“Always put a currant in the other man’s bun” – 60 seconds with Miriam Simon, founder of retail strategy website pto.ie

60 Seconds With, Interviews | Tue 16 Mar | Author – Business & Finance
Miriam Simon
Pictured: Miriam Simon, founder of retail strategy website pto.ie

Miriam Simon, founder of retail strategy website pto.ie, has made it her mission to ensure that small-to-medium retailers flourish during these challenging times with the creation of the Retail Powerhouse, a subscription-based forum that gives smaller and independent retailers access to retail supports, and expert trading advice, for a nominal monthly cost. 

Miriam has been consistently working with CEOs and business owners prior to and during the pandemic as a mentor and strategic support, delivering external trends, advantageous information or introductions, and inspiration and advice to help them future proof and grow their businesses. 

What was your first job?

Gosh – I started early! We spent several years in England as children, and at the age of 12, I already had two jobs alongside school. I would write book reviews for the Blackpool Gazette features department, and I also worked weekends in a fish & chip shop.

This just wouldn’t be allowed these days, and rightly so.

First big girl job in retail was as a Trainee Manager with Dunnes Stores in NI (circa late 1980s). This led to a very long retail career that’s still ongoing…

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

I’m quite action and achievement oriented, and I stay agile and I am always learning.

As Assistant Vice President of TK Maxx during the economic crash and being responsible for Ireland’s trading strategy during those challenging times – one that comes to mind is the delivery of a new Flagship in Ireland that delivered the most successful store launch in TKMaxx’s worldwide history at that time. This was in October 2009, in the West of Ireland! If that isn’t proof that there is always opportunity if you look for it – I’m not sure what is!

On a more personal note – my children, who are very good people. I also – remarkably summited Kilimanjaro in May 2018.

In three words or less, how do you define success?

Kindness works!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Always put a currant in the other man’s bun.” John Hoerner told me this as a new Manager in the Burton Group. If you want someone to do something for you – you need to approach it from their point of view, i.e. what’s in it for them/why would they want to?

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I’ve high expectations, yet I’m very people focused and have always looked after my teams very well. Be honest straight and kind with people and they will work well with you. It’s all about clarity on the vision and what you’re trying to achieve. And having a bit of craic while you’re at it, of course! Life’s too short not to enjoy what you’re doing.

How do you relax?

I run badly and slowly. I also meditate daily, and see this as a critical life skill in the modern world. I always watch Gogglebox as it makes me laugh – a lot.

What’s your motto?

Work hard. Be kind. Stay humble.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

I see my life and business as intertwined and enjoy what I do greatly. Retail is going through seismic change, and I get great pleasure in helping the retailers that I work with, break down walls and trade very successfully despite the challenges. I’m all about trading strategy and finding the opportunities that others miss, and I’ll keep doing this as I really love it!

During the last year, I’ve been privileged to work with retailers of all size and across the country. From one to one tactical strategy and support, to workshops and webinars aimed at helping retailers mobilise, pivot and continue trading. I also own a subscription-based retail support group for SMEs called the Retail Power House, and my new e-book – Retailing in a Pandemic – How to Thrive, is due for launch later this month.