If I had to start again... John Clare

Would I love to have been a professional footballer earning a bucket-load of money? Maybe.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But when I look back, I don't see any missed opportunities. Life has dealt me a good hand. I never had a plan - things have simply come along and I've taken them as they've arisen.

I studied applied mathematics at Edinburgh University. When I left there, I joined Mars as a salesman. My parents were furious. They'd supported me through four years of study for me to go off and sell Mars bars. It wasn't easy to understand. But I knew that I didn't want to do anything in academia, or to be a lawyer or a doctor or a teacher. I felt I wanted to go into commerce, even if I didn't know why.

The best advice I ever got was to start out in sales, as working at the sharp end gives you a fundamental understanding of an entire business. Mars offered me £50 a year more than anyone else, so that's where I went.

I joined Dixons in 1985. I'd never worked in retail before, so Stanley Kalms had to teach me a lot. He had joined the company immediately after the war and had learned everything hands-on. Send him into a store and it was amazing what he could spot. But talk about 300 stores and systems and processes and he needed someone who knows more about it. It worked well. He left seven years ago, and since then it has been a case of me putting into place what he taught me.

Stepping down, I'll miss the buzz of the stores and the competitiveness of the market. I get the sales figures wherever I am, even on holiday. But I'm up to my eyeballs in it. This is a young man's game, hugely demanding in terms of intensity and competition, and whatever I do next has to be a little less intensive on time and energy. It'd be nice to have time to see my grandchildren, two of whom are in South Africa, and I think I might renew my old season ticket at Tottenham Hotspur FC.

John Clare stepped down as CEO of DSGi last month.

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