On leaving university ten years ago, Sarah has since carved a career in property working for various companies both in Australia and in the UK. Once she felt it was time to move out of London, she remembered what a good reputation Lidl had and was delighted to see they were recruiting for a regional property consultant.
Where were you before you joined Lidl?
I was working for a property company in London as a commercial general practice surveyor, dealing with a wide range of Landlord and Tenant clients. I have worked in property for over twelve years but joined the Lidl Bridgend property department nearly three years ago, and have more recently moved across to the new Avonmouth property department.
What attracted you to Lidl?
I remembered Lidl from my university days. They had a reputation for having one of the best graduate schemes. When I saw the job advertised for the Bridgend property office. It was just a really attractive role.
What does your role entail?
We get involved right from the start, when we’re looking for sites. We undertake the site sourcing and due diligence associated with this, we design schemes, we negotiate the acquisition transactions, we seek board approval and subsequently run the legal process in order to secure the sites. That’s stage one. For stage two, we typically need to undertake our site surveys and obtain planning consent for the site. Only at the point when the store is ready to be built is the project handed over to my colleague in construction, although my involvement in the site doesn’t fall away entirely. From sourcing the initial site to a store actually opening can take two years, and some sites can take a lot longer.
It sounds really varied. Is it?
Yes, it is incredibly varied. One of the pros is that your knowledge-base improves at such a rapid pace. You get exposure to aspects that you may not necessarily get exposed to in other companies. You're very much involved every step of the way.
What’s your biggest challenge?
The business has committed nationally to opening fifty stores a year. That number only gets hit if all the property offices work to achieve their own KPIs. So there are always multiple projects on the go, all at different stages of the development pipeline and it's just trying to manage that really.
What do you enjoy about your job?
In the long-term, you get to see something tangible for all your hard work - a store. And ultimately that's what Lidl Acquisition Managers strive for. There are inevitably lots of challenges we need to overcome with any new site, so when we get to the point of the new store opening it's often a relief. There are other rewarding stages in the site lifecycle that I enjoy; such as receiving board approval, exchanging on a contract for a new site and obtaining planning permission for a store. I am as proud of the smaller wins as I am of the bigger ones.
Where do you see your future?
We’ve still got a large number of target towns in our region, so I’ll be continuing to work towards opening new stores in those locations.
Can you think of four words to describe Lidl?