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How you made it: interview with Lord Kirkham CVO, founder and chairman of DFS

Published: Sunday 26th July 2020

Here at Zoek, we recently welcomed Lord Kirkham of Royal Victorian Order (CVO), founder, and chairman of popular furniture retailer DFS, on our latest guest interview.

Zoek Interviews Lord Kirkham CVO

Best known for founding DFS Furniture plc, stylised as DFS, Lord Kirkham CVO specialised as a salesman of sofas and soft furnishings for over 25 years, before selling the company in April 2010.

Lord Kirkham has since invested in Iceland supermarkets until the stake holding was sold in 2015 and went on to start up Whitby’s award-winning fish and chip restaurants in 2012.

With a wealth of experience and worthy knighthood, the below video interview uncovers Lord Kirkham’s journey to becoming a thriving leader in the retail industry.

Hear what he has learnt along the way and the first-hand advice given to job seekers for their future career development…

Click below to watch the full interview:

Top 3 video highlights

Q: What characteristics or traits do you believe successful people have in common? (06:24)

A: The one golden thread that does run through them all is hard work. I don’t think there is any other common factor actually. To work hard, it is nice if you can find yourself in a job that you like, because if you like it you tend to do it better and spend more time there.

Q: What makes a good fit for someone looking to work in the retail industry? (08:35)

A: That’s an interesting point, because retail isn’t ‘back room’. In the ‘back room’ industry it doesn’t really matter what you look like, how you dress; a lot of these things people don’t see, or even personality sometimes. But if you are involved in retail and you are right at the front, customer facing, clearly you need to be personable. You need to be able to smile. You need to be able to be a good listener. And frankly, I think you do need to look the part – whatever that part may be.

Q: What challenges do you think the retail industry will face while adapting to a ‘new normal’ of social distancing? (15:08)

A: Social distancing varies throughout Europe, and throughout the world actually. But I think if it’s a metre, most retailers will be able to run their business at a metre. And indeed a lot of restaurants and a lot of pubs will be able to do that too. So I think we’re in a bit of flux at the moment, there will be a lot of changes.

It’s an interesting point because whatever the social distancing, whether it’s retail, factories, offices or the city, or any other business. […] What is most important to the business is the people that the business employs. So, even though I may be saying to you that it might be tough and there is more people unemployed, the employers are really looking for the best people. It is the quality of the employees that the employer gets to determine if their business is going to be successful or not. […] The people who are putting themselves forward for the jobs have got to put themselves forward in the best light so that they are the people that get selected and picked.

If you are interested in learning more about different entrepreneur’s work/life experiences, watch our full guest interview series here.

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