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2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Alice Warner (Q&A)


Store level star

Alice Warner
Store Manager
New Westminster, B.C. Safeway

How did you get into the grocery business?
I’ve been working in restaurant/grocery my whole working life, even though I was going to school to pursue a career in criminology. I transitioned from restaurant to grocery retail in the early 90s. I started my career at Safeway in 1994 as a deli clerk. I worked various roles in deli, meat and seafood until early 2009 when I applied and was selected to participate in a six-month internal company training program to become a store manager. I graduated from that program and became an assistant store manager in late 2009. I became an acting store manager in 2013 and full store manager in 2016. Over the course of my career (1994 to 2020) I have worked at nearly 30 Safeway locations in the Vancouver operating area!

Proudest moment?
My proudest moments, of course, were having and raising my kids (Nicklaus, 29, and Sabrina, 24) with my husband Ray. We just celebrated our 30th anniversary.

What's your best quality as a manager?
My best quality as a manager is my ability to give my teammates what they need to manage the needs of the business but also to manage their lives. I’m very intuitive, so I use that gift to reach people in their time of need and to manage my team and the store. I love building relationships and making a positive difference with both my customers and my teammates.

Career highlight/greatest achievements?
On March 8, 2020, International Women’s Day, I received a Female Store Operator Award from my company, Sobeys. I felt very honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious award. It’s awesome to see females in our industry take on leadership roles and it has been very rewarding for me to mentor females and be mentored by females in this incredible business.

A career high was opening a brand-new concept Safeway Store at the Plaza in New Westminster Station in 2011. At the time it was considered to be a “one-of-a-kind store” in North America as it literally was built underneath rapid transit, the Expo Line sky train. Passengers heading home from work or going to work could get off the sky train and walk into the store, buy their breakfast or dinner and head back to work or home on the sky train. It was pretty cool to be a part of this great innovative project and to be selected to present this concept store with a management team who were top in the field.

My proudest moment, though, is for sure becoming a store manager. How cool is it that I came up through the ranks as a deli clerk, seafood manager and then became a store manager? I currently manage the McBride location in New Westminster, B.C. and I love this store. I love the diverse community, the people, the location and my teammates.

Best advice you've ever received?
Listen, listen, and listen. I am not quite there yet in the listening department, but I am way more successful in life and career when I do more listening than talking.

What do you like most about your job?
I love the people part of the business … building long-lasting relationships with my team and my customers. I am sales driven, and strive to be creative and innovative within the four walls of my store. It’s critical to stay one step ahead of the game, keep things fresh, relevant, and to push back on complacency and mediocrity. I want my customers to walk into my store and have an awesome experience, whether it’s shopping for Christmas dinner or picking up some fresh local berries on a hot summer day. I really want my teammates to want to be at work. Grocery retail is hard, challenging work so it’s important for me to make the work place an inviting place to be.

Anything else you'd like to add?
It’s important that in these challenging times we stay focused on our mental and physical wellbeing. The pandemic has made me more compassionate and empathetic for those living in our communities that rely on our grocery teams for their daily connections and sustenance. I recognize how fragile we all are and the utter importance of putting people first.

Click here for the full list of 2020 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

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