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Forever Green & Gold: Simon Davies

After 14 years Simon Davies (Director of Finance) leaves Harrods to a well-deserved retirement. We got some time with him before he goes to share his memories and experiences of working at Harrods.  

How long have you worked at Harrods? 
I have been at Harrods for 14 years, give or take which in many organisations is a lifetime. At Harrods however, given the length of some people’s service, I still sometimes feel like the new boy. 

What has been my career journey? 
Harrods for me is the final chapter in quite a diverse career in retail which actually started when I was 14.  My local corner shop in Reading is where it all began, four hours on a Sunday afternoon for the princely wage of 25p her hour plus all the loose sweets I could eat! From there I worked stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s when I should have been studying for my O levels. I remember once doing a dance around a large trolley of Mother’s Pride bread trying to avoid being seen by my form teacher.  Would you believe it, he came around the next day to talk to my mum! I put retail down for a few years firstly going to University to study Accountancy and Law (biggest mistake ever – too many economists who could tell you all about theory X and theory Y, but knew nothing about real life!) followed by 10 years in the Accounting and Management Consulting profession.

Then the bug got me again. I saw a job advert for a financial controller at the Dixons Stores Group.  All those TVs, HiFi’s, computers and phones, yes, please. Rose through the ranks to become Finance Director of the UK electricals division (Dixons, Currys, and all of Southern Ireland).  Fourteen is obviously my magic number because, after 14 years in a really tough sector of retail (specialist electrical retailers rapidly disappeared in the face of firstly Supermarkets then the internet), I got an offer I couldn’t refuse when Harrods came calling. Started as Deputy Finance Director in April 2007 and here I am retiring in 2021 as the chief bean counter, the big banana, or as some people know me, the Group Finance Director. 

What makes Harrods a special place to work? 
Being the most iconic and prestigious store in the world is a good starter for 10! But really, it’s all about the fantastic people who work here, who really make it a special place. It has been my pleasure to work with a fantastic bunch of people over the years, from the shop floor to the Board Room.   

What will I miss the most about Harrods? 
I think I will start with what I won’t miss, and that is the daily commute. One of the very few positives of the pandemic is my saving of 3-4 hours a day as I have been working from home this year. It’s been a bit of an intro to life in retirement. Who knew that people didn’t actually need to get up before 6 am every morning! So, what will I really miss? It’s the interaction with the people at Harrods; the daily challenges presented by a business always looking to move forward with new ideas and initiatives and the general fast pace of retail. 
  
What advice would you give to someone just starting their career here? 
Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of being different. Always be passionate about your product or your subject matter expertise. It doesn’t matter if you are a sales associate or an accountant; be enthusiastic, take part and make a personal contribution. I have learned that if you try hard enough, for example, you can even make finance sound interesting! It should be a walk in the park for everyone else! 

  
Who regularly puts a smile on your face at Harrods and why? 
The last year has been a bit short of smiles given the pandemic, three lockdowns, and working from home since March 2020! However, the effort put in by everyone to keep our head above water and to get us ready to relaunch (three times!) in these unprecedented times, will be a lasting memory and bring a proud smile to my face.  
  
And finally… 
I would just like to take the chance to thank everybody I have known and worked with.

Find out more about Harrods Alumni, Forever Green & Gold here

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