Leading Celesio UK: nearly two years on

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director at Celesio UK, including LloydsPharmacy.

Today I met with a group of current and aspiring leaders at Retail Week Live’s Emerging Leaders Forum, and talked about what it takes to change a business through leadership.

Putting together my presentation for this event has made me pause to consider my own progress over the past two years – but also how far Celesio UK as a whole has come in that period.

It’s easy to forget how much we’ve changed in such a short period of time.

When I took the role of Managing Director for Celesio UK in 2013, we were in a very different place. Take LloydsPharmacy, for instance: while other legendary high street names disappeared, we dug in and set about reinvigorating the LloydsPharmacy brand. The look and feel of more than 300 pharmacies has been updated making them positive places to seek professional healthcare advice.

Not only that: we continue to push for innovation in pharmacy, rolling out three in-pharmacy First Care minor ailment clinics and the first LloydsPharmacy First Care Clinic in an A&E department.

We continue to evolve the business to survive in a tough retail environment by creating an omni-channel retail experience, giving customers the chance to order online and collect in store. Opening our first bricks and mortar Betterlife store last year bucked the current shift towards online retail, but has proved a huge success.

The results speak for themselves: our bricks and mortar retail sales year on year were up nearly 6 per cent in 2014 – and online sales 18 per cent.

So what changed? As Managing Director, I think the most crucial shift has been liberating colleagues to make positive change themselves: giving them the skills and the opportunity to engage with the challenges across our business – and to speak up when they see where they can make a change.

The latest results from our colleague survey make me proud: since 2013, 10 per cent more colleagues said that they believe in our strategy and values – and 70 per cent are proud to work for Celesio UK.

It feels like we’ve started tidal wave of positive change and innovation across the business and I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2015 holds.