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One of my favourite grocery stores in Geneva is Manor Food.  There are two Manor Food locations in the Geneva area, one on Rue Cornavin in Geneva and the other in Vesenaz.

This month I had the great pleasure of interviewing the HR Director, Magdalena Boos and Jean-Louis Bornet, Assistant Director of Manor Geneva.
We talked about Manor, the brand, the present, the future and so much more…


Sunita Sehmi: How has your business changed in the last 10 years?

Magdalena Boos & Jean-Louis Bornet: Competition is fierce and the profile of the sales staff has changed considerably as a result. If you work in the technical department you have to know your product inside out, for example what’s trending on the market what’s happening with the product etc.

The same goes for the perfumery department you now need to be an expert in your field, that’s what is very important and that’s what our customers want. The most important thing for Manor is the customer and that is why Manor is a central player in the retail market. “When it comes to the retail business the cake is the same size as before but now it’s just sliced in a different way.”

SS: Describe a difficult challenge for Manor and how you got over it?

Manor: The economic crisis and market competition hit all the retailers but innovation helped us to survive where others failed. This has contributed to our success and the company’s stability. We recognised that our staff needed specific training with clients and that the “conseil humain” was becoming incredibly important. Our training programs are exclusively adapted to customers, focusing only on the customer, their mind-set and attitude.

We understand that our clients have changed, demands have changed, competition has changed and therefore customer loyalty has become very important and that is something that must never to be taken for granted.

SS: With many more women now working full time, how have you made life easier for them?

Manor: We introduced the “personal shopper service.” We have several personal shoppers working for us at Manor at present, they speak a variety of languages French, German, English, Italian, Spanish and Russian. They are here to give women advice on sizes, styles and re-looking. Women have inspired us to rethink our services. We understand and appreciate that they need something quick and easy.

SS: There has been a lot of talk about work-life balance and the importance of equilibrium both at home and at work. In your opinion what is Burnout?

Manor: There has been a lot of evidence that people are not able to separate their private and personal lives. They often feel they are overloaded with work and everything becomes too much. Any company has to look at how they can alleviate some pressure and responsibility. As responsible employers we need to be there before employees drown… Our aim is to always try and solve any concerns together.

SS: Could you share some of your strategies that we could use to keep more balanced?

Manor: We have introduced Manora Care as part of our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). We employed the services of a theatre company to give an interactive, humoristic view about stress in the workplace. This went down very well with the staff and got lots of people talking about how to manage stress at work. Plus we have a new collaboration with PMSE (Prévention et Maintien de la Santé en Entreprise). They give us feedback about what we are doing right and what we need to do with regards to ergonomic and nutritional issues…

On a more personal level we believe communication is the key. Talking things through is fundamental….people need to be heard, we always need to try and make our employees’ lives better, ultimately that is what managers and HR are here for.

SS: All the literature tells us to communicate with more compassion and more empathy but does Manor ensure that practice in the work place?

Manor: We set up an in-house ambassador system at Manor. The ambassadors are members of our staff who make sure that both our values and our standards are upheld. They ensure that all our staff respect our company’s corporate values. We have found that formal training is not as effective as internal, on the job coaching/training.

This is a type of training/coaching program has proved to be golden and is really useful for our employees.

SS: In your opinion how would you define future Manor managers?

Manor: Future managers need to have a strong grip with numbers, he/she will need to be aware of the brand that is Manor and all that it entails. They need to be like a “chef d’orchestre” guiding, encouraging and inspiring the team. But at the same time they need to get their hands dirty and “muck in” with everyone else.

SS: What's next for Manor?

Manor: Well you may have noticed that we now sell Waitrose products from the UK. This has been hugely successful. We hope that Manor continues these fruitful collaborations with external partners in contributing to a better service for our customers. Social media is another area where we are developing, especially amongst the younger generation. This is a really powerful sharing tool and one we use frequently. At Manor we do not underestimate the power of social media and the comments from our customers. We are always here to listen and to improve.

“The Director has to be an example and the coach for his staff.”
Jean-Louis Bornet Deputy Director

Manor Local and Bio
The Swiss department store chain, Manor, sells products from local suppliers, which produce or process their products within a defined radius from the individual stores. Manor’s “local concept” is regularly checked on-site and certified annually. With this brand, Manor supports regional added value and allows consumers to purchase local products in a supermarket.

Manor: www.manor.ch
PMSE (Prévention et Maintien de la Santé en Entreprise): www.pmse.ch


sunita blogphoto 150

Sunita has a passion for helping individuals, teams and companies to maximize their potential. With over 20 years experience both in the UK & Switzerland, she created Walk The Talk, with the sole aim, to help professionals improve their Business Communication Skills. She is of Indian origin but was born and raised in Britain before she moved to Geneva in 1991. She has a Psychology background, (specializing in Occupational Psychology) and a Post Graduate in the Development and Training of Adults from the University of Surrey. Furthermore, she recently completed a Masters of Advanced Studies in "Gestion des RH et des Carrières," (Specialising in Career Management and Coaching), at the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchatel & Fribourg. 

Having successfully worked and operated in different cultures and languages, Sunita's strength lies in her ability to totally empathize with her clients and help them to perform their best.