People are well and truly at the heart of Jarrolds, the Norwich institution which won the Outstanding Achievement award, sponsored by Barclays Corporate Banking, at the EDP Business Awards 2023.

The company finds itself in good shape almost four years to the day since Covid forced it to close the doors of its flagship department store in Norwich, as well as other retail stores across Norfolk.

With a growing business portfolio that also encompasses property, training, facilities management, warehousing and logistics, Jarrolds was able to weather the storm – with turnover returning to pre-pandemic levels last year.

But there’s no doubting the secret behind the firm’s success.

“This business is about the people who work here,” said Laura London, director of people and culture at Jarrolds. “We survived because they want this business to succeed, they're proud to be in this business, and they understand what we're all about.”

Laura has been with Jarrolds for more than 20 years, assuming her current job title in April 2023.

“We deliberately removed the words ‘human resources’ last year,” she said. “The team is now trying to steer more into the cultural aspect of our role – moving towards engagement, productivity and performance.

“We believe our customer service is unrivalled, and we want to replicate that in how a colleague feels when they work here.”

Another small – but important – change was made when Jarrolds revisited its company values as part of a recent rebrand.

“One of those values was ‘family’, but we've now changed that to ‘One Jarrold’ – because family can mean different things to different people,” Laura explained.

“We want to ensure that whether you work in Jarrolds Retail, Jarrold Training, Jarrold Property or Jarrold Facilities Management, you have the same great experience of working here.

“That experience is about being ‘one Jarrold together’ and communicating what's happening across the whole business.”

Eastern Daily Press: Laura London, director of people and culture at JarroldsLaura London, director of people and culture at Jarrolds (Image: Jarrolds)
This feeling of togetherness is cited by other Jarrolds employees.

“I love my colleagues here at Jarrolds – we all work so well together,” said Lauren Eves, junior buyer for Jarrolds Retail. “We are also very forward-thinking and react quickly to the changes in the market.”

“It’s a great environment,” added Leigh-Anne Horn, training coordinator at Jarrold Training. “There’s a real community feel – it's very collaborative and we work with great clients.”

Jarrolds checks in regularly with its people through the Best Employers Eastern Region survey and regular pulse surveys.

“Surveys are brilliant to get a measure of where you are at that moment in time, but there's nothing better than talking to people,” she added. “Our business is great because it's small and close enough geographically that the people and culture team can actually just go and talk to people.

“You never get a better gauge than catching someone on the hop and saying, ‘How are you doing?’”

The company acted on feedback from last year’s Best Employers survey – which included extending certain colleague benefits to every employee who has been with Jarrolds for more than two years.

Jarrolds is also engaging employees with an internal equivalent of its Growth Fund, which provides financial support and expertise to other Norfolk businesses.

“There’s so much innovation and creative thinking within the business that we want to unlock,” said Laura. “It will be lovely to see some of that come to fruition – and to give it the funding it deserves.”

Looking after colleagues has translated to a brand that is also loved by customers, Laura added.

“When I say ‘Jarrolds’ to someone, the response is always, ‘I love that place’, so it makes you feel really proud to work here.”

Katy Michael, personal stylist for Jarrolds Retail, added: “I love the fact that I help people – and that they go away feeling happy.”

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