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Lifestyles of The Ritch

8th March 2018

The North South divide. A clash of cultures, a tale of more than two cities.

For Ritchie Barber, life at First Choice Group goes far beyond the daily duties and demands of being a warehouse supervisor. Our resident Mancunian has had to adapt to more than just the rigours of responsibility that sustain momentum and growth for the UK’s largest supplier of catering spares stock.

Mr B is having to absorb West Midlands culture and tailor an almost new identity which allows him to fully enjoy bostin scran and immerse himself in a lovely cup of tay!!!

So ow-am-ya Ritchie??? “I relocated to the Midlands from Manchester partly for this job but also for a relationship,” he explains.

“To be honest I could get a job back in the North West, and maybe for more money, but honestly, I wouldn’t want to now, I’m here and I love it down here.

“The culture here in Cannock and across the Midlands is so friendly, I much prefer it to Manchester. The people you meet are warm and sociable. Even work is not like being at work, you can have so much friendly banter and that actually helps you get the job done, people are much more productive when they are relaxed and enjoying their environment and the company of the people they work with.”

A change in his personal circumstances saw Ritchie move back to live in Manchester last August. But while the roof over his head may be in the North West his heart resides in the Midlands.

“I travel down to work from Manchester every morning. I’m up at 5.30am and usually on the motorway for 6am. I go straight to the gym when I get here before coming into work.

“Honestly, I so look forward to coming in every day, working in the warehouse at First Choice Group is unlike any experience I’ve ever had.

“I know from experience that warehouse work can, at times, be really frustrating. I spent 15 years with Argos before coming here so moving to this company, to come away from my family and friends, was a massive step.

“But from day one it’s been amazing and I’ve never doubted I made the right choice. The sociability here at First Choice Group, the people you meet down here in the Midlands, the culture and the environment, it’s all really inspiring, it’s so friendly.

“As a company First Choice is going to the next level. There are some big personalities in the warehouse but no egos, everyone does their job and does it well but they enjoy the ride, there’s banter and camaraderie, a really fantastic team spirit.

“I go home to Manchester at the weekends and see my family, see my niece, take the dog for a walk, and even though I’m only away for two days I do find myself missing my life down here. When I’m back up North at the weekends I talk to my friends about my work, the job I do, the people I work with and the environment I work in and I hear what they have to say about theirs.

“It makes me realise that being in a job with people you enjoy being with is priceless, this it what makes the job at First Choice so special. I feel proud working here, we are very lucky, not many people can say they work at a facility like ours with all of the benefits that it has. There is a strong ethos and identity here at First Choice Group and I see the company’s core values being demonstrated by people every day. Everything is so informal yet so efficient and productive.”

For Manchester United fanatic Ritchie, striking the right balance between your work life and your home life is crucial.

“People do keep them separate and I understand why but when you feel like you have a ‘family’ at work then you can enjoy your time at work more, it becomes less like work and more motivating, it helps you feel relaxed and makes you want to become productive and achieve more. It’s so important to find a place of work where there’s a real sense of togetherness and people supporting each other. That’s what we have at First Choice.”

But despite the passion he feels for his new community and the people around him, there are certain cultural differences that our Ritchie is still struggling to cope with. 

“I miss the fact that in Manchester you can order chips, cheese and gravy and not get looked at like you’ve got three heads. Having said that one of the great things about going out in the Midlands is that you can get a belting curry pretty much anywhere and everywhere.

“But I do have to say the accent down here kills me. When people say Go, they actually say GEW, I mean – what the hell is that about??!!!”

Sorted. Now get the man a brew, he’s mad fer it.


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