Women executives in retail #12: Claire Farrant, VP of marketing for mobility & convenience in Europe at BP.

Claire Farrant, VP of marketing for mobility & convenience in Europe at BP.
Claire Farrant, VP of marketing for mobility & convenience in Europe at 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 Claire Farrant, VP of marketing for mobility & convenience in Europe at BP.


Can you tell us a little about your role at BP that involves mobility and convenience retailing? 


My role is to ensure we maintain a customer-first approach across the business. We want our customers to choose us for all their journeys, whether that be for fuel, EV charging, a cup of coffee at our Wild Bean Cafe, a hot snack for now, or food for later served by BP and our retail partners.   

As we become an integrated energy company and expand our retail and loyalty offers, we have more and more opportunities to serve customers and meet their demands. I lead a team of over 150 marketing colleagues across Europe that works to meet these customer demands. I am the brand guardian across these markets, delivering strategic plans for the brand regionally and locally, working closely with our carefully selected retail partners, and enhancing our exciting value-added loyalty schemes. 


What experience from your previous role at Lidl UK are you bringing to your current position? 


Having been in retail for over 20 years, I can attest that it is extremely competitive and fast-paced; so any retail strategy has to be agile so it can pivot, should the customer and business demand it. As we transform our business at BP, my team and I ensure our European marketing strategy is agile by remaining well-informed through data, competitor and consumer insights. This helps us stay aligned with the business’ vision and objectives. 

Like Lidl, BP is a global organisation, and the UK is one of the largest and most competitive markets. Both during my time at Lidl and in my new role at BP, I am responsible for building a marketing strategy that delivers for customers, while driving and supporting the growth of the brand across these markets. I need to, at times, suitably challenge the global and local markets, while keeping the customer at the heart of decision-making. 

In both roles, my team and I regularly assess how we can work across Europe efficiently and effectively, sharing local initiatives that can work elsewhere. However, there are still times where we need to focus and operate at a local level, so we remain relevant to our audience and to meet their needs.  


What areas are you specifically focusing on this year and next? 


First and foremost, we are focusing on driving growth, in both our services and the products we offer. This means that we are working closely with our retail partners to deliver quality products at the best price across food for now and food for later.  

We are also focused on driving our loyalty programme across Europe, rewarding our most loyal customers with instant perks, whether that’s savings on in-store purchases or experiences with our partnership loyalty portfolio. 

Finally, we are expanding our knowledge and capability through recruitment across my European marketing team. We want to enhance our team’s skillset so that we can provide the most competitive service possible across mobility and convenience. 


What do you see as the biggest opportunities in your role – I understand convenience retail is a big deal for BP? 


One of the biggest opportunities in my role is taking BP’s European presence into the next era. This means future-proofing the business as it transitions, while continuing to serve our customers and meet their demands at every visit, with only the best quality products & services. I am also excited to work towards our net zero commitment. This includes providing lower carbon energy for our customers and the planet.  


Has being female in the retail and energy sectors presented any particular challenges? 


No, not at all. BP is very diverse when it comes to its people, its thinking, and the opportunities available across all roles, markets, and its hierarchy. I am surrounded by a team of very senior women in BP who have come from various backgrounds and experiences, both in and outside of BP. There is also a number of female engineers at BP, in roles that until recent years were more male-dominated. I have a daughter who is 16, and I like to think that opportunities like those at BP are available for her, and that she is growing up in an era where anything is possible.


How differentiated is the retail offer and its associated marketing at BP? 


From the fuel and energy we sell, to our own branded Wild Bean Cafe coffee and our retail partnerships, we want to be there for life’s journeys. And on these journeys, we believe our customers should be rewarded for their loyalty, so our aim is to surprise and delight with offers and products that our customers love.  

This commitment to offering the best experience possible is our unique point of differentiation. To ensure we fulfil this commitment, we openly ask our customers about their experience with us and how we can continue to improve through our ‘Voice of Customer’ platform. As marketers, it is our job to not just hear our customers’ feedback, but to put that feedback into action so we can continue to improve. 


What advice would you give a young woman who’s about to enter the world of work? 


Do what you love. Chances are, you’ll be good at it, so you won’t mind or notice the effort you are putting into your career. Don’t worry about having a linear journey, either. There’s a lot to be said for finding your mojo later in life – a squiggly career can serve you well, so enjoy your journey getting there and remember to stay present. 


Do you feel that being a woman boss makes a difference?  


No, a good leader is a good leader, regardless of gender. I also don’t think of myself as a ‘boss’ – I really don’t like that phrase! I prefer to think of myself as a leader. My style is to provide a framework to build trust and courage within my team, encouraging them to step up and challenge themselves over and above their day-to-day. My favourite part of my role is supporting, coaching and mentoring my team; empowering them to appreciate and seize all the opportunities they are given throughout their career.