sites. I wanted to be part of that.
What does your role entail?
I'm managing a team of acquisitions and construction consultants. I do get involved in the detail, it's not purely strategic, I'm also very hands-on as well. But we basically get judged on how many contracts we get exchanged and how many new stores we build and open. Our primary focus is new store acquisitions. Buying sites, getting planning permission and getting the stores built to hand over to sales, so they can trade. But we're doing all sorts of modernisation projects, same site relocations and relocating stores, as well as disposal work and handling property-related management issues.
What are your main challenges?
It's very difficult to find the suitable sites in the first place. The further south you go, generally it's more difficult because there's less land available. Planning has always been very difficult. To actually achieve planning permission for a food store is not easy. Obviously trying to get deals at the right price, and meeting all our requirements, our corporate requirements… it's all a challenge.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
We built the first LOF (Lidl Of the Future) store in the UK, at Rushden. We also knocked down and rebuilt the Letchworth store which is the number one trading store in the Region. Any new store is a success really.
What's the bit that you're passionate about?
Finding a site, agreeing a deal, getting board approval, opening a new store, getting planning permission. Any of those really. It's a series of hurdles you've got to overcome and it's a long road to get a store opened. Every hurdle is a success but until we clear all the hurdles you don't get a store.
What qualities do people have in property?
Lots of perseverance, they can take the knocks but they can come back again. Detail, they can get on with people, they can communicate very well, they're team players but they can work on their own as well. We have some people with property qualifications but others that have come through sales or have neither. It's all about having the right attitude, the character to succeed. But we all get on well, we have a bit of banter as well. A bit of a laugh. And we work hard and work as a team really.
What is it that makes you stay?
I’ve seen a few changes in the business over the years, I just enjoy the variety of the job, making a difference. It all starts with property. We can’t trade if we don't have property so, it’s a major part of growing the business.
What would you say to persuade someone to join Lidl?
Not many food retailers are expanding like we are, so opportunity. The company looks after their staff. A lot of staff have been here with the business a long time, so that speaks for itself. There's a lot of variety in the job, it's a great company to work for.
What does the future look like to you?
The future looks very busy. It's obviously a very exciting time with the way the brand is developing, the new LOF stores. The way they've been received by the customer, how they look, just the change in the stores over the years. And there's many more years of acquisition and expansion to come.
What four words do you associate with Lidl?
Different, great brand, process-driven, structured