‘We’re running the new M&S store in Birmingham Bullring - here’s what to expect’

M&S has announced the appointment of two new store managers for M&S in the Bullring in Birmingham city centre
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Emily King and Naomi Hartley have landed two of the best retail jobs in Birmingham.

The dynamic duo are heading up the exciting new M&S store due to open in the Bullring in the city centre in October. The pair will oversee the work between now and later this autumn to get the new 65,000 sq ft store ready to open to the public, working together to transfer the existing team of colleagues in the retailer’s current city centre store into their new home, as well as creating more local jobs with the recruitment of additional team members.

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Emily and Naomi are job sharing the role of Store Manager at M&S Bullring, meaning they will work together as a team to run the store on a day-to-day basis. You may already recognise them as the duo currently job share as Store Manager of the M&S store at Sears Retail Park in Solihull.

The new M&S Bullring store, which occupies part of the retail unit previously home to Debenhams, is set to offer Birmingham shoppers the very best of M&S with a wider range of products than ever before in a fresh market-style Foodhall and stylish, spacious Clothing, Home & Beauty departments.

M&S say new jobs are being created at the new store with existing M&S colleagues relocating. They explained that the new look M&S Bullring store represents a significant investment in Birmingham’s local economy and follows the retailer’s announcement that it plans to invest c. £480 million in its store rotation programme, creating over 3,400 new jobs nationwide.

‘It was perfect timing for both of us’

Emily said: “When we first started talking about the idea, Naomi and I realised that we’d actually started working at M&S on exactly the same day in September 2005 on the same retail graduate scheme. Since then, we’ve followed our own career paths, but now we’re working together as a team – so this job share was obviously meant to be!”

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Emily added: “I remember returning to work after maternity leave and worrying that the options to advance my career working part time could be more limited. My manager did say to me – ‘Why are you holding yourself back just because you now want to work part time?’. That was a key moment for me when I realised I could still progress, and not long after the job share opportunity with Naomi came along. So it was perfect timing for both of us.”

Emily King and Naomi Hartley will be the new store managers at M&S in the Bullring, Birmingham Emily King and Naomi Hartley will be the new store managers at M&S in the Bullring, Birmingham
Emily King and Naomi Hartley will be the new store managers at M&S in the Bullring, Birmingham

‘We feel really privileged to open the new Birmingham Bullring store’

Naomi said: “I’ve got two young children at home, so the idea of a job share was definitely motivated by wanting to be there for my family. But I’m also doing a HR consultant apprenticeship alongside my store manager role, so the job share has given me the time and space to pursue my professional development too.”

Naomi added: “It feels great to know that M&S is supporting me to do this – and that they’ve put their faith in Emily and me to open the new Birmingham Bullring store. It’s one of M&S’s biggest new stores, so we feel really privileged to be chosen to take on such a big job. And yes, there’s a little apprehension when you think of the job ahead, but we just remind ourselves that we both have the experience working together to make this a big success.”

What’s happening at the other M&S store openings?

Naomi and Emily are part of a group of six women leading M&S’s five biggest new store openings in 2023, with each member of the formidable, all-female team running stores in the key city centre sites of Birmingham Bullring and Liverpool ONE shopping centre (manager, Kirsty Williams), and in three of the country’s most popular shopping centres – Leeds White Rose (Justine Brook), Manchester’s Trafford Centre (Laura Smith) and the Lakeside Centre in Essex (Dior Hudson).

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The store managers have more than 115 years of retail experience between them and will lead a combined team of over 1,000 colleagues. The new appointees will take on leadership roles with responsibility for some of the retailer’s biggest and most prominent sites.

Bullring shopping centre in BirminghamBullring shopping centre in Birmingham
Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham

Are there more opportunities to job share at M&S?

Job sharing store management roles are still rare to find in the retail industry, but M&S said it is working to encourage and enable more colleagues to consider this option with the launch of a new Job Share Finder app – a new tool to make flexible working easier for colleagues who are able to job share.

Launched earlier this year, the Job Share Finder app is part of the retailer’s new flexible working offering – Worklife – which also gives retail managers the option to choose to work a four-day compressed week or a nine-day compressed fortnight.

The industry-leading offering for Retail Managers is designed to help M&S colleagues achieve a better work/life balance, as well as helping M&S continue attracting great people who may not realise that these types of flexible options are available in a career in store management.

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