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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 17/12/2020

We launched a new feature in September so that you can get to know our team a little better! Over the coming months we’ll be asking members of staff from across VisitScotland to tell us a bit about themselves and their roles, as well as some of their favourite places to visit in our beautiful country. In the next of the series hear from Yvonne Carr, our Senior Retail Manager.

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I began my career in Marks & Spencer aged 17 as a Management Trainee. Initially my plan was to stay for one year and then take up a place at university. I guess I got the bug, strange really as the working week was arduous and back in the day the management approach was somewhat unconventional by today’s standards! For reasons that I cannot quite remember, I stuck with it and at 21 was appointed Assistant Store Manager. After that I spent several years with Ortak Jewellery and more recently with New Lanark World Heritage Site.

I was born in Fife and still adore East Neuk. My parents were hoteliers in a variety of locations including coast, country and city which fully encompassed my family. I could pull a pint from a very early age, worked every Christmas Day and holidays were a few snatched days, never far from home and generally out of season and in the rain. I live in Edinburgh now with my three crazy, adorable and always-hungry boys!

What is your role at VisitScotland and what are your main responsibilities?

I'm the Senior Retail Manager and my role is to continually improve the retail offering throughout our iCentre network. This involves every aspect of retail activity including product development and buying, packaging and presentation, pricing, visual merchandising, iCentre retail layout and refurbishment, customer service training, promotions and events, controlling and distributing stock, monitoring and measuring turnover and margins.

It’s not been business as usual at VisitScotland this year. What has your team been doing during these unprecedented times?

I spend a great deal of time visiting suppliers, trade shows, and iCentres, really to get a feel for product potential and looking at sales environments from a creative and innovative perspective. This is impossible via Teams calls! The sales and distribution channels were closed for the key tourist season, but it provided an opportunity to analyse sales, revisit product category planning and ensure that we look ahead with enthusiasm and vigour to next year.  With the support of my team, we have continually liaised with suppliers to ensure progress gets back on track post-COVID. We've also been involved in investigating, scoping and tendering for a new EPOS stock management system implementation, scheduled for spring 2021.

Retail space was limited when our iCentre’s re-opened in the summer, however, an integral part of the preparation was to ensure that our Shop Local suppliers were not only represented but featured and promoted. We've continued to engage with prospective Shop Local suppliers, many of whom would have launched their collections this year, and look forward to working with them, in addition to the 300+ partners we are currently working with, in 2021.

Stornoway iCentre retail display 
Stornoway iCentre

Why is it more important than ever to shop local this year, and what support is there for local businesses?

The Shop Local initiative, where we encourage local crafters and artists to present their product to us for promotion and sale throughout the iCentre network, is more important than ever. The spotlight is on us all to shop in our doorstep communities, support local businesses and play our part in encouraging independent enterprises to thrive. We created an internal film highlighting the importance of Shop Local and reminding everyone to get involved and the feedback has been wonderful, thank you!

Our current #ScotlandLovesLocal campaign emphasises the importance for Scots to shop locally this Christmas. As part of the campaign we're working with partners across the country to showcase the vast range of gifts, products and experiences people can enjoy right on their doorstep. Find out about how you can get involved in the campaign on our Scotland Loves Local industry support page. 

And finally, do you have a favourite place to holiday in Scotland?

My role in VisitScotland requires me to travel all over our beautiful country – how lucky am I! I love the mysterious nature of the islands and I'm always amazed at how unique and diverse they are from the people and landscape, to craft and innovation. But Fife it must be. I love the coastal villages, specifically Pittenweem where my mum still lives in her seaside retreat, small but beautiful and just across the water. Go visit and walk the coastal path – when you can!

Photograph of Pittenweem, Fife

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