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[Interview] A day in the life… Paul Mansell, Head of Property. The Perfume Shop

Meet Paul, the Head of Property at The Perfume Shop, who orchestrates the brand’s expansive property portfolio. In this interview, Paul shares insights into his daily… View Article


[Interview] A day in the life… Paul Mansell, Head of Property. The Perfume Shop

Meet Paul, the Head of Property at The Perfume Shop, who orchestrates the brand’s expansive property portfolio.

In this interview, Paul shares insights into his daily operations, from strategic oversight to championing sustainability, revealing the depth of commitment behind the retail scenes. His journey from a part-time role to a pivotal leadership position highlights the vibrant opportunities in retail, offering a fresh perspective on the industry’s impact and potential. 

What does a typical day look like for you at The Perfume Shop?

As the Head of Property, my primary responsibility is to manage and advance the property portfolio for The Perfume Shop, which includes 209 stores including concessions. My role involves overseeing capital projects, facilities management, and strategic property planning, ensuring each location reflects our brand ethos and meets our operational standards.

Beyond property management, I lead a team of professionals and participate in several key committees which allows me to collaborate across different facets of our organisation. My day-to-day activities are diverse, including strategic planning sessions for new locations or refurbishments, direct leadership and support for my team, and committee meetings where we align our property strategies with the broader company objectives.

This variety necessitates frequent context switching, from high-level strategic thinking to detailed operational oversight, all aimed at ensuring our store environments are optimised to support business goals and importantly, enhance the customer experience. My involvement in these committees is crucial as it enables a holistic approach to decision-making and implementation of our property initiatives.


How did you progress from a Saturday retail job to your current role as Head of Property?

My path in retail was completely unplanned and yet it has been profoundly rewarding. Starting with a humble Saturday job, my career began without a clear direction—I simply wanted to work and earn some money. I quickly found a passion for the retail environment and its community. The vibrant atmosphere and camaraderie among colleagues fostered a deep sense of belonging and ignited my ambition to grow within the sector.

Over the years, I seized various opportunities to learn and take on more responsibilities, transitioning from working on the shop floor to more strategic, focused positions. Each step, from managing a single store to overseeing a portfolio of 209, was guided by a commitment to making tangible improvements and exploring the impact of well-managed retail spaces on overall business success.

The journey wasn’t just professional; it was personal and enriched by enduring friendships. I’ve shared beers, attended weddings, and celebrated milestones with former colleagues from The Coop, sustaining a connection that transcends our work. These relationships and the shared experiences have been a pivotal part of my career trajectory, leading me to my current position at The Perfume Shop. Here, I draw on all those experiences to lead our property strategy, ensuring our physical spaces positively influence our brand and customer experience. The fact that I’m still close with my Coop colleagues, sharing life events and support, underscores the special bond we’ve formed through our shared retail journeys.


Given TPS’s focus on sustainability, could you share how these initiatives are being implemented company-wide?

Yes, sustainability is totally baked-in to our business and structured around what we call our three pillars of social purpose: our products, our people, and the planet, which I am responsible for leading. Our commitment to the planet is about being proactive and responsible, we’re determined to address and solve some big challenges. There has been a positive shift; the journey toward sustainability has become increasingly feasible, with the costs of recyclable materials and alternatives now much more accessible than they were in the past, shifting from aspirational to achievable.

And 99% of our stores now use renewable energy sources. The remaining percentage is due to certain limitations with landlords’ provisions, but it highlights our near-total commitment to renewable energy. Our approach extends beyond the retail spaces to our warehouse and office environments, underscoring the comprehensive nature of our commitment. For instance, we are currently upgrading our distribution centre to enhance efficiency and reduce waste, ensuring our operations support our sustainability goals fully. This includes optimizing our inventory to ensure product availability, facilitating click-and-collect services, and ensuring that our logistical operations are environmentally conscious.

By example, 100% of our lighting is LED across all stores, our warehouse, and headquarters, reflecting our commitment to energy efficiency. In our stores, we use recycled materials for our fixtures like fridges, which, although they look conventional, are part of our broader strategy to reduce our environmental footprint. These choices are deliberate, aimed at integrating sustainability seamlessly into our customer experience without drawing unnecessary attention.

This concerted effort across all parts of our business—from retail spaces to support networks—demonstrates our holistic commitment to sustainability and our determination to work smarter, not just harder, for the environment.


Can you describe the challenges faced and the dynamics when opening a new store or refurbishing an existing one?

Opening or refurbishing a store at The Perfume Shop is an enormous undertaking—a monumental team effort full of unpredictable challenges that test our resilience and adaptability. These projects demand considerable effort, often involving a series of complications, from logistical snags to last-minute design tweaks, necessitating extended hours and nationwide coordination.

What truly makes these projects successful is our collaborative spirit. Whether we’re troubleshooting an unexpected delivery van complication on the M6 or responding to eleventh-hour alterations, the agility and unity of our team are vital. It’s this collective effort to confront and deal with obstacles that builds an incredible sense of achievement and unity, emblematic of our property team’s grit and commitment. And this just wouldn’t be feasible without the expertise and support from our external contractors and partners across the wider business.

What do you find most challenging in your role?

The rapid context switching is both exhilarating and demanding, acting as a double-edged sword in my role. It’s what makes my work deeply rewarding yet challenging. This diversity keeps our tasks engaging and dynamic, yet it’s the robust support and collaboration from our team, as well as our contractors and business partners, that truly make it manageable and rewarding. Our shared commitment to our goals and each other is so important, and the incredible support we receive across the business amplifies our success and drives us forward.

After such intense and varied days, how do you and your team unwind?

Decompressing is crucial for us, not just to relax but also to reinforce our team spirit. One unique way we come together is through our charity work, which offers us a meaningful break from our daily routines.

We’ve rallied together for some incredible causes, like skydiving for Alzheimer’s Research UK, lending a hand at One Can, our local food bank, maintaining the gardens at Keech Hospice, and powering through 100 burpees each day in December for Look Good Feel Better! These activities aren’t just rewarding; they’re a way for us to connect on a different level, share some laughs, and make a positive impact.

It’s this blend of giving back and teamwork that truly defines our downtime. By stepping out of our usual roles and working together for the greater good, we build stronger connections and come back to work re-energized, knowing we’ve accomplished something meaningful together.

What message would you like to convey to those considering or underestimating retail as a career path?

Retail is not just rewarding, it’s underestimated … it offers endless possibilities, where passion and perseverance can lead to real satisfaction and success. It’s a career that rewards initiative, values people, and offers diverse opportunities for growth and impact. My journey reflects this, and I encourage others to see retail not just as a job but as a pathway to fulfilling their potential.

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