Name: Chris Manson
Age: 47
Job: Founder, Blott, Oxford
Contact: 01892 538597
Time in job: Three years

What was your first job and what did your responsibilities include?
Working on an oil-rig in the North Sea as a cleaner.

How much was in your first pay packet and what did you spend it on?
I cannot remember the amount now as it was so long ago, but I spent it on clothes.

Describe how you career developed to the present day.
After the oil-rig I read Modern History at Oxford University before qualifying as a chartered accountant with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I worked for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group looking after the finances of his overseas shows and then moved to Chelsea Football Club, where I ran all the commercial operations from 1996-1999. In 2001 I started a new TV shopping channel business and sold that in 2006. From 2006-2011 I took a sabbatical in Portugal with my young family. We moved back to the UK in 2011, choosing Oxford as the best place to live.

What are the key responsibilities in your position?
Driving the business forward and putting the right staff and structures in place.

Describe a typical day.
I am normally out visiting one of our 13 shops followed by checking in at our headquarters in Park Royal. The last shop closes at 10pm.

Who/what have been the biggest influences on your career?
Ken Bates at Chelsea taught me to Keep It Simple.

What has been your best decision?
Hopefully opening a new shop in Oxford will prove to be one of my best decisions!

And your worst?
Investing in a luxury jewellery business just a couple of weeks before the financial crash.

Do you run an apprenticeship scheme and, if so, why?
We don’t yet but it is something we are thinking hard about.

What is the secret of good management?
Treating people fairly.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
I think so, but my wife might say I have an unhealthy obsession with work.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business today?
We have great products that our customers really love. The challenge for all retail businesses is to keep finding new products.

Is there anything in business that really irritates you?
Business rates are an unfair tax on small retailers and we receive no help at all from local councils in return.

How do you see your company developing over the next five years?
We plan to continue our steady growth and spread to more and more towns and cities across the UK.

What has been your most satisfying moment?
Seeing groups of young customers come into our shops and hearing them squeal with excitement at our products.

How much do you use social media and how effective is it?
Social media is run internally through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Because our target market is fairly young it is a great way not only to let them know about new product and offers, but also to forge a two-way relationship with them. They often let us know what they have bought and how their eraser collections are coming on! They also let us know if we are going wrong which can only help us get better.

What is your attitude to the environment and do you have any green policies in place?
As a start-up business it is quite tough to put in place all the things we would like to. Recycled carrier bags, for example, are hugely expensive. We are, though, about to launch a Best of British range which will be produced in the UK, something which sadly doesn’t happen enough. We are also working towards all of our own brand cards being Forest Stewardship Council approved.

What do you do to motivate your workforce?
We pay well and use bonuses as a powerful sales incentive. But also saying please and thank you to staff helps too.

Is there any other job you would like to have done and why?
I would love to have been a teacher but lack the necessary patience.

What would you like to do when you retire?
It is a long way off!