A WOMAN who began her career with Marks & Spencer on a youth training scheme is back in Huddersfield – as manager of its latest store.
Allison Burnley cut the ribbon to open the new M&S Simply Food store at Wakefield Road, Waterloo.
She was joined by colleague Helen Rowell, who began work with M&S on the same day as Allison 26 years ago at the firm’s New Street store and who is now in charge of training at the Simply Food outlet.
Said Allison: “We used to say that one day we’d run a shop together! To come back to Huddersfield and open this fantastic new store is a dream come true for me.”
Allison, 41, first worked for M&S on work experience when she was a pupil at Newsome High School. She joined the firm on a YTS scheme in May, 1993, but secretly nurtured plans to go to Greenhead College and eventually join the police.
When M&S offered her a full-time job that summer, she jumped at the chance. “I thought working with the public would be good experience for when I joined the police,” she said.
Instead, she loved the job so much, she stayed – only leaving the store to become a performance manager overseeing the food halls at a number of M&S stores.
In 2004, she graduated from Middlesex University as part of an M&S scheme and became store manager at the Castleford branch before working in Leeds – latterly as manager of the Simply Food store at Crossgates.
At the new 7,200sq ft store, she heads a staff of 50 full and part-time staff.
The store, which occupies part of the former Huddersfield Rugby Union ground, stocks more than 2,000 food products, including ready meals, fresh produce, sandwiches, salads and snacks as well as clothing, cut flowers and cards.
The outlet also incorporates energy-saving features, such as dual-flush toilets, self-closing taps and lighting activated by movement sensors. Some 70% of materials used to build the store have been recycled.
Allison, who is married with a 12 year old son, predicted that the new store would appeal particularly to car users.
“Wakefield Road is a commuter route to Sheffield and Wakefield as well, so we expect to pick up on that,” she said.