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Week at the top

Gerard Roche is a Director of the Irish company, Dublin Woollen Mills, a family-run retail business founded in 1888. Gerard has been actively working in the company since 1982. He is married to Angela and they recently had a baby boy, Harry

Monday morning begins as normal with a meeting with my shop manager, Mairead. We look at our staffing levels for the week ahead and discuss what work needs to be carried out by our employees over the next week. After this meeting, I normally look at the sales reports from the previous week and see what needs to be ordered in. This takes me to lunchtime, when I do what I often do: come down to the shop floor to help out for an hour or two. I like to do this as it helps me to keep in touch with how things are on the shop floor. It also allows me to meet and talk with customers. The rest of the afternoon is taken up with other issues including correspondence and dealing with telephone calls to suppliers.

I meet with my brother, Bernard, who is also a director in the business. He takes care of our corporate business, website and overseas correspondence. We discuss any major internal issues as well as forming ideas to help promote the business. I then do another hour on the shop floor at lunchtime. Tuesday afternoons are often spent dealing with customer requests and complaints. Not the most interesting of tasks but it does need to be attended to.

This morning I go to a seminar being held by the local police regarding credit card fraud. This is a problem that is on the increase globally and it should be informative and interesting. This is normally the quietest day in the shop from a business perspective. It is a good day for me to arrange appointments off-site seeing some of my suppliers. This afternoon, I have an appointment to see two representatives from a company called Men's Marketing. They show me a  range of knitwear and outer jackets from next autumn's collection. The rest of the afternoon is spent on the shop floor.

Once a month, my brother and I meet with our cousin who is another director in the business and who runs our other business called Woollen Mills Trimmings. This is a wholesale and retail business that deals in haberdashery, fabric and craft materials. We review the previous month's results for both companies and any other relevant issues. We also deal with future strategies for both companies.

Today, we are beginning our 'Ladies Fashion Summer Sale', so the morning is spent erecting signs and marking goods down in price. This helps to clear our spring/summer fashion stock in order to make room for our autumn/winter stock that will start to arrive at the end of July. The afternoon is spent sorting out some of our older stock that also needs to be reduced in price and brought down on to the shop floor. The timing of the sale is important as it needs to coincide with the sales happening in the other clothing shops around the city, so that we reap the benefits of more shoppers in the city centre.

This is my day off this week, since I am working over the weekend. I plan to come into the city with my wife and son to buy some items for our summer vacation. We are going to Portugal in a week's time and are very excited because it will be our first holiday with a child. Typically, I like to spend as much time as possible with my family when I am not working. I sometimes try to help with the chores in our house and/or in our garden. During the summer, I sail on my boat that I own with four other people. I am fortunate enough to live near the sea so that I am able to indulge this passion. My wife, Angela, sometimes comes out as she also enjoys sailing. We actually met each other through sailing.

The first thing I do when I arrive at work  is to organise the float for the cash register. I print off the sales for the previous day on the computer and try to carry out any office work that needs to be done before the shop gets busy. I then spend the rest of the day on the floor with the rest of my staff attending to customers and taking sales. In the late afternoon, I arrange for replacement products to be brought down to the shop floor for trading on Sunday.

We are only open in the afternoon on a Sunday. Opening on a Sunday is a relatively recent phenomenon for shops in Dublin (2-3 years). Before that, shops would only open on Sundays for the run up to Christmas. Now it is all year. It seems to have been the British chain stores that pushed the idea originally and everybody followed. I think that it is sad in a way, as it does affect family life. Working on a Sunday is a fairly relaxed affair as it is quieter than a Saturday. When I work on a Sunday, I work the entire time on the shop floor as we only use a minimum number of staff on this day.

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