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A.F. Blakemore Bids Farewell to Owen Davies

February 26, 2019

After 28 years of loyal service, Blakemore Retail Senior Regional Manager Owen Davies retired from the business in February.

Owen began his retail career in 1977 as a Trainee Manager for International Stores Ltd. He then held several roles before joining A.F. Blakemore’s independent SPAR division in 1991.

Initially Owen reported to Elwyn Davies in the capacity of Senior Retail Operations Advisor for North Wales, before being appointed Area Manager for the Blakemore own-stores group, alongside Geoff Hallam and Stuart Adkin, some 15 months later.

Owen was soon promoted to the position of Regional Manager following the acquisitions of the Tates Lateshopper and LoCost stores groups in 1994.

Since then Owen has been a key member of the Tates and later Blakemore Retail senior management team and has been integral to a number of new developments across the retail estate.

Just a few of the major projects that Owen has helped steer include the launch of the company’s first airport store in Birmingham, the evolution of the in-store Post Office concept, the success of food to go and the expansion of the company’s forecourt estate.  

In addition to this, Owen developed some significant seasonal stores in Wales and established our first ‘pop-up shop’ in a tent on Eisteddfods fields around Wales.

Blakemore Retail Store Operations Director Chris Bacon commented: “From a personal perspective, I know that Owen has valued and will greatly miss the fantastic working relationships, friendships and comradery that he has developed with so many people across the business.

“I am sure that you will all join me in thanking Owen for his friendship and support over the years, and we all wish him a long and happy retirement, where he will be able to spend more time with his grandchildren and wife Gwin.”

We caught up with Owen to find out about his favourite memories of the company: 

OwenTell us about your early years with A.F. Blakemore. Can you remember your first day?

My first day was spent in Willenhall being introduced to the company and its staff – lots of people and lots of names, many of whom still work for AFB today.

For my first 15 months I worked for Elwyn Davies and the BTP Sales team. I then joined Geoff Hallam as an Area Manager for the company-owned stores division – we only had 18 stores at that time but huge plans to grow the business over the coming years – which we accomplished. As we grew as a company I was promoted to Regional Manager, at one stage with seven area managers, and later to Senior Regional Manager for the West region.

The changes in the business over these 28 years have been immense i.e. moving from manually pricing products to scanning products at the checkouts, placing orders on the PC, learning about food service departments, post offices, Lottery, PayPoint, EFTs, Torex, stocking daily papers and also dealing with the changes to the Sunday Trading laws and multiples opening on our traditionally busiest day!

What have you enjoyed most about working here?

I have had a fantastic 28 years working for AFB and I have loved every day, some more than others though!

The most enjoyable part of the job for me was its diversity, no two days were ever the same – we were always developing the stores and leading the way in the convenience sector with store design and formats. It was great to be involved with these developments.

Now I have retired I think it will be the people I’ll miss most though.

What is it that makes A.F. Blakemore special to you?

After working for multinational companies previously, coming to work for a family business was such a positive experience, and being recognised and acknowledged by the family and directors was a huge change from my previous senior roles in the industry.

What are some of your greatest memories at A.F. Blakemore?

The buzz of acquiring new stores and developing and refitting existing stores – fantastically exhilarating to get them open on time.

Celebrating the end of SPAR’s “8 Till Late” trading strap line at the Albert Hall was a very memorable weekend! This took place shortly after commencing my role with AFB.

The SPAR 40th, 50th and 60th celebrations, all of which coincided with my own 40th, 50th and 60th birthdays, were great ways to celebrate at fantastic venues with some excellent celebrities.  

Working with my Team West on charity fundraising events, carrying out work in and for the community with the assistance of the Blakemore Foundation (thanks Liz and Kate). 

And last, but definitely not least, all the amazing conferences, study tours, nights out, meeting so many great people and all the experiences working with this company has afforded me.

What would you say is your biggest achievement at the company?

Last year winning Blakemore Retail’s “Outstanding Achievement Award” – a real honour for me.  

Also winning the “True Taste of Wales Food Award” for the work done on developing local products in our stores in Wales.

How do you see the future of A.F. Blakemore?

I know the plans Blakemore Retail have for developing the business, the stores and ultimately the profitability, so I can only see success in the future for the company.

The new strategy is being managed by great people, which has to be great news for the company moving forward and so I wish AFB every success in the coming years!

Have you got any plans for how you will be spending your retirement?  

Holidays, holidays and more holidays, spending more time with Gwin (I don’t think she is looking forward so much to that though) and being with the grandkids – four now (Steffan, Lwsi, Will and lastly Mabon)!

Photos of Owen

A few photos of Owen with his colleagues over the years

 

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