From Aspiring Guitarist to Specsavers Leader of the Year

08/04 2024 - Stores

From Aspiring Guitarist to Specsavers Leader of the Year

Retail partner Christer Folke Westlund from Kongsvinger has been named Leader of the Year at Specsavers twice, the last time in 2023. Read his story here.

Christer Folke Westlund from Kongsvinger has been named Leader of the Year in Specsavers twice. First in 2015 and then again in 2023. It was a coincidence that led him from music to optics in 1997. But since then, systematic and consistent work towards clear goals has led Christer from store employee to manager and on to retail store owner of the Kongsvinger store. Kongsvinger is a small town 90 km northeast of Oslo.

Considering the demands of the management field, it's worth exploring Christer's educational background and the origins of his skills. Christer humorously shares, “I actually began my studies at the Academy of Commerce, but I must admit I spent more time with my guitar than in the study hall, so my educational pursuits didn't quite pan out.” With a grin, he shows that he doesn't take himself too seriously. Describing him as jovial and down-to-earth is more fitting. It's unclear whether his upbringing in Kongsvinger or his experience as a guitarist in various bands contributed to this character. Perhaps it's a combination of both.

Played with Øystein Sunde

“I have played with a whole bunch of Norwegian artists,” says Christer. “The most famous one I played with was Øystein Sunde. He plays the guitar himself, so I played the mandolin. It was a fun time with lots of colourful personalities. The optician industry is much straighter.”

These days, Christer has put aside his guitar. As a musician, it's difficult to balance family life and managing a shop with eight employees. Instead, he enjoys repairing his old Fiat 500 and spending time in his greenhouse.

So, what is the secret?

Returning to the leadership role and the Leader of the Year titles. What are specific strategies Christer employs to thrive as a leader? Christer simplifies it with “A positive work environment, fostering personal development, effective delegation of responsibilities, and a well-structured bonus system.” This, he says, is his straightforward recipe for success.

Christer takes pride in his accomplishments since assuming the role of CEO in 2002. They've consistently achieved annual growth in turnover and maintained strong profitability each year. Additionally, they've maintained low sick leave rates and a stable workforce with minimal turnover.

This year, they've increased revenue by 1.3 million, even in a market that hasn't grown. This suggests an expansion of their market share. Christer firmly believes that a well-structured bonus scheme and daily monitoring of turnover about the budget are pivotal factors contributing to their success.“With us, everyone knows where we are, where we are going, and how to get there,” he adds.

Global chain, local business

Christer shares, "We review the previous day's financial figures every morning. While we're part of a nearly global chain, our primary identity is that of a local store serving a small community. We must understand our local market and its potential for our business. We closely monitor daily numbers to discern the connection between our activities and sales performance. While Specsavers' Support Office provides valuable assistance, our strength lies in our on-site presence and deep understanding of the local dynamics, a vital asset."

Stimulating environment

Christer has been part of Specsavers since the chain's establishment in Norway in 2005. He recalls, “Initially, we were daunted by the sales targets set by the chain management. However, we soon realized these targets were achievable thanks to Specsavers' competitive prices and offers. It has been a challenging journey, but we've thrived in a highly motivating environment, fostering collaboration between store owners, the Support Office, and colleagues from across the country.”

Want to know more about what it's like to work at Specsavers? Read more stories here or view our open positions here.

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