An ex-Coleg Llandrillo student who is now one of the most powerful people in retail, returned to his place of learning to give a masterclass to current Business, Law and Finance students.

Darren Sinclair, Zone Managing Director, Central region, for Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd., is in charge of over 55,000 staff in over 500 stores! Ironically, he worked part-time at Asda whilst studying for a National Diploma in Business at the college in the late 1980s.

He dropped into the college's Rhos-on-Sea campus to give an overview of his company's business module and to give the Business students advice and guidance on how to succeed in the burgeoning retail sector.

Students were eager to ask Darren about a wide range of topics: how to become successful in business, Sainsbury's takeover of Argos, the proposed merger with Asda, Brexit, the reduction in plastic packaging, the minimum wage, the importance of qualifications, and the key elements that an employer is looking for from a potential employee. He also offered students the chance to take up the offer of work experience placements within the company.

Darren, who has also held managerial posts with Iceland Foods and NatWest Bank, discussed his background, both personal and career-wise, with the students, including the elements and milestones which he felt had enabled him to be successful in business.

Alicia Foulkes and Ellie Cassidy, both from Rhyl, asked

what did you do after you completed your college course and how did you achieve your current position?

Darren replied:

I worked in Asda as a trainee manager, leaving home at 19. You need luck, opportunities and hard work.


Jac Stoddard from Conwy delved into the environmental debate, asking,

does Sainsbury's intend on decreasing its use of plastic packaging? If so how much do you intend on decreasing it by and by when?

It has already been reduced by 35% and the target is 50% by 2020,

replied Darren.

When asked by Sub Sohail from Rhyl about the implementation of new advances in technology in the future, Darren said:

Personalisation is the key. We are investigating a system where mobile phones would beep as customers pass something on the shop floor that they have bought before, then a promotion would be sent to them.

Closing proceedings, Darren said:

It was a delight to speak with the young students; the questions were very thought-provoking and well researched. They had a voracious appetite for knowledge that will stand them in good stead for the future. If there is anything I can do to support them, I will.

It was also nice to return to the college where it all began. I loved my course and the overall experience, even though, unbelievably, it was 30 years ago.

Business tutor Conor Merrick said:

It was an excellent opportunity for our students to engage with an ex-student who has succeeded at the highest level. We can't thank Darren enough for taking time out from his extraordinarily busy schedule to speak to our students.

Student James Lennox from Deganwy said:

I thought that it was an absolutely brilliant event. It was so useful to get advice on business and the retail industry from someone who has excelled…and an ex-Llandrillo Business student too!

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