This week’s Business Focus is with Tracy Harvey of the Harvey’s department store in Halifax.
What is your business motto?
Treat people how you would wish to be treated, don’t ask someone to do a job that you are not prepared to do yourself, and always try and support other local businesses.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Look for a niche market. The whole marketplace is overcrowded these days with companies trying to be the cheapest which, as a small business, you can never be. Find something that really interests you, that you feel can add value to someone’s life in some way and be prepared to work hard!
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
I came to the business when it was over 60 years old. During my 25 plus years with the business, the retail scene has changed beyond all recognition. The advent of out-of-town shopping centres was the start of the change, then of course, the internet altered everything. It has become increasingly difficult to compete against on-line retailers who do not have the same overheads as a high street business so we try very hard to differentiate ourselves on customer service and experience. It is genuinely the only way in which we can have a point of difference.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Being able to make decisions quickly without having to go through layers of management. Reacting to the fast pace of retail is crucial and we have free rein to make make changes as the market dictates.
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
The heavy burden of responsibility it beings - to ensure the business remains profitable and keep 100 plus people in jobs can give me sleepless nights!
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
Some of the successful business women who found a market in what was a man’s world like Estee Lauder, to help women feel better about themselves. In more recent times, ladies like Michelle Mone, Karren Brady and Jo Malone have been very inspiring. On a more personal level, my father Roger is a complete inspiration to me. He still battles passionately for Halifax day in, day out.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Being appointed managing director of Harveys in 2004.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
At Harveys, we are a home for literally hundreds of brands, many of which are exclusive to us in Halifax. We have worked so hard over recent years to introduce brands like Barbour, Moda In Pelle, Valentino, Superdry, Fjall Raven, Gant, Orla Kiely and White Stuff to Harveys. These are brands that people expect to have to travel to Leeds or Manchester for but we have been successful in bringing them to Halifax, often for the first time. I see this only developing further over the next five years, becoming a haven for affordable luxury.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
Funny you should ask this, as I have just this week seen the product that I wish I had invented. A huge gap in the market has been a totally seamless, non-wired, bra top. Just this week we have ordered a brand new range from Sloggi which launches in the UK in February 2018 and I believe it will revolutionise the lingerie market. A women literally can not feel she is wearing it. It was trialled recently in Japan and to date, it has sold 1.8 million units. Watch out for this one ladies!
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
Other than my own, it would still be in retail as I truly believe it is the best industry to work in. Maybe Waterstones, as my other love is books - would be good to combine the two!