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Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Wednesday, 28 July 2010 14:11 UK
Boss goes undercover in Swindon restaurant
Marija Simovic
CEO Marija Simovic worked undercover at one of her restaurants

A boss of a large restaurant chain has been working undercover at the company's Swindon branch as part of a popular reality TV show.

The Channel 4 series, Undercover Boss, sees company directors working incognito in the bottom rung positions of their own businesses to see how they are run at grass roots level.

Marija Simovic, who is a new CEO at Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shop chain, took on a new identity to sample life working at the restaurant in Swindon's Designer Outlet Village.

Marija, 39, is the only female CEO featured in the TV series and as a new CEO has been tasked by Harry Ramsden's new owner to restore the chain to its former glory.

Undercover in Swindon

Disguised as new recruit, 'Millie Percy', Marija took on various trainee roles in a number of the company's UK stores including the restaurant in Swindon.

"It was nerve-wracking going undercover but the whole experience has really opened my eyes to exactly what needs to be done.

"I think it's great whether you're undercover or not. I think CEO's should get on the floor regularly and spend time with staff on the front line because they're the people serving your customers.

"I learnt a great deal from the manager at our store in Swindon's Designer Outlet Village, as you'll see in the programme. In fact, their expertise is now being applied across the group."

It was a bit of a surprise when I actually found out, and then I had to think what I'd said
Swindon manager Ashleigh Sargeant

In contrast the manager of the store in Swindon's Designer Outlet Village, Ashleigh Sargeant, learnt almost nothing about the real identity of his newest recruit:

"They told me she'd been made redundant from an office job," says Ashleigh, "and was trying out different industries and it was a series following her to find out what industry she'd like to go into next.

"So that was the story we got given."

But with cameras following the undercover CEO's every move, surely Ashleigh was suspicious?

"Sort of later on in the day when she started asking some of the questions. They seemed a bit in-depth for someone who hadn't worked in that industry before.

"But she was a good worker and she got on with all the staff and seemed really interested in what everyone had to say.

"So, it was a bit of a surprise when I actually found out, and then I had to think what I'd said and would I have said anything different had I known the truth."

Marija's episode of Undercover Boss is shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday 29 July 2010.

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