Darcy Willson-Rymer: All CEOs should be on Twitter

You Live & You Learn: The CEO of Costcutter on moving from Starbucks to Clinton Cards, and why CEOs should tweet.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 22 Sep 2014

I found out I was dyslexic very late in life. It helped me put a few demons to bed. I'd never quite understood why I'd do things one way and someone else would do things another. I thought, is this a problem of intelligence? I just assumed nobody had found me out.

Convenience retail is the new black. The major supermarkets have run out of space. In order to continue with their business model, they have no choice but to ditch the hypermarkets for smaller spaces, so it's an exciting place to be.

The way we shop is changing. If you go back 25 years, my grandparents were worried about how much food they could afford, whereas my kids are worried about how much data they can afford on their mobile phones.

I loved working for Starbucks. At its heart, it has very good ethics and values. Anything that gets to a certain size is criticised. It's the world's largest coffee shop, with 20 thousand-odd stores. But if people take the time to learn and understand, they'll be pleasantly surprised.

I went into Clinton Cards as CEO knowing it would be a big challenge, but I was ready. It had three issues: it was over-rented by £20m, the stores hadn't had any investment and it had the most inefficient supply chain I've ever seen.

Since I left Clintons I haven't spent time either looking at it or thinking about it. But I've learned that the answer to most business issues lies in the consumer and your employees. If you know how to get that information, you're fine.

The debate over whether CEOs should be on Twitter is nonsense: of course they should. For me, the job of a CEO is to know what's going on in your company and in the wider market. Social media has brought that much closer. I can have conversations with a customer or a colleague at any time, any day.

When I'm at home, I've got only three functions: chef, chauffeur and banker. I attend to them to the best of my abilities. The principle for me is that when I'm away, I can work as hard as I like; when I'm home, I'm home. I don't check my emails every five minutes.

My wife and I have lived in the same house in Bracknell for the past twentysomething years. We moved in when we got married. We're quite happy there - we've never had a reason to move.

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