Berend Sonnevelt

Store Manager at The North Face
Amsterdam, Netherlands

„One week I visit our store in Denmark, the other week in Belgium and the week after home in the Netherlands. My title is still Store Manager, but I now have a joint responsibility for five stores instead of one, which is super cool!“

Berend Sonnevelt – The North Face

Berend Sonnevelt, Store Manager at The North Face in Amsterdam, has been working there for 2 years now and stayed to become responsible for supporting 5 stores in total. His story is focusing on the development and growth opportunity the corporate environment of VF offers him.

What made you apply at The North Face?

I was contacted by a recruiter. Honestly, I didn’t have any connection with the brand or company, but I dug in a little bit on the history of both The North Face and VF. I have a friend that had worked for VF a few years ago, he told me what a great time he had and how well he moved forward in that time both personally and professionally. And that was mainly my focus. I saw an opportunity to develop and grow. For me, that was one of the main reasons to join VF.

 

How has your career developed once you joined VF? 

Basically, I started as Store Manager in 2019. 2 months after I joined, the world exploded through COVID-19. During the lockdown, I got the opportunity to work with several district managers, because I went out and asked for new projects. You know, it’s not often that you’re getting opportunities handed. When it happens, you need to grab them and make the most of it!
So career-wise, my title is still Store Manager, but I’m now also covering the stores in the Benelux and Nordics. One week I visit our store in Denmark, the other week in Belgium and the week after home in the Netherlands. I now have a joint responsibility for five stores instead of one, which is super cool!

 

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

No day is the same. Even though, every day you wake up, check the figures, see what’s happening, answer the emails, still, every day is different. There’s absolutely no drag. Retail has been under pressure because of COVID, but it’s still super vibrant. The past two years, we’ve developed an incredible way to adapt to the customer’s needs shopping from home. We are now sending products from the stores to houses. We had to completely re-organise store teams to deal with the new business type. And there’s always challenges, there’s always new little projects. If you want to, you can work 24 hours a day. And if you want to, you can just take a step back and have a look on things developing. But for me, the best part is the energy and the challenge of making tomorrow better than today. That’s what keeps me going.

 

And what is the best part of working at VF / The North Face?

VF and The North Face are just like a big family. It’s really a people focused organisation, people first and the rest will come later. We are purpose-led and performance-driven, as we say, and that’s really what it is. If you haven’t worked here or experienced it yourself, there’s no way you can explain it to other people.

 

Do you see yourself working in retail at VF in five years time? 

Oh, yes! The corporate size makes it possible to keep growing, it’s very beneficial if you want to develop yourself further, personally and professionally. So, assuming that my development is continuing, then I’ll be here in the next 20 years. I’ve been working in retail since I was 15 or 16, so it’s not only a snapshot of my career, I really don’t want to do anything else. I definitely see myself in a more senior function though, more strategical.