There are endless nautical puns you could use to describe the success of Harding Retail, the watch retailer best known for its partnerships with the world’s top cruise brands, but we’ll just stop at saying there’s no chance of this business dropping anchor anytime soon.
Instead it remains full steam ahead for the company as it looks to build on a retail portfolio that incorporates more than 250 shops on 62 cruise ships. With offices in Bristol, Miami and Sydney, this is a worldwide business in every sense of the world and one that embodies all that is exciting in the world of international travel and leisure. At the very heart of this operation is deputy buying director, Michael Holmes, who has been a key part of the growth during the past 12 months.
Working with the management team to land a major contract with Carnival Cruises for 10 ships was a huge milestone, while a deal with Viking Cruises, and the completion of a major refurbishment on the Queen Mary 2, rank high on the list of achievements.
Michael admits he is very focused when it comes to powering the business forward. “My energy and total commitment to my role and my responsibilities always drives me forward,” he says, adding with a smile: “I can appear to be a grumpy old man sometimes but that is only because I set myself high standards and want to get things done.”
His task for the rest of 2016 and beyond is to work with the team to build the business further and sign contracts with more ships. But he also considers it a priority to pass on his wisdom to some of his colleagues who are at a much earlier stage in their careers. “My personal objective is to continue to support and develop our younger team members, providing detailed coaching, advice, support and guidance because I would not be where I am today if my previous managers had not supported me,” he says.