A Conversation with Luke Jenkins: From Temporary Customer Assistant to Store Manager at M&S

Luke Jenkins, Store Manager at Oatlands Harrogate, tells us about his progression and personal growth in his career so far. Read on to learn more about his journey from a Customer Assistant to now successfully running his own multi-million pound store.

What initially attracted you to apply for a job at Marks and Spencer?

I've always admired M&S for its heritage, reputation, and values. From the best products to the best people, M&S has always had this special buzz around it. So, when the opportunity came to join, I knew it was the right move and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.

Can you share a bit about your journey at M&S, from when you first started to your current role as Store Manager?

I joined M&S at 16, working as a temporary colleague in the Menswear department in Llanelli, South Wales. That's where I first fell in love with service and selling. After a couple of years, I left to go to university but found my way back to M&S in 2020, this time as a Foods Team Manager. From there, I've had the opportunity to take on various roles, including as a Deputy Store Manager for both Clothing & Home and Foods, before landing my current role as Store Manager at Oatlands Harrogate Simply Foods. It's been quite the journey!

My role as a Store Manager means that I get to run a fast paced, large turnover store. Running a store of this scale means that I have a huge responsibility to succeed. I see the store like running my own business and therefore it’s my responsibility to push for continuous improvement and increase customer spend. It’s a very busy role but I love the opportunity to develop my team, represent the M&S brand in-store and work alongside senior stakeholders everyday.

What do you enjoy most about working for M&S, and what keeps you motivated in your role?

For me, it's all about the people and leading my team. Being able to achieve results together is an amazing feeling. M&S has this great culture where you can truly be yourself as a manager and let your personality shine through. Plus, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing your team succeed.

How has M&S supported your career development and progression within the company?

I can't say enough about the support and development opportunities I've received at M&S. The amount of resources, courses, and mentorship available is incredible. The development I’ve had has meant that my progression has been really quick. In 2021 I was promoted from a Team Manager to a Deputy Store Manager after only one year. I couldn’t have done that without the support and encouragement of my managers and colleagues.

Across my M&S career, I've had a steep learning curves, but it's been fantastic for my growth and development. The endless opportunities for progression keep me motivated and hungry for more.

What has been your proudest career moment at M&S so far?

That's a tough one, but I'd have to say being asked to run the largest Simply Food stores in the business has to be up there. It was quite surreal, being responsible for such a large operation and team of 100 colleagues at just 25 years old. It's been a challenging yet rewarding experience, and definitely one of my proudest moments.

I’ve also been given the opportunity to lead and deliver two successful store renewals which always come with high expectation. I’ve really enjoyed the challenges that have been put to me and I’ve enjoyed motivating my team to achieve.

What makes M&S a special place to work?

Without a doubt, it's the people and the customers. The energy, warmth, and passion you find at M&S are truly special. The company still has that same magic it had when I first started, and that's what makes it such a great place to work.

Lastly, what advice would you give to someone considering a career at M&S?

My advice would be to go for it! Whether you're starting in a temporary role or joining through another avenue, M&S offers so many opportunities for growth and development. Be yourself, work hard, and embrace the challenges. It's been the best decision I've ever made, and I wouldn't change a thing.

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