Timing is everything for Bakers & Larners of Holt  

Bakers & Larners is a department store trading in the Georgian market town of Holt in Norfolk. Established over 250 years ago, it’s a family-owned independent business – in fact, the eighth and ninth generations of the Baker family are still on the board today. It’s headed up by Carl Milton, the first non-family Managing Director, who’s supported by Nick Baker, Senior Family Exec Director.  

Bakers & Larners operates within The CT Baker Group which employs over 215 staff across three divisions (Bakers & Larners, four builders’ merchants, and Budgens’ supermarkets in Aylsham and Holt). The business’s core values include putting quality, history and the local community at the heart of their operations, while also growing with the demands of the 21st century. 

The challenge 

Having weathered the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with a new managing director on board, Bakers & Larners decided to take the opportunity to restructure their leadership team. This was to help them deliver new growth objectives and put them in a stronger position to achieve future goals.  

As part of this, they decided that adding a new retail buyer to the team could help them do just that. Kirsty Standley, head of people and culture at Bakers & Larners tells us: ‘We were looking for someone who’d share our vision. They’d need to be brave and confident in the role but be aware that it was very different to your usual buyer role.’  

This brief was actually quite complex. They needed someone with a lot of experience who could lead the department while also driving growth. This person also needed to be brand conscious, have top-notch negotiation skills and, most importantly, be really passionate about retail, while also bringing a fresh perspective. 

But a challenging market, a region still recovering from the pandemic, and job seekers who were reluctant to leave the security of current roles, meant finding the right person was proving difficult. The location was also a challenge. Even though Holt, in the north of Norfolk, is an idyllic part of the country, it doesn’t have a lot of retail buyers. So the company were finding it difficult to recruit someone with the commercial skills and leadership experience they wanted in the local area.  

That’s where Pure came in.  

The solution  

The shortage of candidates in the area meant Pure consultant Emily Colby had to use her in-depth local knowledge and network to find the right person. After spending a lot of time with Kirsty and Carl to really get under the skin of the business, she realised she already had the perfect candidate. Natasha Colk was an experienced buyer who’d been in touch with Pure looking for an opportunity that would let her stop her expensive and time-consuming commute to London from Diss three days a week. She still wanted to share her passion for retail – but just a little closer to home, and with a better work-life balance.  

Emily introduced Natasha to Bakers & Larners, and they connected straight away. Carl was closely involved with the hiring process from start to finish, including staying in contact with Natasha while she worked her three-month notice (something that’s part of Bakers & Larners’ onboarding process). 

How did Pure make a difference? 

Bakers & Larners knew they’d be in safe hands with us – because we’d already found both Carl and Kirsty (their managing director, and head of people and culture) for them. ‘We had first-hand experience of working with Pure, both as clients and jobseekers,’ says Kirsty. ‘We were particularly drawn to their ethos and values, especially the way they respect the individuality of both employees and employers. We knew they’d work hard to really understand the brief and the importance of finding someone who’d be the right cultural fit for the business.’ 

Not long after joining, Natasha was promoted to head of buying. This created an opportunity for a new head of retail – and we’re pleased to say we found the ideal person for this role too. 

Going into 2023, we’re continuing to help Bakers & Larners build a strong and resilient leadership team who’ll achieve their long-term growth goals.  

Can we help you? 

Whatever type of position you’re recruiting for, we can help. Get in touch to find out more. 

 Emily Colby profile picture

Written by

Emily Colby

Emily’s a Senior Consultant who splits her time between our Norwich and Cambridge offices. She started working in recruitment in 2017 at a global recruitment agency specialising in commercial recruitment. She joined Pure in November 2019 in our professional office division, and now specialises in supply chain and engineering.

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