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HOT 100 RETAIL TITANS: Jennifer Manning, Drakes

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When the hoarding came down from the front of the new Drakes flagship store in Plymouth, it was an emotional moment for Jennifer Manning, who had stayed up late with colleagues to get a first glimpse of the store.

“It seemed like such a long time coming,” says Manning. “The finished article was even better than we had dared hope and it truly brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. This whole project was probably the hardest, but most worthwhile thing I have ever been involved in.”

The 83ft glass frontage that Manning had been so desperate to glimpse is a gateway to a spectacular retail space that has been winning praise from shoppers and the press alike, and has given the Drakes team a boost of confidence.

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“This project showed us just what can be achieved with a strong, dedicated team,” says Manning, who likes to spend her free time roaming the beaches near where she lives with her canine companion. “Yes, there were tough times but hard work always pays off in the end. I guess this project has given us more confidence to continue to make bold and brave decisions.”

Such decisions include continuing to bolster its staff training programmes and also open an in-house workshop, which Manning believes will improve the level of service that Drakes can offer its customers. She also hints that the success of the Plymouth flagship and the business’s rebrand could well lead to more Drakes stores popping up in the Southwest.

“As I achieve more year-on-year with Drakes, my passion and dedication to the role only grows,” she says. “I believe passion is infectious so I can only hope that this will inspire others in our team. We are so lucky to have a team that really love what they do and this can only help to drive our future success.”

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