Fireside chat with Chris Walton

Say hello to Chris Walton, our head of procurement, who looks after our suppliers to keep the production cogs turning. He's been here for over 3 years and is an integral part of the Victory family - let's find out more...


How did you end up in the leisure home industry?


In 2006, which seems like a lifetime ago, I’d finished a Business Management degree at Sheffield Hallam University, and I applied for a graduate scheme at another manufacturer. Luckily for me, I was hired and started my journey in this cracking industry.


 What brought you to Victory?


I worked in the leisure home industry for ten years and then moved into another industry for a few years. Then in early 2019 I received a call from Gary Corlyon, and he told me about his ambitious plans to transform Victory. The role of Purchasing Manager was completely new to Victory and was created to manage the growing supply chain, the supplier base and build good solid relationships with our fantastic and diverse suppliers.


The most exciting thing about coming to Victory was being able to completely redevelop the product range both from a commercial and operational aspect. I didn’t actually want to leave the industry in the first place, so coming back to the leisure home industry, and especially to Victory, was really exciting.


It’s mind-blowing to see how far we’ve come over the last few years, and knowing I’ve been a part of it is something I’m really proud of.


How did the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recent global events, affect your department and how have you handled it?


I think for a lot of industries, it’s been extremely challenging to say the least. I’ve spoken to people who have been within supply chain management for a lot longer than I have and have said they’ve never seen anything like it.


I believe this has been the most challenging time that me and my team may ever work through. But it brought about its own rewards and opportunities. We’re challenging the way we’ve done things historically, deepening our relationships with suppliers, reviewing the materials we’re using and, understandably, considering the rising cost of goods.


Although Victory, by definition, is a very innovative company, the pandemic has accelerated the rate in which we’ve implemented new innovations. Some of the relationships we have with some of our suppliers wouldn’t have come about if it weren’t for the pandemic too.


Looking further afield, due to the cost of freight and the weakening of the pound, it’s given us the opportunity to consider more local suppliers. This has also brought about benefits such as reducing lead times and risk, ensures continuity of supply and best of all, reduces our carbon footprint.


But most of all, my team has been fantastic through what has been such a difficult time and have become resilient to some of the challenges we face as a department, both past and present.


What do you love most about working for Victory?


For me it’s the fast-paced environment, the dynamic nature of the company and the innovative nature of the business. I also love people and culture that is being created – everyone’s so open-minded and forward thinking, and decisions can be made in minutes rather than days. There are some challenging days, but we always push through and rally together.


How do you motivate the purchasing team?


My expectations are high, and I always encourage the team to strive for supply chain excellence. As a department, we know we still have things to learn but doesn’t every team? We’re all working hard together on improving efficiencies and looking at ways of becoming more proactive in our approach.


We’re looking at a new software system that will help with this, and it might be nerve-wracking because it will change the way we work, but it’s my job to help the team through it and remind them that we’re resilient and ready for anything.


Which is your favourite Victory home and why?


Up until recently, my favourite was the Faraday lodge. It’s clean cut, contemporary and not too fussy – a bit like me really. But I’d say it’s now the Bower – it just oozes class. Again, it’s very contemporary in its makeup and, dare I say it (because I don’t work in design!), very Scandi in feel. It’s light, fresh and will stand the test of time.


What do you do in your spare time?


 I’m pretty much a full-time taxi service for my three young kids. Both my two lads play football and I also coach my eldest sons’ team – the Barton Junior U11’s. My daughter has also just recently taken up dancing and she has her first show coming up - I’ll be a proud dad in the crowd!


We’re an outdoorsy family and we like to spend our holidays camping – we visit the Lake District at least once a year, as well as North Yorkshire and the Peak District.


When I do manage to get some time to myself, I also like to play football albeit very casually. When I’m not playing or coaching, I also like to watch Crewe Alexandra – please don’t judge me, I grew up in Crewe!


If you could travel to any year in a time machine, what year would you choose and why?


 There’s a couple of journeys I could take with this. I’d love to go back to 2003, my first year at uni. It was like the real world didn’t matter, it was the best year of my life I’d say, almost like an alternate reality. The other year I’d say is going back to 1966 - as a huge football fan I’d have loved to be there when England lifted the World Cup, as I don’t think it’ll ever happen again, especially in my lifetime!


If you could swap lives with anyone past or present, who would it be and why?


 I’ve just finished reading Shane Warne’s auto biography (I’m also a huge cricket fan), and he was the rock and roller of the cricket world – he brought charisma to cricket and was an inspiration to many. When I read his life story, he was the ultimate competitor, defied the media and had a wild personal life, too. Something I wouldn’t mind experiencing myself!

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