“At Specsavers, it’s okay to be different”

01/06 2022 - Stores

“At Specsavers, it’s okay to be different”

Mohammed Haddad has run the store in Ängelholm, a city in the south of Sweden, as a retail partner since 2019. The store is located in the town centre and has recently invested in a new fresh interior in line with Specsavers’ new Scandinavian store interior concept. Stylish white walls, wooden floors, new lighting and bright colours. At the end of 2021, Mohammed also had the opportunity to take over a store in Helsingborg, close to Ängelholm, and at the same time an optical partner came in for the two stores.

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Specsavers CEO in Sweden, Marita, came to talk to me

Mohammed started his career at Specsavers in 2012 in Denmark. He had just finished the Partner in Development programme when he was offered to become a partner in a store in a shopping centre just outside Copenhagen. After a couple of years, Mohammed sold the store and instead took over another Specsavers store in the city centre of Copenhagen. The store went well, but he felt it was time to move on after three years.

It didn’t take long before Specsavers contacted Mohammed again. He was asked if he wanted to help out with a store in Burlöv, just north of Malmö in Sweden. It was a shorter assignment of a few months, as the store needed support.

“Then something really exciting happened that became quite crucial,” says Mohammed. “Specsavers CEO in Sweden, Marita Bertilsson, came down to talk to me. She asked me, ‘What do you want to do, Mohammed?’ I really appreciated that she took her time and came down to talk to me. Marita asked me if I wanted to be a partner again. I thought about it for a while, and after the summer, I decided that I wanted to invest in becoming a partner and owning a store again. After a short while, the retail team got in touch with me and said, ‘Mohammed, now we have a store for you in Ängelholm.’”

Mohammed hadn’t heard of Ängelholm and had no idea where it was. It turned out that it was a few miles north of Helsingborg, so he went there, looked around, and thought, ‘well, this looks nice’. “And that was that; I was in again,” says Mohammed with a smile.

“I get support and can focus on what I’m best at”

“I appreciate that I have freedom and can operate within Specsavers’ well-established concept. At the same time, I get help from the team at the support office, who are there and support me in my everyday life and my development as a partner. I trust that they know their stuff, and I focus on what I am best at. I think that’s what it takes to succeed.”

“Specsavers wants to achieve the same things I want – we have the same goal. If I do my job right and fulfil what’s expected of me, I will also get attention and appreciation. And that’s pretty important, actually. I also appreciate that the retail support team comes and visits us, listens, and sees how everything works with their own eyes. They ask you if you need support in any area. Sometimes you can have different opinions about something, but it’s important to have a dialogue and come up with a good solution together. As a retail partner, I feel that there is room for development at Specsavers and that it’s okay to be different and sometimes have different opinions.”

“I keep my finger on the pulse all the time”

“I think I’m organised, but at the same time, I’m very flexible. My workday can start with one thing and end with something completely different. It varies a lot. I think it’s important to always help out if reinforcement is needed somewhere, especially out on the shop floor. I think it’s a strength that I’m involved and often work together with the store team. We talk about everything between heaven and earth, especially the job. I keep a finger on the pulse all the time. I’m there for them as they are there for me. We work really well as a team.”

“It’s important to help your colleagues to develop”

“If you don’t help others develop, you will not develop either. It’s about giving and taking,” says Mohammed with a smile. “If you want to have a good team working with you, you must also let them develop. It’s important for all employees to feel that they have a meaningful everyday life. We work a lot with development and education. For example, it can mean taking different courses or receiving different areas of responsibility. Not everyone is driven by development, but most people probably want to go in some direction. Of course, there should also be room for those who are just happy in their job and don’t have the ambition to grow. But I also think that as a team leader, you can try to push your colleagues a little bit in a good way. If they agree, it may be okay to push them a notch outside their comfort zone.”

“You get a little closer to people and their needs”

“As a leader, I have probably ‘“softened’ a bit over the years. To some extent, that’s because of the optical industry. I used to work in the telecom industry, which is completely different. In the optical industry, you get a little closer to people and their needs. And it’s, after all, an industry with a majority of women. It’s not possible to act in the same way as when you work in, for example, telecommunication. There are a lot of men in that industry, and the jargon is different. So, it’s important to be able to adapt.”

“Everyone should be seen and heard”

“I often hear from my colleagues that I’m good at giving people a chance and supporting the team when needed. I think it’s important to help my team to reach their goals. Everyone should be seen and heard. I consider the team as my colleagues and not as someone who works for me – but with me. It’s a big difference. You often spend more time at your workplace than with your family. So it has to work, and everyone has to enjoy going to their job in the morning, of course.”

What inspires you?

“I would say that it’s a philosophy of life: I find it important to always be able to give. You should of course be open to getting help, but I think it’s more fun to help others than to get help yourself. I always try to stick to that. I also believe that if you do a good job, you should get appreciation and reward for it. Everyone needs a pat on the back sometimes.”

Want to know more about what it’s like to be a retail partner at Specsavers in Sweden? Read about the opportunities we offer and find out if there are any vacancies in our Swedish stores that may suit you.

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