Retail Insider Breakfast with Andy Hornby

Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Andy Hornby, CEO of Coral, highlighting the similarities and differences involved in running multi-channel retail and leisure businesses.


Andy Hornby in full flow

With senior executive experience at both Asda and Alliance Boots as well as at his current position heading up one of the UK’s leading gaming companies with 1,800 shops and a growing online business Hornby was well placed to give insights into the challenge of developing a multi-channel operation.

Senior retailers from Sainsbury’s, Hobbycraft, Hobbs,  Naked Wines and Schuh were among the attendees at the event held at the Gilbert Scott restaurant within the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel who heard how Hornby is grappling with growing the stores base in the UK and managing the online operation that is based in Gibraltar.


Like other major gaming companies Coral based its internet business on the island for tax reasons, which has helped it grow with an entrepreneurial spirit. But the challenge today is running the two channels together as a multi-channel operation.

These challenges at Coral chime with high street retailers. One specific area the two sectors are dealing with is recruitment. Hornby highlighted that the need for such a broad range of people in the business has made it very tough to recruit and hold on to people – such is the demand for the skills of the digital-savvy individuals within the industry.

The other changing dynamic of the gaming sector – that is potentially impacting retail too –  is marketing and advertising. The distribution of the budgets within these areas are being affected by the promiscuous nature of the customer base who increasingly use price comparison sites.

What was also revealing was the way the online customer base of Coral has shifted to using mobile and tablets, where growth is explosive, whereas PC-based transactions have begun to stall.

Complementary to this are the Coral shops, whose numbers are growing, and where work continues to be done by Hornby and his team on integrating them with the online operation. It’s a challenge common to all players in the leisure and retail sectors.

Many thanks go to K3 Retail and Webloyalty whose support made this Retail Insider Event possible.

Also gratitude to Utobeer of Borough Market for helping supply their Tap East ‘Coffee in the Morning’ beer.