Tim How: If I had to start again ..

I'd go back into retail, unquestionably. My father was the MD of Colman's in Norwich, and from my teenage years I knew I'd work in commerce too.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Working with wine makes everything fun, but it's not why I went into this business. I like the constant buzz of retail - you're only ever as good as yesterday's takings. And I love the customer contact. I couldn't run a widget business.

I studied natural sciences at Cambridge, specialising in metallurgy. I never used it directly, but it did allow me to spend a long vacation on a copper mine in Zambia - which promptly taught me that I didn't want to spend my life on a copper mine in Zambia.

I took a graduate role at Rugby Cement, then moved to a division of Dunlop that made fire-fighting equipment. I was working in a Yorkshire village, a long way from the action. I wanted to learn about customer-facing business, so took an MBA at the London Business School. This bred opportunity. I joined Polaroid, marketing instant cameras. It was a major consumer brand, and very exciting. I then became marketing director at Bejam, moving up to chief executive in 1987. We soon acquired a small wine-warehouse business called Wizard Wine, and when Bejam was taken over by Iceland, I acquired Wizard from Iceland. That's where the journey started. In 1991, we had the chance to acquire Majestic, which was in a lot of debt. I suspect it was arrogance that made us think we could pull it off - everyone said we were mad. But we are on track for our 15th year of record profit.

There's a lot of me in Majestic, but there's also a lot of Majestic in me. It will feel strange not turning up for work here. But in my late fifties I'd like to take some non-exec roles and stretch the concept of the weekend. There's some personal heartache as to whether it's the right decision. A lot of people here have been with me since the beginning. I'll miss them, and the excitement of winning.

- Tim How steps down as CEO of Majestic Wines this year.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Why collaborations fail

Collaboration needn’t be a dirty word.

How redundancies affect culture

There are ways of preventing 'survivor syndrome' derailing your recovery.

What they don't tell you about inclusive leadership

Briefing: Frances Frei was hired to fix Uber’s ‘bro culture’. Here’s her lesson for where...

Should you downsize the office?

Many businesses are preparing for a 'hybrid' workplace.

How to make your team more accountable

‘Do as I do’ works a lot better than ‘do as I say’.

Black talent isn’t hard to find: It’s just you

If you want to attract the widest range of applicants, you need to think about...