Chris Lawlor Store Manager Award Finalist

Category D: (International), Finalist

Chris Lawlor

Eurospar Wallace Village/Henderson Retail
Lisburn, United Kingdom

The fact that he doesn’t seek out credit is exactly why his colleagues nominated Chris Lawlor for a FMI Store Manager Award. His natural humility – evident in one of his favorite phrases about “Our wee team!” – enables him to focus on the business at hand, on others around him, and has been a key factor in lifting the store’s performance.

The Eurospar in Wallace Village in the city of Lisburn had only been open for five years when Chris arrived three years ago but was already stalling and struggling in some aspects of the business. A veteran of Henderson Retail operations, he also helped turn around another Eurospar store. Chris spotted opportunities for improvement immediately and went to work in his quiet but powerful way.

He helped solve one major issue of getting stock on the shelves, leading to the chain’s first deployment of the RELEX replenishment system. Unknown loss has since declined by 82% and the number of average gaps per visit fell to 25 from 200. The more efficient system has freed up staff to engage directly with shoppers to enhance their experience.

Understanding that today’s shoppers like and want fresh products, Chris added more meat and poultry items from a new butcher, enhanced deli offerings, introduced local bakery items and upped the number of fresh food items. To support those expanded assortments, he added 12 associates to handle the workload.

He also showed consumers and nearby residents how the store cares about them by expanding outreach efforts. Along with his team, Chris worked with community centers, support groups and even served more than 100 Christmas dinners to those in need. He regularly provides back-to-work opportunities to people who have been having a hard time finding jobs.

While he isn’t the kind to tout or rest on any laurels, Chris has a lot to be proud of in terms of his performance. Within a year of taking the helm as manager, the store experienced a sales increase of 29%, a 44% lift in net profits and a 9% cost reduction.

His team of 70 gives him kudos for elevating the culture and, in the words of a nominator, demonstrating to associates that, “they have a part in showing what it takes to make us great.” To facilitate collaboration, he took blinds off office windows, rolled up his sleeves to help on the floor and provided new uniforms. Chris’s servant leadership was also apparent when he supported a colleague whose father passed away with Alzheimer’s disease by creating a fundraising campaign. In his typical modest way, Chris inspires others beyond his location, supporting the retailer’s regional group of eight stores through additional coaching and mentorship.