Women executives in retail #10: Joanne Hall, UK retail operations director, BP.
Joanne Hall, UK retail operations director, BP
Women who have reached senior positions in the retail world are (all too) rare, not to mention invisible, which is why we decided to get to know them better by inviting them to tell us about their career paths, the challenges of the past and those of the future.
Q&A with Joanne Hall, UK retail operations director, BP
Can you tell us a little about your role?
My role is all about making sure we provide our customers with a brilliant, efficient experience when they visit us. Customers spend on average just three minutes in our stores – this means we have to be at the top of our game to impress them. I’m working to ensure that our retail operations are best in class, so that we are enabling our brilliant in-store teams to provide customers with an excellent experience, every time they visit one of our over 300 company-owned stores.
What experience from your previous roles at Sainsbury’s, the Co-operative Group and Lidl have you been able to bring to this current position?
From starting my career at Lidl as a district manager to managing Sainsbury’s regional store portfolio, I have always focused on providing the best customer experience. Whether that means ensuring the right products are available at the right time in the right place, or optimising resourcing, I’m going to be looking at how we can enhance our retail operations at BP to deliver the best possible customer experience, because I believe that really is fundamental to being a top-class retailer.
What advice would you give a young woman who’s about to enter the world of work?
First and foremost, do what you love. I love being in retail, and although there are tough days, I really enjoy my job. And when you enjoy what you do, your passion will shine through, which will help you thrive in your role and progress your career. Just don’t forget to stay true to yourself along the way.
Has being female in the retail sector presented any particular challenges?
I haven’t ever felt any particular challenges in the sector due to being female, as I’ve worked in diverse teams since the beginning of my retail career. I’m lucky to have worked for really supportive leaders, both male and female.
How important is retail to BP?
Convenience is one of BP’s five transition growth engines – the areas we are investing in as part of our transformation into an integrated energy company. We are aiming to double the number of strategic convenience sites globally – the sites where we have a differentiated offer – from 1,600 in 2022 to more than 3,400 by 2030. We’re also aiming to grow customer interactions at our retail sites globally from 12 million a day to more than 15 million a day in just two years.
How does forecourt retailing differ from the high street?
Forecourts have a very different mission to high street retailers. Fuel is not a discretionary category, so our customers are buying an essential item, and we are also serving a transient customer base as well as the local communities in which we operate.
However, we’re seeing more and more customers come to BP forecourts on food-only missions, with over 50 percent of transactions now food-only, instead of fuel-only or food and fuel. This means we need to make sure we’re offering our customers fantastic food and grocery options, whether it’s food-for-later through our strategic retail partners like M&S Food in the UK, REWE To Go in Germany or Albert Heijn in the Netherlands, or our own food-for-now proposition through our Wild Bean Cafe.
We may only have a few minutes to engage with our customers, so it is vital that everything from our product ranges to our facilities are optimised to ensure a convenient, successful customer journey. Ease and speed of experience is often key for our customers, so we want to enhance this experience as much as possible.
How is the rise of electric vehicles (EV’s) impacting your role?
With the growth in EV adoption, we expect to see our customers spending longer on forecourts charging their vehicles. Our challenge is to work out how we flex our current five-minute grab-and-go food offer for a longer customer stay. We are expanding our mobility and convenience network installing BP pulse ultra-fast 150kW EV chargers at many of our existing sites, improving our food-for-now and food-for-later offers and will be implementing hundreds of new, dedicated BP pulse EV charging hubs this decade. It’s all part of giving our customers what they want, when and where they want it. I need to make sure that through this transformation our operations continue running seamlessly – and that’s really exciting.
Do you feel that being a woman boss makes a difference?
I think everyone leads differently whether they are male or female. What’s important to me, personally, is that I lead with strong values, and focus on people – both customers and colleagues.