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November 30, 2013

Digitally Enhanced Argos

Argos has unveiled its first digital concept store in Old Street London this week, where tablets take over from laminated catalogues, you are more likely to see a stylus than a pencil and service times are set at a 60 second target.

The new store has had a major facelift with digital A0 ‘posters’ in the windows and in store featuring current hot products and promotions, and a sea of tablets for browsing and ordering from. Shoppers can still get a catalogue should they wish to but the printing bill of 20 million catalogues of yesteryear will be significantly reduced from now on.

The new Argos concept store hopes to turn around the profit ...

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November 28, 2013

Does Morrisons have a virtually impossible task?

Dalton Philips, Morrison’s CEO, revealed how Morrisons plans to stand out from the crowd when it launches its online offer in January to the county of Warwickshire through focussing on fresh, quality produce. Morrison’s marketing message and point of difference is fresh food and by utilising reviews and impartial rosette ratings, the supermarket intends to bring its focus on quality to the customer’s front door.

A doorstep check where the customer has the opportunity to reject any fresh product that is not of a high enough standard, allows the customer peace of mind and will refund them the value of the rejected item via an emailed voucher. However, on...

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November 22, 2013

Co-op root and branch review

The Co-op should be ideally placed to benefit from the success of the convenience channel in food shopping, but Kantar market share data tells a different story. While the big four all report a decline in market share at the expense of discount grocers and Waitrose; the Co-op is the worst performing major food retailer. During the 12 weeks to November 10th, it was the only retailer to report a drop in sales of -0.4%, depleting its market share to 6.3% from 6.5% previously.

The problems of the banking arm of the Co-op group and the allegations against Flowers have led to the resignation of Len Wardle as chairman of the group and in his place the temporary appo...

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November 20, 2013

Asda reignites price war

Asda has launched a five year strategy called “Redefining Value Retailing” which promises to invest £1bn into lowering prices to position itself closer to the discount grocers of Aldi and Lidl and leave Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrisons to fight their own higher priced battle.

Asda’s price promise already commits to giving the customer a 10% saving on everyday food items compared to its competitors but this new strategy could widen that gap and puts Asda in a unique value grocer position. Asda are also investing £250m in product design and improvement along side the price reductions which reinforces its commitment to quality and targets the di...

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November 15, 2013

Sainsburys Hitting Milestones

With the results from Sainsburys’ first half trading come two significant milestones for the retailer: firstly the number 2 spot in Nielsen’s market share data of 16.8% knocking Asda into third position and secondly achieving higher profits than Morrisons. Next week Justin King celebrates 10 years as the CEO of Sainsburys and with results like these he has reason to celebrate.

Sainsburys’ first half pre-tax profits were up 7% on the year, finally after 35 successive quarters of like for like sales growth a significant profit growth to compete with Morrisons. Despite Morrisons’ sales being 25% lower than that of its rival, it has consistently been mo...

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November 14, 2013

Third time unlucky for Barratts?

Barratts has appointed administrators for the third time in its history after a £5m refinancing deal was withdrawn leaving the 75 remaining stores and 23 concessions teetering on the brink.

Stylo owned Barratts was first put into administration in 2009 when Stylo bought back 160 of their 380 stores and then again at the end of 2011 when they bought back 89 stores. With 75 stores remaining and with 23 concessions there is less to buy back should Stylo be complete gluttons for punishment and go for a third attempt. However, closing loss making stores doesn’t save a dying proposition and anyone who does believe that there is still life left in the brand would do w...

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November 12, 2013

Morrisons Report Deterioration in Sales

Morrisons have reported a 2.4% decline in like for like sales excluding fuel for their 3rd quarter which is a further deterioration from their 1st half like for like sales decrease of 1.6%. The lack of an online offer and too few convenience stores for Morrisons compared with their peers has left them exposed in the fastest growing sectors of the grocery industry.

A fast paced roll out of the M Local convenience format centred in the South East promises to have 100 stores open before the end of their financial year, plus another 100 stores in 2014/5. The Morrisons online offer will be trialling in Warwickshire and into Yorkshire early next year with a...

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November 5, 2013

Fall in Marks and Spencer Profits

Marks and Spencer reported underlying profit before tax was down to £261.6m in the 26 weeks to September 28, versus £287.3m last year while group sales edged up from £4.7bn to £4.9bn.

Predictably, like for like sales in general merchandise were down following the trend of the last few years. Womenswear has been under the spotlight with an expensive relaunch and marketing campaign for Autumn Winter but stock was only on sale for 1 of the 6 months reported with warm weather for September so has yet to make any impression. Early indicators according to Bolland are good with not a pink coat to be found, although what that says about availability m...

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November 1, 2013

Sainsburys Battle On

Sainsburys are seeking a judicial review after the ASA council rejected their complaint about the Tesco Price Promise. Tesco’s money back price promise was the first from the big four supermarkets to compare the prices of own brand and fresh foods as well as branded goods and then refund the customer with the difference with a voucher up to the value of £10.

Sainsburys complaint was founded on the incomparability of product attributes including provenance and ethics claiming that customers are not aware of the sources of the goods and are not given enough information to take that into consideration when then are making their purchase decision.


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October 31, 2013

High Street Recovery On Pause

Fears for the High Street recovery have been raised after a lack lustre October performance according to the CBI’s distributive trades survey. The CBI expected 31% more retailers to report an increase in sales compared to those reporting a decline when in fact only 2% more reported a rise in October sales.

Within the survey results, it was the grocery sector that saw the worst results with 17% more grocers reporting a fall rather than a rise in sales volumes. After eight months of seeing the majority of grocery retailers seeing an increase in sales, these survey results understandably have raised a few alarm bells although Asda’s chief merchandising officer ...

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October 28, 2013

M&S Food Space Race

Marks and Spencer are exploiting their successful run of 15 quarters of like for like growth in food and committing to opening another 150 food stores in the next 3 years, double their current opening rate. This is in addition to the four new franchise stores opened in the Netherlands in the last quarter in BP petrol stations which are the first outside of the UK and Ireland. There are also plans for 10 stores in partnership with Relay at French transportation hubs.

Big expansion plans indeed, but according to the diversity of their market share across the UK, they believe there are significant sales to go for in locations where they are under-represented. There are sales ...

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October 28, 2013

Tesco's Cost of Waste

Tesco made a shaming admission recently by revealing that 28,500 tonnes of food is wasted through their stores and distribution centres each year. In addition to that, there is the food that families throw away at home which amounts to about £700 per year.

Not only is there the economic cost to consider to the business but also the social cost when people go to bed hungry every day. Earlier this year Tesco said they would donate surplus food to FareShare, where food is distributed to 1000 charities to provide millions of meals to those most in need. Tesco themselves are expecting to donate 7 million meals providing excess food from their supply chain. As a business t...

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October 17, 2013

Sainsburys joins the dark side

Sainsburys have announced plans to open a dark store in East London in the next few years to serve up to an additional 20,000 online customers across London and the South East extending their reach beyond the 214 stores that currently serve online orders.

A dark store is a warehouse that is set out like a supermarket enabling staff to pick orders quickly and efficiently without having to negotiate around customers which is the case in a store based operation. Jon Rudoe, Sainsbury’s Director of Online, Digital and Cross-channel, explains that "The site will be purpose built with the Sainsbury’s customer in mind and will support our existing store based oper...

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October 11, 2013

Tesco's Finest Hour

Tesco’s Finest range was launched 13 years ago, introducing the grocery industry to a new concept of premium ready meals that has since grown into a brand worth £1.4bn of sales annually. More than 12million Finest branded products are sold every week in the UK making it the largest brand of it’s kind and with a growth rate of 14.5% in the last year, it is an asset that Tesco cannot afford to be complacent with.

Hence the relaunch of the brand where 75% of the 1500 products are new or reformulated, putting an emphasis on the values that customers hold in highest regard, like provenance and sustainability. Seemingly those values are not important for som...

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October 4, 2013

Still Waiting for the Tesco Turnaround

Tesco, the biggest retailer in the UK, didn’t surprise the market today by announcing a fall in first half like for like sales of 0.5%, the second quarter trading not strong enough to offset the poor first quarter. The Build a Better Tesco turnaround plan has passion and energy behind it but is not delivering (yet). The city still appear to have faith that it will have an effect but not for up to another 18 months, in the meantime Philip Clarke’s nails will be chewed to the quick.

The legacy of underinvestment in stores and products coupled with overinvestment in overseas ventures and space meant the rejuvenation plan was long overdue. The Watford store makeove...

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October 4, 2013

Sainsburys Still Solid

While all those around him are cracking, Justin King stands tall with another quarter of positive sales under his belt. A consistent 2% like for like sales growth for the 35th successive quarter is indeed something to be proud of, but more than that, the growth is being delivered through online sales and convenience stores. He must have a massive grin on his face when he sees either of the Clarkes who seem to be struggling (Tesco's Philip and Asda's Andy) or Dalton Philips who is in a tailspin.

The Sainsburys estate is in much better shape than its rivals, it has delivered 16% online growth to achieve £1bn annualised sales in September with the ...

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October 1, 2013

Aldi Profits Double

Aldi filed their accounts at Companies House today revealing more than a 100% increase in profits for their financial year to December 31st 2012 off a 40% increase in sales. Their store base continues to grow, now standing at about 500 stores with another 100 planned through 2013 and 2014 requiring £400m investment.

Matthew Barnes, joint managing director, cites significant range development and a strategy that offers the customer everyday value as the key factors behind Aldi’s success. The Aldi range has grown from 800 products to approximately 1350 products, with an emphasis on British fresh produce, meeting customer demands. Consumer research r...

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September 26, 2013

Click and Collect - the Matchmaker Bringing eBay and Argos

eBay have announced that they are launching a Click and Collect trial with Argos where goods purchased from around 50 eBay merchants can be delivered to a local Argos store for collection. The growth of the click and collect model in the UK triggered eBay to look for a High Street based retailer and with their supply chain infrastructure and warehouse store operation, Argos are an obvious choice.

For Argos, the opportunity to benefit from increased footfall is one that cannot be ignored although it is unlikely that they would financially benefit from the deal directly given the fulfilment fee would only cover costs. If the Argos distribution network were operating close...

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September 25, 2013

Tesco Surfing the M-commerce Wave

Tesco launched their eagerly awaited own-brand tablet, the Hudl, on Monday aiming to penetrate into the 75% of UK households who do not have a tablet. At £119 the android tablet is more expensive than anticipated but has a good specification so still represents value for money. Yet, had it been under £100 it could have really wowed consumers who may be considering buying one for Christmas. The Amazon Kindle Fire can be bought for £99, and with the strength of the Amazon brand behind it, may be a more popular choice.

The Hudl brand is designed to target families, and specifically Tesco customers who, with Clubcard points could get the tablet significant...

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September 24, 2013

Who's telling Porkies?

Tesco have been found to have sold pork chops labelled as British when analysis points to them being most probably Dutch in origin. There is only a 1% possibility that they are from British livestock according to the British Pig Executive, who carried out the test for a BBC investigation.

This follows the horse meat scandal earlier this year where some Tesco beef products were found to contain horse meat, leading to an industry investigation where other retailers were also found to have mislabelled product. Another mislabelling crisis for Tesco as the lucrative Christmas season approaches is going to cause a significant dent in trust.

After the horse meat cri...

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September 19, 2013

Fashion sales have clicked

Fashion retailers have recorded strong growth through the summer months including Debenhams who reported today a 2% increase in like for like sales for the year. In store sales are up but it is online sales that are driving the strong growth numbers which for Debenhams was a 46.2% increase on the previous year. This far outstrips overall online fashion sales, resulting in market share growth for the department store that reported weak pre tax performance in April this year after weak Christmas trading.

Next also reported a 2.2% sales increase last week in their first half trading and again this was largely driven by online and catalogue up 8.3%, while John Lewis and Wai...

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September 13, 2013

Primark's missing link

The perfect UK summer, more store space and higher sales densities are being credited for what is expected to be a 22% increase in annual sales and profit growth for Primark in its pre-close trading statement. Despite a poor start to the spring summer season, Primark sales were boosted by the heat wave of the summer, successfully keeping mark downs at a minimum, and driving higher sales densities in larger stores. Like for like sales growth is expected to be in the region of 5% coupled with an increase of 10% in sales space over the year, through new store openings and expansion of existing sites.

The High Street is certainly working for the low price high fashion retai...

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September 12, 2013

Morrisons Playing Catch Up at a Cost

At the end of their first financial half Morrisons profits have fallen by almost £100m compared to the same period last year with a drop in like for like sales of 1.6%. Dalton Philips cites the economic climate as contributing to the disappointing performance yet Morrisons have failed to retain customers as they migrate to Aldi and other discounters in their Northern England heartland. In short, Morrisons have been too slow to respond to the climate and to evolving market trends and now catch up comes with a cost.

Morrisons lack an online business and have too few convenience stores, the two best performing sectors of the grocer industry. By the end of the year th...

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September 12, 2013

You can't fight evolution

This has been the week of High Street reviews with Mary Portas speaking with the select committee for the Department for Communities and Local Government to discuss progress on the report she wrote two years ago, and with Bill Grimsey’s review released on the 4th of September. Each has been researched and written with the objective to revitalise Britain’s High Street businesses and each is controversial in its own way, either in the ask it makes of Government to rethink business rates and local council parking fees, or in the proposal for large high turnover retailers to fund a High Street levy. Each has also found its critics.

September 11, 2013

Can The Co-op deliver a convenience online offer?

The Co-op is taking a softly softly approach to launching an on-line offer with four separate trials to determine the right model for their business. The 6th largest grocer has taken its time to even dip a toe into the online grocery market but with basket sizes hovering around the £6 mark it has been hard to see how an online grocery offer could ever make any financial sense for them.

Steve Murrels, The Co-op’s food director, knows that they should be online and also knows that the evidence points to sales cannibalising in store revenue and margin erosion. But he also recognises that should a Co-op customer want to order online they will go somew...

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September 10, 2013

The Cost of Half Price Deals

Tesco were fined £300,000 last week for misleading the public on the price of strawberries, offering them at £1.99, half of the original price of £3.99. Unfortunately the original price was not offered for long enough to constitute a real offer according to the Office of Fair Trading and misled the consumer constituting a breach of the rules resulting in Tesco’s prosecution.

It seems that this infringement has opened a whole can of worms and the OFT is now said to be investigating a further six retailers for artificially inflating prices in order to market and promote them to consumers as half price or better deals. For an offer to be deemed as g...

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September 9, 2013

The Race Is On For New Sporting Facias

JD Sports are to expand their business estate into larger premises after recognising the gap in the market left by JJB for performance sports clothing and equipment. They are to close their store in the City of London which is too small for the proposition and are instead looking at four or five new sites this year for the JD Pro facia to accommodate the growing market for more specialised products for the serious sports person.

Tom Knight, previously JJB’s chief executive, launched the format and opened JD Pro last September but then decamped to Matalan where, not surprisingly, he is to launch their version of the same proposition under the facia Sporting Pro. In...

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August 20, 2013

The Treasury's Taxing Problem

Online retailers are breathing a sigh of relief as the threat of an online sales tax has been ruled out by the treasury, because of fears of stifling their growth and the positive benefits they are having on the economy. Traditional bricks and mortar retailers are, however, no closer to a realistic solution to the archaic business rates crippling their businesses.

There was never going to be an easy answer and it seems that the British Retail Consortium are shrugging their shoulders too, now having stepped back from their ‘rates freeze’ stance of only a few weeks ago. The BRC is now aligned with the CBI and is backing a 2% cap on rates rise, stating that a free...

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August 16, 2013

Asda: Click, collect and community

Asda may have reported weak sales growth this week of only 0.7% like for like sales over the past 12 weeks, but the success they are seeing in click and collect orders has spurred on an investment drive in collection points for its customers for their click and collect service.

Asda is looking at a 250 site roll out this year, capitalising on the growth in click and collect delivery which they anticipate being as significant as home delivery in coming years. The sites will include stand-alone locations such as a park-and-ride in Nottingham and potentially areas of London which are not served by a store. In addition, Asda say they are continuing to invest in store space,...

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August 13, 2013

Generating a return on space

Tesco have revealed the supermarket of the future, according Philip Clarke, as their Watford store has undergone a complete transformation. Not only is Tesco Watford a place to go to buy groceries, the largest store in Tesco’s estate now includes a Giraffe restaurant, a Harris and Hoole coffee shop, a Euphorium bakery and a F&F fashion store. In addition, a community room can be booked for yoga classes or a toddler group or you may prefer to have a manicure at the instore Nail Bar.

This is the first time that Tesco have brought together all of their acquisitions and brands under one roof in order to create a family destination store, designed to attract new cu...

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August 8, 2013

The Sunnier Side of the Street

Retail sales in July basked in the sun and have delivered a much needed boost to retailers revenue lines. July sales were up 2.2% like for like compared to last year and up 3.9% overall which is the best sales result since July 2006.

The big winners were grocers as sales of barbeque foods, beer and soft drinks, especially bottled water, were significantly up on last year. Consumers were happy to spend on outdoor entertaining, making the most of the sun while it lasts and celebrating British sporting victories. Fashion sales were also to be celebrated as consumers splashed out on summer clothing albeit at discounted prices. The poor margins on those fashion sales will unfortunat...

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August 5, 2013

EasyGroup trial budget food retailing

Is there room in the grocery market for a new competitor? Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of EasyJet, seems to think so. It was while observing food bank operations in the UK and in Cyprus that he determined there was a need for an affordable basic food retailer to cater for those most under financial pressure. Focussing on tinned and packet no-brand name products he believes that there is a niche at the most budget end of the market, even lower priced than Lidl and Aldi who continue to gain share from a polarised grocery market.

Plans for this year are only for a pilot store in Croydon but if successful will be expanded next year into more sites across the UK. The pi...

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July 30, 2013

Comparing apples with pears?

When Tesco launched their Price Promise back in March, not only promising to match prices with its competitors on branded goods but on own brand too, there was an immediate uproar from Sainsburys challenging how comparisons could be made when pack sizes differ, ingredients differ and quality differs. An official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority was made but this looks set to be dismissed.

Sainsburys continues to challenge the fairness of comparing their basics British sourced ham for example, with that of Tesco sourced from the EU. The price is the same but the provenance of the product differs. This is also true of another of the examples used by Mike C...

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July 29, 2013

Down-sizing space, not sales

Home owners downsize when overhead costs become unmanageable and then reinvest the initial first year savings in making their property their home. The DIY and home improvements sector has seen a difficult few years with the downturn in the property market leading B&Q and Wickes to reassess the saturated DIY market in the UK and their own space needs. This cost saving strategy coupled with the eventual arrival of Summer, has seen strong performances from Kingfisher Group incorporating B&Q and Screwfix, and Travis Perkins who own Wickes in the last 10 weeks.

B&Q have delivered 1.9% like for like sales growth for the last 10 weeks driven by the arrival of summe...

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July 29, 2013

Cashing in or exploitation?

Tesco has found itself having to apply for retrospective planning permission after it erected a marquee in the store car park in Ilfracombe, aiming to boost sales of high season holiday goods. Naturally retailers have been pushing their barbecues and bringing suntan lotions to the front of the store to capitalise on the weather while the British heatwave continues. No doubt, today as the thunderstorms spread across the country, umbrellas will be joining the beach towels on gondola ends. However in Ilfracombe, the locals are not impressed, or more specifically the local retailers are not impressed.

Retail Experts ...

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July 18, 2013

The Not-So-Big-As-They-Were Four

Somewhere in the distant future we will have to stop referring to the Big Four and change to the Big Six, Seven or Eight as the market continues to shift and polarise into discounters and premium grocers. At the end of the last quarter, Aldi and Lidl continued double digit sales growth year on year, reinforcing their market share positions in the top eight grocers in the UK. Waitrose at the premium end of the market was the only other retailer to achieve an increase in its market share compared to a year ago. Even Sainsburys with its sales growth could do no more than maintain share for the quarter.

Price has been the toughest battleground for all the grocers, with prom...

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July 17, 2013

From Sports Direct via Europe to Fashion Direct

As Sports Direct look set to report an 18% rise in revenue and a 45% increase in pre-tax profits, their spending spree continues with their purchase of a stake in Pulp, a small chain of fashion retailers swiftly on the heels of Republic. Previously limited to sports brands, Sports Direct is now setting its sights on Fashion, exploring the wealth of opportunities associated with their strategy to buy up distressed brands and sell them at a discount. How fashion sits under a sports brand or even if it should be incorporated into the brand, is yet to be seen but the successes of multiple retailers of value fashion brands on the High Street is evidence enough for the founder Mike Ashley and...

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July 11, 2013

When is a sales decline good news?

Ordinarily a reported decline in like for like sales of -1.6% for your first quarter of trading would be bad news but when you are Marks and Spencer with a less than glowing track record of poor clothing sales in your wake, then a decline in general merchandise sales of ‘only’ 1.6% is good news.

We are used to hearing about another trading period of struggling general merchandise sales from Marks and Spencer, just as are we familiar with the jewel in the crown: food sales which have reported 1.8% increase like for like for the first quarter. But no one seems to be saying ‘only’ 1.8% increase though. Last quarter food sales were up 4% on a like fo...

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July 11, 2013

Halfords - Riding the trend

The nation’s passion for cycling was reignited last summer thanks to the definitive wins of our cycling Olympians and Wiggins win of the Tour de France, and Halfords have positioned themselves nicely as the man on the street’s go-to location for all things bikes.

Halfords last trading quarter saw like for like cycling sales grow by 15.5% driving the group like for like sales increase of 7.5% showing that the expansion of cycling in their offer has been perfectly timed. They will have a very tricky quarter coming up as they are up against the summer of sport of last year but they have moved on since then, focussing on the modernisation of stores and range dev...

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July 5, 2013

The multichannel journey has only just begun

by Jennifer Creevy, deputy editor of Retail Week

A great deal of lip service is paid to multichannel retailing. It is a goal many retailers are trying to achieve. Some believe they’ve already made it, others are more honest about the work they still need to do.

Multichannel retailing is about putting the customer first. Retailers talk about shopping through stores, online or mobile, but the starting point to being truly multichannel is to offer customers what they want, when they want it.

And that means allowing them to shop wherever they want to shop – whether in the aisles, using a computer or on the go via their ...

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July 4, 2013

Ocado: retailer or logistic solutions provider?

This time last year Ocado posted a modest first half pre-tax profit of £200,000. Then came the lure of a rapidly expanding business thanks to the tie in with Morrisons and the need for additional customer fulfilment capacity and profits turned to losses. Ocado posted a pre-tax loss of £3.8m today despite a 15.6% revenue growth and 28.7% climb in EBITDA.

Ocado share price is soaring on the back of the partnership with Morrisons, not because of the increase in groceries being delivered around the country and better capacity utilisation, but because the value of the technology and logistic solutions they have developed have been realised. The rumour mill is in ...

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June 26, 2013

Put Autumn On Hold

If you walk down your High Street today you will see three quarters of retailers will have launched half price sales. That compares to 60% of retailers three years ago. Not only that, but the discount will be deeper than it was three year years ago with up to 70% off being offered.

And Summer hasn’t really started yet. Of course, the weather has been unkind to fashion retailers so far this year which has left most with excess stock to clear, to release space and cash to be able to buy in for Autumn. So just as summer really gets going the Autumn ranges hit the shops and you can’t get a pair of sandals in your size to match the maxi dress you picked up at hal...

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June 20, 2013

Can data save the High Street?

As soon as the barcode was invented data stockpiling started. A new breed of retailers was born who, in another generation would have been code breakers. As quickly as an item was scanned at the till, the data was compiled to assess how many were sold, and where and how many more should be bought for future sales. It was all about forecasting.

Today, data is not only that captured by the scanner at the till. It is also the wealth of data that can be gleaned from website journeys and from what you didn’t buy. It is also about social media and the dialogue and engagement that consumers have with brands and retailers as well as with each other; the links they share w...

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June 19, 2013

Tax, rent, rates and equality

When does taxation ever feel fair? Online retailers are fighting back against the suggestion made by bricks and mortar retailers that they should be taxed to level the playing field because they don’t have the same obligations to business rates and rent.

I can almost hear the cries from the boardroom, “It isn’t fair.”

Surely this is just market forces and the advantages and disadvantages of differing business models. Yes, retailers with stores on High Streets have to pay rent and business rates on those properties which must be factored into their margins in order to make a profit. This may require their prices to be slightly hig...

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June 12, 2013

34 Quarters and Counting

Another quarter and another set of growth figures for Sainsburys.

Sainsburys declared its 34th consecutive quarter of growth today with 0.7% like for like sales growth compared to last year. Admittedly this is the softest year on year figure the grocer has reported in some time but let’s not forget the Jubilee fever that was hitting the country last year and all those barbeques and garden parties, so comparisons were always going to be tough.

Unlike their main rivals, Sainsburys growth is ahead of the market and has not been promotionally fuelled. This is just good solid trading so not only is their market share increasing, but their ma...

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June 11, 2013

Shopping with a conscience

In an era where consumer’s belts are so tight that there isn’t another notch left, how do you encourage them into store? The shelves are peppered with price promotions but tap into the public’s social conscience and add on an incentive, and it’s a win win.

B&Q are trialling a garden tools trade in, where old or broken garden tools are donated, via a B&Q store, to The Conservation Foundation. This scheme gives the tools to prisoners in HMP Bristol to refurbish and then they are donated to community groups or schools in the area. In return, the customer is given a £10 voucher redeemable against a £40 spend on new garden tools. F...

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June 10, 2013

Where do Homebase go from here?

Gordon Portman

By Gordon Portman

So the DIY balloon continues to deflate for the fifth successive year with consumer spending in the sector some 5bn less than 10 years ago and set to get even worse according to analysts! Homebase (and by default the parent Home Retail Group) have taken a real battering with recent results indicating that customers are choosing to vote with their feet and shop elsewhere. Why?


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June 5, 2013

Tesco fail to capitalise on Christmas gains

Tesco had a better Christmas than some of its competitors but since then, there has been little to suggest it wasn’t just a fluke. Tesco’s 1st quarter results show no sign of a turnaround with a decline in UK like for like sales of -1% driven largely by general merchandise, and as they put it, ‘a disproportionately high exposure to consumer electronics’.

Their last financial year was dire; profits slumping, exiting the US, writing down property assets and losing market share in the UK to Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose. Under investment in stores through Leahy’s reign has come home to roost and now Tesco are playing catch up with a &poun...

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June 3, 2013

The Five Year Wake Up Call

The Retail Futures report 2018 makes for very depressing reading, predicting one fifth of stores will close over the next five years and 320,000 will lose their job as a consequence.

The report prepared for the Centre for Retail Research suggests that it will be the non-food retailers who will suffer the greatest losses, as more customers take their business online or to the supermarkets. Pharmacy and health and beauty categories will be the hardest hit with up to a third of retailers closing and stores selling music, books, cards, stationery and gifts are also to become "far less prominent" within the next five years.

May 28, 2013

Homebase Building on a Different Future

For once the bank holiday weather was in retailers favour this Whitsun holiday and DIY’ers should have been out in force, stocking up on tools and materials for their domestic projects. But if recent trends are right, despite perfect conditions, DIY spending will be continuing on its five year downward trend.

Homebase’s operating profit halved in the last financial year and is understandably looking for ways to grow their bottom line in a declining market. New formats are on the agenda and the latest opening in Battersea, London is using a very different mix of space to provide a solution. The traditional DIY departments have been downsized to create space for...

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May 24, 2013

A more traditional chapter for Waterstones

Waterstones the book seller are putting 560 managers into consultation in order to restructure the role in their stores. Gone are branch managers, assistant managers, deputy managers and general managers and in their place are Bookshop Managers. How many of these new style managers are required for their 300 store estate has not been stated, which means there are fewer roles than people to fill them.

However, we hope this is an active step for the retailer to return to a traditional style of shop floor selling, where staff are there to help and provide a service to customers rather than to fulfil administrative needs of store management. Given the recent report from Vista...

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May 21, 2013

M&S have a taxing week

A poor set of financial results for the troubled retailer M&S has been coupled with challenges to its tax practices. Annual like for like sales were down 1% dragged down by the performance in general merchandise, while food continues to grow delivering +1.7% like for like. But it is the sales to Europe that are of more interest to its tax critics. While internet sales to UK customers are subject to UK tax, any European sales of UK goods are subject to Irish VAT rates through its Irish arm.

What has been overlooked by protestors, however, is that the UK stalwart M&S is not in business to pay as much tax as possible to the UK treasury, but to deliver the highest pos...

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May 17, 2013

It's all in the execution

As the PR frenzy starts to die down after the M&S launch of the much anticipated Autumn Winter 2013 clothing collections, the reality of delivering it takes hold.

Belinda Earl and John Dixon have spent six months researching this collection, really getting under the skin of their core customer and brand heritage, desperate to turn the tide on the continued slump of M&S clothing sales. Marc Bolland won’t be getting his bonus this year but he will be hopeful of one next year, should the excitement that was generated at the launch show be translated into sales.

Retail Consultants UK<...

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May 14, 2013

Three's a crowd

When does three make a crowd? When two of the three are competitors and the pre-nup agreement is being waved around.

Waitrose chief executive, Mark Price, is ready to oppose a deal between Ocado and Morrisons. Explicit in the contract between Waitrose and Ocado is a clause to prevent Ocado delivering any other grocer’s goods, however it is believed that a deal for intellectual property would not constitute a breach. No specifics have been shared by any party to divulge the extent of the proposed deal but Mark Price is clearly firing a few warning shots and protecting his position.

Retail Experts

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May 10, 2013

Morrisons Lack Lustre

Morrisons first quarter sales results offer no surprises with a 1.8% like for like sales decline. The decline is less than their last quarter but does nothing to recover lost market share. Aldi are gaining share in Morrison’s heartland in Northern England and are on a level playing field not having a convenience format or online business, but they are offering good value quality product. Morrisons have been urged by analysts to ‘sharpen their value pencil’ and have made progress but the primary brand message ‘Fresh’ is getting a bit stale.

Retail Experts

Morrisons have...

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May 8, 2013

Sainsburys In Safe Hands

Sainsburys have today reported a 1.8% growth in like for like sales for their full financial year coupled with an increase in underlying pre-tax profits of 6.2%. Justin King can justifiably stand proud that his 10 years as CEO have turned the retailer’s fortunes. There was no mention today of succession planning so rumours of an imminent departure remain unfounded and with one more box left to tick I would expect him to remain at the helm for at least another year.

Sainsburys’ market share grew to 16.8% according to the latest Kantar Worldpanel data, the only growth recorded by the big four and leaves them tantalisingly close to taking over from Asda as the UK...

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May 3, 2013

Argos Sales Up For First Time In Five Years

Argos has published positive like for like sales for the first time in five years, 2.1% up on their financial year. This is a cause for celebration and praise is due to the electrical buying team for being in the right place at the right time when the tablet PC boom hit in the latter half of 2012. Together with sales of children’s electronic devices, tablets have driven the sales growth and when availability is the key decision criteria, Argos’ live online stock availability and click and reserve make it very easy for the customer to find their product.

So with a bit of luck and good judgement thrown in Argos have benefited and in so doing fuelled the sales of...

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May 1, 2013

Pop-Up Stores are Win Win

PopUp Britain are opening a unit in London’s Kings Road to offer new retailing entrepreneurs an opportunity to sell their wares from somewhere other than their bedrooms. The PopUp Britain enterprise, as part of the StartUp Britain campaign, believe new businesses need to have experience of selling through bricks and mortar in order to grow and see this as an way for them to do just that in a low risk and low cost way.

As a side effect, the general health of the High Street benefits too. A landlord has a previously unoccupied unit paying rent (although I would hope it would be nominal); customers see new and exciting offers in their High Street that will change frequ...

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April 26, 2013

Aldi Gain Market Share With Strong Sales Growth

Aldi are having a fabulous start to the year according to Kantar Worldpanel who report that, for the 12 weeks up to 14th April, their sales are more than 31% up on the same period last year. Lidl and Waitrose are also significant winners of market share while Tesco part with 0.8% share points. Aldi were not unscathed by the horse meat scandal so we can only imagine what their share gain could have been.

Aldi are noteworthy for their loyal customers who rank them highly for customer service and quality, attributes that have placed them as the nation’s second favourite supermarket according to Which?. Good prices attract customers, but it is by giving great...

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April 24, 2013

Let Asda Download Your Shopping Into Your Boot

Asda are to trial same day delivery for its online grocery shopping and are to expand click-and-collect groceries across a further 200 stores. Currently, click-and-collect accounts for 50% of Asda’s non-food orders and 5% of food orders and their online sales are growing at 20% a year.

Retail Support

One of the click-and-collect concepts Asda are trialling is a drive-through in York where you wave your smart phone at a reader and have your groceries downloaded into your boot. Another innovative step towards hassle free shopping, yet another step further away from entering a shop. Asda are cle...

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April 24, 2013

All this talk over whether M&S needs a female boss has got me thinking.....

M & S has had some trying times, all of them coinciding with their loss of customer contact and relevance to the UK shopper. They conversely have had times where their designs have been in synch with the population and their approach rewarded with strong growth and profit. Kim Winser in the late ‘90’s typified a strong buying period for M & S and fashion relevant clothing flew off the shelves, inspired by top designers such as Julian McDonald. When Kim moved on to Pringle a period of indecision was lifted by the introduction of George Davies, fresh from strong discipline and design at Next and pure volume from George at Asda. “Per Una” was born and with i...

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April 19, 2013

Debenhams Online Sales More Profitable Than Shops

Debenhams are the latest in a long line of retailers to report a decline in profits following the snow and cold conditions so far this Spring. Yesterday they reported their pre-tax profits are down 5.4% for the first half of their financial year suffering from discounting needed to invigorate sales and clear stock. Michael Sharp, CEO, is not promising a miraculous turn around either, remaining stoic about sales expectations and customer confidence.

But while shop sales creep along, Debenhams’ online sales are seeing exceptional growth reporting 46% increase for the first half compared to last year. Their online sales are now 12.7% of total sales, therefore sales thr...

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April 18, 2013

Tesco report first fall in profits in 20 years but investors are upbeat

Despite reporting a 14% fall in underlying Group profit compared to last year, Tesco investors appear to be upbeat and in a forgiving mood. This is just as well given the £1.2bn write down of exiting the US business and the decision to write down its UK property portfolio by more than £800m which was confirmed today. Philip Clarke has made some tough decisions and drawn a welcome line in the sand and given his investors what they wanted to hear - a focus on the UK and online businesses.

UK sales were up 1.8% for the year generating a profit of £2.3bn down 8.3%. The fourth quarter was the strongest of the year and is hinting at a recovery of growth. The U...

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April 12, 2013

A Weekend of Retail Release

The smell of freshly mowed lawns could be in the air this weekend as Spring is forecast to finally make its appearance. It’s perhaps rivalled by the smell of desperation from some of the fashion and non-food retailers as frustratingly their Spring products lie untouched eroding, sales against last year and inevitably profit. This weekend could be the “Retail Release” they so crave.

The marketing department of every retailer with an ounce of seasonality to its offer, will be hard at it, negotiating advertising slots for the ads they shelved over Easter. Consumers should expect to be overwhelmed with messages about iced drinks, floating tea dresses and law...

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April 11, 2013

Marks and Spencer out in the cold

There were no surprises this morning when the 4th quarter sales results from Marks and Spencer showed a 3.8% decline in like for like sales of general merchandise compared to 2012. It has been widely forecast that the inclement weather in March seriously hampered any hope of recouping lost sales from the first two months of the year. Cold weather was blamed for the lack of Spring sales, not least by Marc Bolland, however there is also an underlying issue of fashionability. It may be that their 49 year old core customer just doesn’t like the ranges. She is the oldest core customer in the UK market, and seems to have been seduced by the likes of Next and John Lewis who ha...

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April 9, 2013

Green shoots of optimism

Retail sales grew in March by 1.9% like for like, prompting hopes for improved consumer confidence. Even though the March figures from the British Retail Consortium include Easter which was in April last year, the message from Helen Dickinson, BRC Director-General, remained upbeat, saying the results were an encouraging end to the year’s first quarter.

As expected, clothing sales were hardest hit by the cold weather, with consumers staying wrapped up rather than seeking out summer fashions. Last year there was a mini heat wave in March which gave sales a welcome boost but this year tensions are rising for fashion retailers, concerned that unless the weather improves...

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April 5, 2013

A Tale of Two Seasons - John Lewis benefit from out of season fashions

John Lewis had a week that other retailers could only dream of, with sales up 23.1% last week, and up 14.6% compared to Easter week in April in 2012. Drawing customers in from the cold with their Price Match and Double Points promotion on their partnership card was certainly a major contributor to increased footfall, particularly to their At Home stores. Homewares were up 22.5% and electricals and home technology saw an outstanding increase of 46.7%.

Layout of Store

Despite the cold and concerns for John Lewis’ Spring Summer fashion ranges, it was clothing de...

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April 4, 2013

A Coffee and Cake Fuelled Easter Holiday

An Early Easter can be a bonus to retailers if the weather is good, both the DIY sheds and Garden Centres can start selling big ticket items reducing the risk for later in the season and making maximum profit. Unfortunately the longest winter since 1962 has dealt a body blow to early sales and profit for both Garden Centres and DIY sheds. The Arctic winds made it a bit too bracing to be laying a patio or tidying the borders but were perfect conditions for browsing, drinking coffee and gift buying. Footfall was reported to be good by the Garden Centre Association, but customers were not ready to invest in garden furniture or lawn care products just yet. Given the arctic winds, I don&rsqu...

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March 28, 2013

Peter Jones Breathes New Life into Jessops

Three months after Jessops collapsed and closed its’ doors, Peter Jones today opens two stores with another 4 to open over the weekend and 30 more through April. According to Jones, the new and improved Jessops will have a new store look, will be fully integrated with its online offer and provide a click and collect option for its customers. In addition customers can attend photography courses at the Jessops Photography Academy to improve their skills and make the most from their cameras (which they have hopefully purchased from Jessops) before printing out their photos while they wait in store.

These are all steps that the previous management team should have imple...

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March 26, 2013

In Anticipation of a Digitally Innovated High Street

The High Street has been given a helping hand with the announcement that The Association of Town and City Management will be leading the programme to support and develop our High Streets over the next two years. After last weeks disappointment of Business Rates, retailers were knocking at Number 10 for help to deliver growth so that they could pay the rates. We will be following the developments of this closely and offer our no-holds-barred opinion as ever.

This programme will take the budgets allocated off the back of Mary Portas’ report last year and provide the support and mentoring that local towns and retailers need to innovate their High Streets and keep custo...

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March 20, 2013

Chancellor goes ahead with Business rates increase

Despite some of the biggest names in retail joining the fight through Fair Rates for Retail campaign, the Chancellor did not freeze business rates and the planned increase of £175m will go ahead next month. This is on top of the additional £500m already added to the bill over the last two years.

But it isn’t all doom. With a budget that the Chancellor proclaimed being for those ‘who want to work and get on’, he increased the threshold for basic income tax to £10,000 and cut planned fuel duty rises and yesterday saw the announcement that parents would be able to claim back up to £1,200 per child of childcare costs. As a re...

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March 19, 2013

Sainsburys announce 33rd consecutive quarter of sales growth

Sainsburys today announced its 33rd consecutive quarter of sales growth contributing to a full year on year sales increase of 1.8% like for like excluding fuel. A strong Q4 at +3.6% LFL pushed sales higher than analysts expected, with record numbers of transactions at Christmas and strong spring seasonal events.

This result is largely driven by own brand, its continued growth in online sales and traffic through its growing convenience store estate. Where the consumer thinks twice about getting in the car or taking a bus to do the shopping, a convenience store matching the prices of the large out of town grocer is an easy decision to make...

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March 18, 2013

Footfall increases in February just in time for the Budget

Footfall was up in February by 0.8% year on year, the first positive result since December 2011. This is positive news for the High Street which delivered a 2.7%increase compared to shopping centres and out of town retail parks which declined year on year. However this time last year there was heavy snow so it is not surprising that footfall should be up on the High Street but down in out of town or shopping centres.

Couple this with the 2.7% like for like sales increase in February reported by BRC, conversion has also been positive. Hopefully the Chancellor won’t see this as a significant sign of recovery and decide to go ahead with the expected £175...

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March 14, 2013

Morrisons report 7% decline in pre-tax profits for 2012

Morrisons this morning reported a decline of 7% in it’s pre-tax profits for 2012 and a 2.1% decline in like for like sales, failing to build on promising changes made prior to Dalton Philips arrival. Strategically their focus has been on the vertical integration of the supply chain, a valuable point of difference given the current horse meat crisis but meanwhile, they have been very slow to deliver their promised convenience stores or an online grocery operation. Creating ‘a platform for successful long term growth’ is admirable Mr Philips, but at some point the platform should be built on. To ride out another challenging year in 2013...

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March 11, 2013

Tesco launch Instant Price Comparison Vouchers

Tesco have today launched their latest tactic in the Grocery wars, their instant price comparison vouchers, a price comparison promise that considers not only branded goods but also own brand and promotions. Tesco will give their customers an instant coupon at the till for the difference up to a value of £10 should their basket be more expensive than their rivals. The only conditions are that the basket must consist of at least 10 items, one of which must be comparable.

Three things occur to me. The first is the vast quantity of price data that Tesco’s will require in order for this offer to be operational - the price comparison algorithms, the huge m...

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March 6, 2013

Tenfold increase in store closures in 2012

The latest data compiled by the Local Data Company for Price Waterhouse Coopers reveals that store closures have accelerated in the UK to a rate of 28 per day averaged over three months to the end of February 2013. This following a year when 1779 stores closed compared to 174 in 2011. With multiple retailers including HMV, Clintons and Jessops going into administration in 2012, each with a high store count, the total is not surprising, but nonetheless it is a frightening statistic for surviving retailers, landlords and town planners alike.

The common factor threatening multiple retailers is the cost of operating multiple sites in an economic downturn – rent,...

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January 18, 2013

High Street Impacts

Since the New Year all the talk has been about the closures on the high street, the fact that not only small independents but large names are not able to make the high street viable. We all think misty eyed about the high street of the past and many ask if that will ever return. Our view is quite simple and although we are not in the blame game the cause of the downturn cannot be laid at the local councils and the internet fully. Retail-Remedy work hard in getting our clients to construct a Vision which projects where they feel there customers will be and where the retailer feels it will be able to meet them. Had we been doing this 5 years ago at Jessops I have no doubt that we would ha...

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January 9, 2013

UK retail consultants agree that Morrisons is in a muddle

UK retail consultants agree that Morrisons is in a muddle

The UK’s fourth largest supermarket, Morrisons, published its trading figures for the Christmas period on Monday and the consensus among UK retail consultants was that they were, well, a bit of a shambles. Morrisons’ like-for-like sales were down by 2.5%, which is pretty dire. I said in an article on the

October 3, 2012

Employment Law Update October 2012

Employment Law Update for this year, including October 2012 and the New Minimum Wages

· 1st Feb 2012

· Maximum limit of a weeks pay £430

· Unfair dismissal basic award & compensatory award £72,300

· Statutory Redundancy payment £12,900

· 1st April 2012

· Maternity, Paternity & adoption pay £135.45 per week

· 6th April 2012


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August 6, 2012

Moral Of The Story...Have Salesmen That Care!

Last week I set off on a mission to buy my son his first electric guitar. Like most people, our first port of call was the internet. After much trawling we knew the prices, availability and special offers available on anything from a Stratocaster copy to a genuine Les Paul Custom – however I knew nothing at all about the products themselves. We looked around a couple of higher end music shops with all the bells and whistles but we were clearly out of our depth and felt a little intimidated. So we started again by going back to the local company that supplied his first acoustic last year. I thought they probably wouldn’t be the cheapest, but I’d used them before.

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July 23, 2012

Fashion Deliveries Right to Your...Tent?

I have recently read that the well-established and ever growing group ‘Very’ have decided they’re going to push boundaries, taking retail to yet another level, by extending their delivery service to this year’s brave festival goers at V Fest’ in August.
Very, an online fashion store fronted by the very popular Holly Willoughby and Fern Cotton, are the official “fashion partners” for this year’s Virgin Festival and have revealed earlier this week, that not only have they designed a 50 piece ‘Festival Favorites’ capsule collection for the event but also plan on providing a collection service for all customers attending. On...

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June 12, 2012

Aurora launches PayPal mobile payments in-store

I was very excited to read about the new PayPal in store payment method launched at the end of May by the Aurora group, the head of names such as Oasis, Warehouse and Karen Millen. I do have a small soft spot for the company being an ex “KM” girl but this is truly great seeing the British high street shopping experience, take one huge leap in to the future of shopping!

So how does it work you ask. In a nut, when it’s time to make that ultimate decision and pay, simply turn to your Pay Pal PayPal “inStore app”, (available for Android and Apple iOS devices) which will then issue you a unique barcode and transaction number. The cashier is then able to...

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March 29, 2012

High Street Futures

High Street Futures
As more and more town centres reflect the fortunes of some large retail brands with fading facia boards on empty shops you have to ask how is it that some town centres are thriving and others are dying. Local councils are desperate to maintain a retail centre for their towns and the desire from the communities is one of similar support. How is it then that so many towns are unable to provide an attractive retail offer. Excuses abound from both the large retailers and independents of declining customer numbers and their disposable income spend, however looking at the large out of town retail shopping centres the numbers and spend still seems healthy.

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March 21, 2012

Sainsbury Results March 2012

• Total sales for 4th quarter up 4.6 %
• Like for like sales for 4th quarter up 2.5%
• Like for Like sales for the year up 4.5% (2.1% excluding fuel)
• 7.3% gross space growth in the year

The top line all sounds rather good and no doubt is being positioned as such by their dynamic and media savvy leader Justin King. Our view is perhaps a little more balanced. These figures have to be taken into the context of the current retail landscape and in this respect JS have rarely had it so good. They are head to head with Tesco more than any other retailer and we have all heard much of the trauma that has affected the largest UK...

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March 20, 2012

HRG Results March 2012

The recent results (15th March 2012) for HRGshow reasons for concern, something anticipated by all those who watch the high street and its operation. It is all well and good reflecting on the lack of sales and the pressured market in both its Homebase and Argos formats but if you wanted to know the reasons for their decline you really only have to look at their stores.

Homebase were gifted a much easier market place when Focus folded and with B & Q making hay whilst the sun shone it seems Homebase sat back and tried to improve the business efficiencies rather than tackling the route of their problem. They suffer in a similar fashion to Wickes, good marketing, some good prod...

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March 3, 2012

Should we be resentful of value retailers or should we learn from their business models?

As volume and value retailers continue to gain market share, is there really a future for retailers who are not able to compete on price or deliver a true point of difference to their customer?


Many articles have been written discrediting value retailers and the dominance they have within the market place, however, the simple fact is, love them or hate them customers are turning to them to deliver a better return on the money in their wallets. Is it therefore imperative to understand how t...

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March 3, 2012

Marks and Spencer - Times of opportunity or concern?

As Marks and Spencer announced a drop in UK like-for-like sales of 5.9%; with falls in GM and food at 6.9% and 5% respectively, how much time does Ian Dyson really have to implement the ‘2020’ change program that he has been tasked with?


Marks & Spencer’s UK sales have dropped by 1.7%, whilst its overall sales grew by 0.4%, thanks to the 25.9% increase in international sales. Last year, the adjusted profit before tax was £1.09bn whilst this year’s results see a drop to £768.9m.


The Board has taken the last six months to review the business and layout its long term strategy. Ian Dyson has been entru...

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March 3, 2012

Andy Bond President of Asda Wal-Mart gives a direct warning to retails on cost controls and understanding the changing face of consumers.

At the first Annual Retail Lecture conducted by the BRC (British Retail Consortium) Andy Bond President of Asda, discussed the changing landscape of retail and a shift in customer attitude towards value “There appear to be increasing signs that we may be at the bottom of the cycle and green shoots may be appearing. But don’t let this fool you. While consumers may be ready to shop again, the recession will have definitely created a good degree of long-term behaviour change.”


According to Bond, consumers are beginning to revaluate what and how they purchase; retailers will no longer be able to drive higher margins through so called ‘special...

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March 3, 2012

Is cost and price reduction the only way to survive within a recession?

Most retailers (who are still trading) have responded to the recession through cost reduction and margin improvement programmes, which, as a retail improvement consultancy we applaud, albeit with caveats.

As consumers become more restrictive on what and how they spend. Retailers, who invest in their brand through a recessionary period, have the opportunity to profit whilst others fail. It has been proved time and again that a strong brand is the most important asset a company has when recession strikes. In fact, retailers with strong brands can profit from recessions, as lesser companies turn inwards and fail to spend.

Look at Intel! Intel’s famou...

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March 3, 2012

Phil Dorrell joins Retail-Remedy as Lead Retail Consultant for Branding and Marketing.

Retail-Remedy Ltd today confirmed that Phil Dorrell has joined the team as Lead Retail Consultant for Branding and Marketing. The role hands Phil a wide remit within the business – including, supporting a number of the businesses key clients with their UK and International branding objectives.


The appointment, confirmed that a significant part of Phil’s role would be to ensure the continued development of Retail-Remedy’s service portfolio across all geographies. Phil Dorrell said: “I am delighted to be joining Retail-Remedy”…. “It is exciting to be with a company that is focused on supporting retailers deliver profit gr...

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March 3, 2012

Consumers and the Brand

After a retail strategy meeting, we sat Phil Dorrell down and asked him for his take on consumers’ focus on brand.


More and more, consumers look to the brand and its brand values for reassurance as to quality, security and value for money. Consumer spending will focus on ‘reason to buy’, not ‘impulse to buy’. The brand is the key element in the purchasing decision.


Brand awareness is desperately important but it’s not the whole story – in the States, everyone knows General Motors, trouble is no-one is buying their cars! Consumers are responding to brand differentiation – at...

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March 3, 2012

UK promotional retail strategies and their use

The Grocer recently wrote on the continuing use of promotions by the big grocery retailers and suggested that execution varied greatly. Their article entitled “Waitrose shines amid promotional shambles” rated Waitrose as the most professional on implementation and Asda the worst of the top 5. Our view at Retail-Remedy is somewhat different. As customers are becoming increasingly promiscuous, no longer is the nearest supermarket the obvious choice with press and TV advertising enticing people into bargains and creating a nation of cherry pickers. Safeway’s demise was in part due to their insistence in a high low retail pricing strategy that meant busy action alley Wedne...

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March 3, 2012

Striking the balance between Customer satisfaction and Employee Engagement...a priority for business?

People Management (http://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/pm/articles/2010/07/sainsburys-appoints-gwyn-burr-to-top-hr-role.htm) recently reported on Sainsbury’s decision to merge the HR Director and Customer Director roles at Board level which has raised some eyebrows in both the retail and HR communities. But should it? As retail experts we understand completely that the customer is king but for customers to feel that way, employee skill sets should be developed to reflect this, enabling the enhancement of the dialogue and experience between retailer and customer. Talent management, career planning and succession planning are all established processes in large companies but small busi...

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March 3, 2012

Emma Reed (ex-Asos.com exec) joins Retail-Remedy as Lead Buying and Merchandising consultant.

Retail-Remedy Ltd today confirmed that Emma Reed would be joining the team as Lead Consultant for Retail Buying and Merchandising. The role hands Emma a wide remit within the business – including, supporting a number of the businesses key clients with their UK and International Buying strategies.


The appointment, confirmed that a significant part of Emma’s role would be to ensure the continued development of Retail-Remedy’s service portfolio across all geographies. Emma Reed said: “I am delighted to be joining Retail-Remedy”…. “It is exciting to be with a company that is focused on supporting retailers deliver sustainab...

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March 3, 2012

Entering the Dragons' Den

At Retail-Remedy we are often asked if we can support people making presentations to retailers in order to get their product listed. Our experience with buying teams and new product development means we are well placed to offer the guidance that sees people make a success of their product. It is however not always straight forward and each product or concept needs to be viewed in-line with the retailer’s total range. That said good lines will always find a way if presented well.

We are very proud of the work we have done with Kirsty Henshaw, owner of Worthenshaws-freedom http://www.worthenshaws-freedom.co.uk/. Kirsty had a great product that she had worked hard to...

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March 3, 2012

Objective Strategy

Of all the overused and misunderstood terms there is little doubt that Strategy is the most often quoted. Retail-Remedy has worked with some large retailers who surprisingly would not be able to articulate their Strategy but have merely fallen into the business path on which they tread. Red faces have followed questions about the direction and they only get redder when asked about the customer imperatives that have guided that direction. Yet in truth Strategy should be one of the easiest things to do in business, small businesses started usually in a response to a perceived need, understanding the continuance and evolution of that need is fundamentally what Retail Strategy is.


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March 3, 2012

Mary Queen of Shops

During the month of January, we have been reflecting the challenges that the last year has given to many of our customers and how we can help them ensure the best possible year ahead.

Undoubtedly the Economic Climate has been tough for all and yet the difference between those who have floundered and those who have flourished is about their operation, more than global financial meltdown. The Christmas reports are littered with CEO’s suggesting the weather has cost them dear and gearing up for that New Year profits warning. There are also traders who have done themselves proud and despite increasing online competition, customers who are controlling a budget and inclement we...

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March 3, 2012

Retailers need to improve Customer Service Training to improve Customer Retention

In the current financial climate many Retailers and Service Providers are looking to make cutbacks or increase revenues, usually at the expense of the customer. One of the major cutbacks seems to be Customer Service Training, as Mary Portas has proved in her mission to bring good Customer Service back to the High Street.


When a customer interacts with your business face to face, phone, website or e mail are they merely satisfied or delighted by the service they receive? Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to make a difference and surprise the customer by not just meeting their needs but exceed their expectations. Investing in Retail Training of s...

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March 1, 2012

Loyalty to Retailers - you are either a chip shop or a hairdresser

Retail Advice

I tweeted some time ago that Retailers can be categorised into two types depending on how customers see them and use them, clearly I exaggerate to make a point however in essence the principle is true, if you are a Retailer you are either a chip shop or a hairdresser!


Most of will be familiar to moving to a new town and trying to work out where the best chip shop is located, usually this means that some of the early visits are not as good as you wanted and you quickly move on to the chip shop with the huge queue outside on a Friday tea time. You are persuaded by the improved quality and/or service an...

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March 1, 2012

Format Development: Small and Beautiful?

As availability for supermarket new build becomes limited and increasingly expensive it is no surprise that both Asda and Morrisons look toward small Format Development in order to continue footage growth. Asda, who are no stranger to Format Development for small stores, sold 16 of the original 195 Netto stores to it’s Yorkshire rival for £28.1M.  With only 47 of the 195 having to be sold on, Asda clearly need to get their format working as it has never done before and we loo...

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March 1, 2012

Small Format Development News

Can the four leading supermarkets use their Format Development to expand in an increasingly contested market place?


As Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons fight for customers this summer it seems that some of these leviathans are better placed than others to make the best use of their Format Development and expand in an increasingly contested market place. Tesco have all the options to open in any market and have reaped the reward of a well-developed Format Development strategy that has been much publicised. Sainsburys have a similar if not as compelling offer and have small store experience in the ranks fro...

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