New Trimart CEO – “Great brands don’t happen by accident”

The new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Trimart Supermarkets believes the18 years she spent at leading airline brand, Virgin Atlantic, will positively influence her new role in leading and transforming the Trimart brand.

Judith Wilcox says: “I’ve always believed that great brands don’t happen by accident. Strong strategic and operational leadership, market savvy and dynamic brand management are as essential for airlines as for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses. I’m enjoying being able to translate my commercial knowledge and brand experience to Trimart‘s benefit.”

At the helm of Trimart for two months now, Ms. Wilcox, a former Regional Manager Caribbean for Virgin Atlantic, sees several synergies between the retail and aviation industries. “After all, an airline seat is a highly perishable product and the aviation market is very competitive. I am fortunate in having my 18 year Virgin experience (10 of them in the Caribbean) to draw on for many aspects of the CEO role.

Busy year for Trimart ahead

This year will be a busy one for Trimart with a number of strategic initiatives being implemented starting with an upgrade of the business systems.

"This will give us the tools to really manage and steer the business in a way we haven't previously been able to," Ms. Wilcox explained. "The challenge is to use that information intelligently to the benefit of our customers, staff and shareholders. This will lead to better buying, better deals, better range, better management and better merchandising of our stock. It's a very exciting time for Trimart and I'm really enjoying being able to lead the change."

“This will give us the tools to really manage and steer the business in a way we haven’t previously been able to,” Ms. Wilcox explained. “The challenge is to use that information intelligently to the benefit of our customers, staff and shareholders. This will lead to better buying, better deals, better range, better management and better merchandising of our stock. It’s a very exciting time for Trimart and I’m really enjoying being able to lead the change.”

Another major step planned for Trimart this year is the opening of a new flagship store. Ms. Wilcox indicated that plans were well developed with the opening currently anticipated for the third quarter. She was keen to point out that the brand’s three existing stores would also be under scrutiny to find every opportunity to improve the shopping experience for Trimart customers.

Explaining that Trimart were well known for having excellent quality fresh produce and offering good value and great choice, Ms. Wilcox said, however, that re-examination was crucial. “My Virgin DNA has taught me to constantly question and innovate every aspect of the customer experience and brand. In recent years we have not kept abreast of new items that have become common staples of the Barbadian and visitor shopping basket – think pesto or hummus, for example. Ten years ago these were considered exotic items; today they are much more familiar and in demand from a wider cross section of customers.”

To this end, Ms. Wilcox, added that Trimart were already actively reviewing their range and looking to source new products to satisfy their customers’ evolving tastes. “Our focus on consistently providing value will remain, enhanced by an improved range of merchandise.”

Enthusiastic about Tri-Rewards

Wilcox is enthusiastic about developing Trimart’s Loyalty card, the Tri-Rewards programme, saying that the dynamic and creative use of loyalty cards practiced by UK and US retailers has complemented her experience working with Virgin’s Frequent Flyer programme, Flying Club.

“I think we can learn a lot from how other businesses and market segments have taken a dynamic approach to offering value and benefit to their frequent shoppers. The retail scene is fairly competitive in Barbados, but not necessarily very innovative so there is a great opportunity to look at other markets and learn from their successes. I have always been an avid watcher and student of the UK and US retailing scene. In particular I have been impressed by the growth of Aldi and Lidl (both traditionally considered budget brands) in recent years.”

Deep loyalty and commitment of Trimart family

With 150 or so employees in the Trimart family, Ms. Wilcox said she was “especially struck” by the deep loyalty and commitment within the team. “Despite having endured some difficult times in recent years there is an openness to change. That’s very refreshing and encouraging.”

Wilcox described her management style as 'landa' or a cross between a lion and a panda, referring to Harriet Green, recent CEO of Thomas Cook, the leisure travel brand. "Sometimes I am a real lion, I can roar, make things happen. I can change the course through will, energy and just being incredibly determined, assertive and persistent. But I can also be a big panda. If a company or team needs nurturing, you have to be gentler and coax, coach and mentor it to high performance and success!" Ms. Wilcox explained energetically.

Wilcox described her management style as ‘landa‘ or a cross between a lion and a panda, referring to Harriet Green, recent CEO of Thomas Cook, the leisure travel brand. “Sometimes I am a real lion, I can roar, make things happen. I can change the course through will, energy and just being incredibly determined, assertive and persistent. But I can also be a big panda. If a company or team needs nurturing, you have to be gentler and coax, coach and mentor it to high performance and success!” Ms. Wilcox explained energetically.

Ms. Wilcox’ final reflection was on how the role she held after graduation as Operations Supply Manager for one of Marriott’s busy flight catering operations at Gatwick Airport, had brought her back into the supply chain world.

It’s funny; I’m having conversations about warehouse management and procurement that I was having 25 years ago! The difference today is in the quality of the data that’s available to make informed business decisions and to be able to make them so much quicker. I firmly believe that you have to get the buying and the supply chain right in order to get the front of house operation to be successful. Consistency of supply has always been a frustration for the Barbadian shopper. Right now, we’re getting familiar with our new business software and looking forward to offering Barbados consumers even better value, more choice and our signature friendly shopping experience.”

Nicholas Mouttet, CEO of ANSA McAL (Barbados) Ltd., of which Trimart is a part, said that the group was “incredibly excited” to have Ms. Wilcox on board. “Judith is not only a breath of fresh air to the Trimart family but an incredibly creative, driven and results-oriented leader. We’re excited for what the future holds for Trimart and its customers.”

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