David Walmsley, director, M&S.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? How we join together the physical and digital experiences of M&S for our customers. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? For the digital channels, the challenge remains being obsessive about listening to our customers and then turning the insight…

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Pret A Manger is a pretty successful business as evidenced by its recent results that showed it enjoying strong sales growth of 16% for 2014 – it has been in the double-digits annually for some years. But like any decent business the company continues to challenge itself in order that it does not go stale…

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The Name: Cannibal NYC The Place: New York City The Story: This is the tale of how you can buy a unit with one purpose in mind only to find it hijacked by the customer who has quite different ideas about what they want you to do with it. Cannibal is a B&B with a…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Gillian Drakeford, country manager for UK & Ireland at IKEA, and Bertrand Bodson, chief digital officer at Home Retail Group, who discussed the future of the physical store. Senior executives from John Lewis, The White Stuff, TM Lewin, The Entertainer, Cook and Farfetch were among…

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  All new bosses look to make their mark early in their tenures at the top but it is questionable whether some of their more radical moves are always relevant. Are they sometimes merely making changes for changes sake. The decision by new Kingfisher CEO Véronique Laury to rejig her top team’s responsibilities and restructure…

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  Alison Lancaster, interim marketing director, McArthurGlen Group 1. What is the greatest opportunity for retail businesses? To digitally transform their businesses in order to better serve customers anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Digital transformation will be a brand differentiator and essential ‘enabler’ for retailers (new and old) to compete and win on a global scale. This…

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  Furniture is bulky, it’s not a particularly frequent purchase, and arguably such high value items require a bit of touching-and-feeling before customers commit to making a purchase.   This suggests the category is not particularly well suited to online transactions. Not so it seems as there has certainly been some action in this area…

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  The Name: Audi The Place: Very selected showrooms: Piccadilly in London and also Beijing and Berlin. The Story: So the thing with selling cars is this – they’re big and you can’t get many into a small showroom and the rents on a large city showroom would be astronomical. And then, oh dear, you…

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  Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Easter is almost upon us and the big action in the retail sector is without doubt happening in the gardening sector. Apparently we…

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Retailers might well be adapting at a rapid rate in order to keep up with digital trends but they can at least console themselves with the fact consumers the world over all seem to have the same requirements. The over-arching demand is for convenience. From Australia to China via Russia they all want shopping to…

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  Bargain Booze reclaims the top spot as the best performing UK drinks website this month while The Wine Society crashes down the ranked table, according to tests conducted on the online stores of the top drinks sellers in March exclusively for Retail Insider by online specialist Sitemorse. The value operator moved up four places…

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Guest international Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers Q&A:   Nadia Shouraboura, founder, Hointer  1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Definitely to unleash the power of in-store shopping by bringing the best of online technologies to physical stores. It’s a great opportunity for Hointer and for my fellow retailers. While with Amazon, for many…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Innovations in ubiquitous click & collect Everybody has to offer a delivery option nowadays it seems. Before the internet hit the retail scene home…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Raise a glass to successful beer retailers As painful as it is to see that beer sales in my beloved pub industry have been…

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The Name: Community Shop backed by parent company Company Shop. The Place: Two locations currently, Barnsley up north and Gypsy Hill in South London. But you have to be a deprived area to get one so be careful what you wish for. The Story: Actually I’m sure it would be very nice to have a…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Peter Williams, chairman of Boohoo.com and Alan White, chairman of Hotter Shoes, who discussed the issue of bringing a digital mindset to retail businesses. Senior executives from Tesco, Sweaty Betty, Wyevale Garden Centres, Cook and Muddy Boots were among those who heard how they both…

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Neil Sansom, omni-channel director, Moss Bros 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Development of our single customer view across all our channels and between our retail and hire businesses. Hire is probably what Moss Bros is well known for but it represents less than 20% of the business. Customers tend not to…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Value retailers’ popularity now perennial A few years back at the start of the recession Sir Terry Leahy suggested the discount retailers were enjoying…

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Retail Insider has waded into the debate about the term omni-channel before – siding with the camp that think it’s a redundant term. Our belief has been that it was merely invented by consultants and other ‘knowledge providers’ as the next solution to sell because they’d wrung all they could out of multi-channel. In reality…

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  Paul Coby, IT director, John Lewis 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? To test the boundaries of omni-channel retailing, all the while listening to what it is the customer wants and needs. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? To manage effectively the amount of technology enabled change we…

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Bargain Booze consolidated its position at the top of the table of the best performing UK drinks websites this month, according to tests conducted on the online stores of the top 25 drinks sellers in January by testing specialist Sitemorse. The company scored 8.28 out of 10 compared with 7.56 in December, which puts it…

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The Name: Gekås Ullared The Place: Tiny village of Ullared near Falkenberg on the west coast of Sweden The Story: We’ll start with a quiz. What in your estimation might be the top tourist attraction in Sweden in terms of visitor numbers? Ah, The Abba Experience centre: Nope. Wait. The Absolut Vodka distillery tour: Not…

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Is Shop Direct the real hero of UK e-commerce? Lots of retailers selling online have been held up as the next big thing in the sector – particularly in Shop Direct’s fashion category – I’m thinking of Asos, Boohoo, and even Burberry off the top of my head. But not really Shop Direct. These others…

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Today’s myriad customer journeys have made things so complicated for retailers. Where once it was simply a case of customers walking into a shop and buying the product, we now have numerous channels that have created a complex web of touch-points for retailers to manage. Speaking at Retail’s Big Show, organised by NRF, in New…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. For something as simple as a bit of folded card with an image on the front and some words inside, greetings cards have looked…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Logistics escaping its volume trap Logistics is so much about volumes – as City Link knows all too well. Yet many firms will try…

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Joel Palix, CEO, Feelunique 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Our greatest opportunity is to build our core UK market. It is the fastest growing economy in Europe with a booming beauty business growing by 6% a year and the most-advanced e-commerce market too. Feelunique is the leading premium beauty online retailer in UK, growing above 30% a year. We want to…

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The Name: Wholefoods Market The Place: America (all over the place) and the UK (a lot fewer but spreading fast-ish). The Story: Innovation is in the DNA of the Wholefoods business – these after all are the people who pretty much invented the category of organic, health and ethics-filled shopping. Give me a product… Lentils:…

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Consumers’ appetite for multichannel retail is posing many challenges to merchants and brand owners, but one thing they are all certain of is the increased power of digital channels. Over time they have also become aware of the need to not only improve how their product data is structured online – but also to better…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Travel retail going places It does not seem too long ago that stations and airports provided among the worst retail experiences for shoppers –…

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In almost 20 years of commenting on the retail sector the past week has been one of the least enjoyable. The reason for this is the dark cloud that Black Friday has cast over the industry. Firstly, it has been the level of bandwagon jumping by retailers, service providers, research houses, commentators, and media channels,…

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Fundamentally, pop-up shops are about creating an experience that allows you to connect with customers in a physical space and communicate your brand message. When you are a newly launched brand, the clarity of that message is crucial. Your first pop-up is also the first face-to-face impression you will create with the press and customers,…

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Melissa Shackleton, head of marketing, Hotel Chocolat 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Hotel Chocolat is a multi-faceted, dynamic brand with numerous opportunities. Our vertical business model means that we can be developing new strains of cocoa on our cocoa estate at the same time as conjuring up new cocoa cuisine recipes in…

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The Name: Rent The Runway The Place: Headquartered in New York and currently only operating in the United States with a small army of campus reps drumming up business in their core graduate student market. Grab ‘em young. The Story: Two young female business graduates and a lot of taffeta. There are all kinds of…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Retailers must answer the ‘why buy?’ question Retail is not only undergoing a digital revolution – with sales moving from physical stores to online…

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As Aldi looks to increase its range of products and add extra services in order to secure a greater average basket size and attract a broader mix of consumers it runs the risk of complicating its business (see earlier column). The simplicity of its limited range and basic utilitarian customer offering is a key component…

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  Chris Griffin, founder of Anatwine 1.What is the greatest opportunity for your business? To perfect the methodology of stock management and merchandising in order to drive increased revenues, profits and customer satisfaction, without increasing stock liabilities. 2.What is the biggest challenge to your business? Managing the different ways different organisations categorise their data. A…

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The Name: AO.com The Place: Headquartered in Bolton and what headquarters they are… but more of that later. The Story: In 1999 John Roberts thought he would shake up the selling of white goods good and proper. So he did. And everyone was happy. The end. It’s a bit short this week isn’t it. Can…

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It’s been 14 years since I had the most productive pint of my career, the one I was drinking with a colleague when we came up with “Click and Collect” as a name to define an idea that seemed mad to most observers. The idea was to let customers reserve something online and to then…

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These are transformational times for the grocery industry and the travails and challenges of the big supermarkets were laid bare at the recent IGD Convention in London. It has been the case that the big multiples have over the years continued to add complexity to their businesses as they have brought in extra services, added…

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  Retail Insider asks members of the Digital Retail Innovations 2014 report (sponsored by Webloyalty) Advisory Panel to take a close look at a specific innovation within the report.  Paul Wilkinson, head of technology research at Tesco Labs, peers through the lens to investigates Google Glass. 1. How innovative is Google Glass? There aren’t many…

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The Name: Sourced Market The Place: For now only in the capital with the flagship in St Pancras station but there are several others in the pipeline including a site near Victoria station for 2016 and leases on the table for two others. All other sites are under wraps. If I told you I’d have…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer and beer: Schneider Weisse – Tap 5 Meine Hopfen-Weisse Strength: It’s hard to believe it is as strong as 8.2%. It’s much too subtle to make its power obvious. First impressions: Relaxed and easygoing but has underlying complexity. Has a…

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Retail Insider held its latest Event this week – with a combined English Wine Tasting and talk by John Bovill, IT and e-commerce director at Monsoon Accessorize – that highlighted the challenges of both increasing the acceptance/awareness of English wines and taking retailers on the multi-channel journey. Senior executives from Tesco, Waitrose, HMV, and Dobbies…

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Yossi Erdman, head of brand & social media, AO.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The biggest opportunity for our business is to change the expectations people have when shopping for electricals. Rather than experiencing painful customer service, they should expect and receive quite the opposite. This includes great web content, free…

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The Name: Makers Café The Place: Shoreditch (for now). The Story: We’re hot off the mark on this one. This place has only been around for a fortnight or so but such has been the interest…   Go right ahead. OK, I give you ‘the myth of manufacturing’ – making things is hard, dirty work.…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 8:00am Friday Apr 18 – Back to it with a jolt After the quiet summer period it’s time to…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Windsor & Eton Brewery Beer:  Conqueror 1075 Black IPA Strength: Very full bodied 7.4%. Don’t get on the wrong side of it. Conditioning: Has a soft carbonation but despite appearances this is not flabby in any way. First impressions: Looks…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Sir Ian Cheshire, group CEO of Kingfisher, who suggested the retail industry is on the cusp of a major acceleration in the use of digital channels by consumers who are increasingly utilising mobiles and enhanced internet connections. Senior executives from Tesco, Marks & Spencer, TM…

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Retail Insider and K3 bring you a monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. Downsizing on the up Downsizing is definitely the name of the game today as the move towards multi-channel continues to force retailers to re-assess…

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Neil Ashworth, CEO, CollectPlus 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? When e-commerce first came to the fore, the accessibility and sophistication of a retailer’s website was the key to gaining competitive advantage. Now, with most of the UK’s major retail brands providing a digital commerce offering of some kind, the battleground for gaining…

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The Name: BrewDog The Place: Headquartered in Scotland (Ellon is the main bit with the original site in Fraserburgh used as the test bed for beers) but bars and shops are scattered all over the globe. The Story: Here at Retail Insider we like a company who shakes things up… Yeah, shakes things up: A…

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For around seven years the high street has been thought of as doomed, yet recent evidence suggests that this is not the case; the high street is changing, and our town centres may be able to compete once more with out-of-town developments and online competition. Though many high streets across the UK are still fighting…

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There has possibly been too much focus on price by TM Lewin that has detracted from the quality of the products it sells, admits TM Lewin CEO Geoff Quinn. In an interview with Retail Insider he says the company still very much believes in its heavily used multi-buys that feature the likes of ‘4 shirts…

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Retail Insider and K3 Retail bring you the first in a new monthly column taking a look at some of the most pertinent and interesting topics of the day in the big wide world of retail. What role the hypermarket overseas? The woes of Tesco have certainly been well aired over recent months and the…

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In a new regular series we ask members of the Advisory Panel of the ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations 2014’ report (sponsored by Webloyalty) to take a look at some specific innovations within the report. First up is Craig Smith, e-commerce programme manager, Marks & Spencer, who casts his eye over Argos’ digital stores: 1. How innovative…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Fuller’s Past Masters XX Strength: Rich and powerful 7.5%. Conditioning: Has always turned out well when looked after. First impressions: Pleasant aroma with slight spiciness. The strength is evident but it’s well balanced with only modest bitterness. After-taste: Generally leaves…

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John Browett, chief exectutive of Monsoon/Accessorize 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Monsoon Accessorize is already an international business. Over half our retail sales and profits come from outside the UK. But, there is much more to do, particularly for Accessorize. If we could just get to the same market penetration we…

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The Name: Hointer The Place: Not here. America. Seattle mainly. The Story: This is a tale of a woman who opens shops to sell things, anything, because she is interested in how she can sell stuff more efficiently rather than in what she sells. But beware you need a smart-phone or you are sunk. Curious:…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Geoff Quinn, CEO of TM Lewin extolling the virtues of the product above all else as he has taken the clothing firm from less than 10 stores to 150 global outlets. Senior executives from retailers including Boodles, Monsoon Accessorize, Dobbies Garden Centres, Thomas Pink and…

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Google Glass grabbed the top spot in the first annual ‘Retail Insider Digital Retail Innovations’ report but it is logistics solutions and mobile payments that feature most prominently as innovations predicted to have the greatest impact on the retail industry. The top 10 of the report includes DPD ‘Follow My Parcel’, InPost London Underground Lockers…

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Something pretty dramatic has been happening in the world of retail over the past few weeks. No, it’s not the supermarket price wars and neither is it the large number of IPOs the sector has been witnessing. It’s the change in management organisations at the some of the largest retailers to recognise the role of…

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While channel hopping between Glastonbury, Brazil v Chile, and Wimbledon – a true ‘quality of life’ evening – I enjoyed a bottle of Brown Sauce (here’s the background on the brew). Here’s my thoughts: I have avoided drinking beer with ‘brown’ in the name since a degree-threatening night consuming numerous pints of Newcastle Brown at…

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Regular Insider readers will know that beer regularly finds its way into the posts on this website and no apology is to be made for its frequent incursions because the editor Glynn Davis has a strong affinity with the product. This interest has manifested itself in Wales-based Brains Brewery recently inviting him to brew a…

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You don’t need Retail Insider to tell you that older shoppers are the grouping with the most disposable income in their pockets. While young people and those in the middle – with families and mortgages stretching their finances – are strapped for cash, it is their parents and grand-parents that are living it up, with…

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Orlando Martins, founder, Oresa 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?  To further our reputation as a leading builder of top performing retail boardrooms. We love seeing what’s possible and being a critical part of our clients’ strategic success. For us, there is no better feeling than having put in a team that…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 7:30am Monday Mar 1 – All systems go we’re told After at least two weeks of making contact with…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Edwina Dunn, co-founder of Dunnhumby  and now a director of Starcount, talking data, customer insight and loyalty programmes. Senior executives from retailers of varying sizes including Marks & Spencer, New Look,  Farfetch, John Lewis and Muddy Boots were among those who heard the pioneer of…

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The Name: Muddy Boots The Place: That throbbing metropolitan centre – Crouch End, N8 And? That’s it. Just N8. Don’t worry, it’s going to get bigger. We’re just telling you about it early so you can look smug later when there are lots of them. I didn’t know there was so much demand for wellies…

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Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beers for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Beavertown Brewery, London Beer: Bloody ‘Ell Blood Orange IPA Strength: 7.2%, pretty chunky. Label: Pretty scary on first sight. First impressions: Full-on, packs a punch. Not easily forgotten. Conditioning: Smart head that holds its own against any of the competition.…

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Bargain Booze maintains its position as the UK’s best performing drinks retail websites as it delivers a stronger performance than last month, according to tests conducted on the top 25 UK drinks retailers for April. The Conviviality Retail-owned business improved on the 7.56 out of 10 it achieved last month with a score of 8.28…

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Ning Li, CEO, Made.com  1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Scalability. Last year we launched the business in France and it has done incredibly well, now accounting for 20% of the total business. This success gave us the confidence to launch in Italy in September 2013, which is already doing well with…

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Some very worrying research passed across the Retail Insider desk recently that highlights the rough position many retailers find themselves in today. When you get around 65% of senior executives stating that digital technology has not changed the way they do business, according to research from search firm Executives Online, then maybe it is time…

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The Name: Country Food & Dining The Place: Mainly in the south east, there are currently eight outlets in places like Chichester, Winchester, Basingstoke, and Reading with the flagship branch near Hungerford. The story: Bow your heads. There is a man so hallowed in brewing circles that a mere mention of his name will bring…

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In a new regular column Retail Insider scours the globe to find the perfect beer for retail’s top executives. Brewer: Moorhouse’s, Burnley, NW England Strength: Easygoing low alcoholic 3.4%. Style: Dark Mild. But for a low strength beer it packs plenty of punch in flavour terms. Label: What you see is what you get. Traditional in style.…

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The Name: Dressipi The Place: Well, as so often in innovative retail it is an online set up, but there are reports of around 14 people working in an office in Great Portland Street, London. The story: It’s women, it’s fashion, and it’s technology. But not necessarily in that order. In fact I would put…

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Conviviality Retail-owned Bargain Booze has hit the top spot in the table of the UK’s best performing drinks retail websites, pushing top-end merchant Fortnum & Mason into second place, according to tests conducted on the top 25 UK drinks retailers for April. Bargain Booze delivered a dramatically improved score this month of 7.56 out of…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast event this week with John Bovill, IT & e-commerce director at Monsoon/Accessorize, and Sam Barton, head of user experience at Shop Direct Group, discussing how to drive innovation in retail businesses. Senior retailers from the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrison’s, Laithwaites Wines and Aurora Fashions along with other high…

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1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? As customers become more accustomed to internet shopping, retailers are looking to differentiate their home delivery service and significantly improve that part of the customer experience. We’ve invested heavily in technology, people and infrastructure to position ourselves as the delivery company of choice for e-tailers and…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 12:30pm Tuesday Feb 4 – Private equity for lunch? As described in my previous column, the owner of the innovative…

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Primark continues to deliver strong performances from its stores and as such its growth strategy remains wholly wedded to opening more big stores. For a fast fashion business that sells to a young demographic – the digital natives – this is surely highly questionable. This group of shoppers are increasingly choosing to shop online and…

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Fortnum & Mason is the best performing online drinks retailer in the UK for the first time following tests conducted on the top 25 UK drinks retailers for March. The luxury goods retailer hit the top spot, edging out long-standing leader The Whisky Shop, in the ranked table of the top UK drinks retailers’ websites…

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The Name: Curzon Cinemas The Place: Most people think of it as a London-based chain which is not unreasonable with six venues in the capital (including the very-soon-to-open Victoria, SW1 unit) but actually it would really like to show films and sell beer to the rest of the population too so after Stafford, Knutsford and…

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What will the role of the store be in the future? The conclusion in many quarters of the retail industry is that it will involve a much richer personal experience fuelled by lashings of in-store technology. During this transformation the physical space in the store will flex and change to adapt to new channels such…

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Jonathon Brown, chief executive, M+M Direct 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? There are opportunities all over the place for us to expand and grow. For example, one we are driving hard is our international roll out strategy. We’re in the UK and four other core markets at present and we’ll be…

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It is proving to be a buoyant time for retail IPOs with massive excitement around the Ao.com and Boohoo flotations. What has most excited investors are the stratospheric valuations placed on these online-only businesses. The multiples attached to them will have also caught the attention of established retailers who must be looking on with serious…

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The Name: Appear Here The Place: Omnipresent in that it lets out retail space all over the country but if you want to be pedantic about it, headquartered in Hoxton, East London and run by a small team of around 10 staff. The story: The founder of Appear Here is so young, it’s not even…

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There are enlightened individuals in every retailer in the land who will recognise that the journey from simply running stores to operating a seamless multi-channel business is very painful and extremely long (and getting longer it seems). What it also requires is support and commitment from the very top. The big problem here is that…

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The websites of the UK’s largest supermarkets delivered a strong performance in February when tested among the top 25 UK drinks retailers, with Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco  all delivering improvements on last month. Asda moved up five places, Tesco four places, and Sainsbury’s six places in the ranked table of the top UK drinks retailers’…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event on Friday with Simon Calver, outgoing CEO of Mothercare, who highlighted just how challenging his role had been, having landed at a business that was behind the multi-channel game. Senior executives from a variety of retailers including Tesco, WH Smith, Just-Eat, eBay, Aurora Fashions and Monsoon/Accessorize attended the…

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Seven UK brewers have earned a place in the Top 100 World’s best brewers list compiled by the well regarded RateBeer website. Congratulations are in order to BrewDog, Buxton, Fuller’s, Magic Rock, Oakham, The Kernel and Thornbridge who have achieved the honour of being listed among some of the world’s most illustrious and cutting-edge brewers…

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Andrew Livingston, CEO, Screwfix 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Our growth programme provides the greatest opportunity to expand our offering. Screwfix currently has a store network of over 300, with 60 new openings planned for 2014. We are also building our EU shipping service and will assess the success of our…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 6:30pm Tuesday Nov 19 – The customer is not always right it seems I’m at Novikov restaurant in central…

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The Name: ASOS The Place: No shops, of course, but head office is in scruffily trendy Camden Town and fulfilment is up in Barnsley which is probably just scruffy. The story: Who would found a fashion company aimed predominantly at 18-34 year old women? – Two (almost getting on for) middle-aged men of course. It’s…

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Since Ocado signed its licensing deal with Morrison’s the financial footings and reputations of both organisations have diverged somewhat. Prior to the deal last year the Ocado business model was still being aggressively questioned by City analysts and its share price was sitting at 199p – on May 17 . The arrangement pushed the shares…

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Russia has been seen as a big opportunity for UK retailers but the door looks to be closing on this market for e-commerce companies as new restrictions on delivery windows into the country are set to come into effect on January 29. Retailers have enjoyed an unlimited number of clearances each day for goods entering…

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Andy Harding, executive director of multi-channel. House of Fraser  1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Converting store-only loyalty card customers into multi-channel customers. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? Keeping up with the pace of growth in multi-channel sales – from both an internal perspective (i.e. systems, process, infrastructure,…

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The term ‘wardrobing’ is a little like friendly fire – a lot more dangerous than it sounds. Neither is harmless and cuddly. We’ve written about this issue on Retail Insider before (link to article from Nov) and it is a problem that hits all retailers, but especially those selling via catalogue or online, as they…

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The Name: Ocado The Place: Well, mainly in two places with lots of other little bits sort of attached if you see what I mean. Not really: The two full-on warehouses with all the whizzbang technology are in Hertfordshire and Warwickshire but then there are 11 ‘spoke’ sites around the country. Head office is also…

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While shopping for Christmas and experimenting with the click & collect services of various retailers (see relevant article here) Retail Insider came across one of the most bizarre merchandising practices ever. And it wasn’t from some tin-pot merchant but from the biggest beast in the UK retail jungle Tesco. Here’s what happened when we attempted…

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Click & collect is the potential saviour of the high street store. Or so many multi-channel retailers would like to think. Some even appear to have fully convinced themselves that this is the case. While such a service undoubtedly adds great value to some stores, those retailers with many hundreds of outlets will not be…

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It might not be the king of the jungle (yet) but Denmark-based home-wares retailer Tiger Stores is rapidly expanding its footprint around the globe and bringing greater professionalism to the discount end of the market. Speaking to Retail Insider recently Lennart Lajboschitz, founder of Tiger Stores, suggested: “When we started in 2005 I thought the…

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Matt Henderson, co-founder, Rangespan 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Predicting the future, specifically we predict which products will succeed online and which won’t out of the 200 million unique products available on the internet. To do this across such a wide range we need to track and make sense of a…

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Having launched with a great fanfare, the innovative website Morrisons Cellar has performed disappointingly during December, in the ranked table of the UK’s leading drinks retailing websites, which follows declines in previous months. When the dedicated Morrisons site for wine launched in June it placed in 15th spot in the table but it has since…

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Welcome to a new monthly column the ‘Data Insider Insight’ double-bill that gives the Top 10 best selling books on the Amazon Market Place in the UK as well as a changing table of 10 ‘under-the-radar’ products – beginning with toys this month. Data supplied by Research Farm reveals that the top 10 books for…

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The Name: Timpson The Place: Little tiny outlets all over the UK, providing those useful old-fashioned services like key cutting, cobbling, dry cleaning, house sign engraving. Around 1,020 in all but doing so well it should/could be 1,500 before you know it. The Story: Quick question – if you wanted your precious house door keys…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 9:00am Wednesday Nov 13 – Failed to make changes The major new US client I discussed in my last…

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Recently Tesco celebrated the 17th birthday of the launch of its online service. Since then much has happened. Tesco has become the undisputed king of online grocery retailing with revenues of more than £2.5 billion, more than twice the sales of the closest competitor. When Tesco talks about the online channel, others listen carefully. However,…

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Independent online drinks specialist Slurp continues to move up the table of the UK’s leading drinks retailing websites, with a climb of four places in November, which marks a major recovery from its lowly position around the time of its administration in June. The company has languished as low as 20th in the table but…

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Tanya Lawler, vice president of UK Trading, eBay 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? I see the greatest opportunities coming from emerging trends – especially the rising demand for both utility and engagement. At eBay we’ve been working to bring together the best bits of these two elements to help buyers and…

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Far too many companies are making the mistake of asking themselves what data they have in their business and then how they can use it? Customer insight pioneer Edwina Dunn, co-founder of Humby and Dunn – previously creator of Dunnhumby, reckons this is a mistake and suggests it is all about going out and looking…

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The Name: Aldi The Place: 500th store in the UK has just opened in posh old Bury St Edmunds of all places. The Aldi group also operates all over Europe and in the US and Australia. The Story: Well, this one is really a tale of two cities or rather two brothers in one city…

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Ebay’s desire to work more closely with retailers has led to a change at the top of the organisation with Tanya Lawler taking over the running of the UK arm from Clare Gilmartin who leaves the business. Former Sainsbury’s digital and cross-channel director Lawler joined eBay in October 2012 with lots of ideas that sought…

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Managing growth, by attracting new customers, is this mystical thing in the retail industry and is something that is pitching marketing managers into more of the role of growth managers. The big question they have to answer today is how do they grow the number of customers coming into their businesses? They know the success…

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It’s a problem that is not going away. Returns are causing an ongoing headache for retailers – especially those operators plying their trade at the fashion end of things and without a stores presence. Right at the epicentre of this is Asos. Its position in the market implies that it will be a victim of…

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All industries are full of their acronyms and useless words and none more so than the IT sector. One of the most annoying to have appeared is omni-channel, which the software industry has helped foist upon the retail industry. Where once there was multi-channel now there is omni-channel. Supposedly it is the step-on from multi-channel…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] Mid-July – Everything’s gone quiet The nature of my world – and you cannot do anything about it –…

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Harry Briggs, principal, Balderton Capital 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business as an investor in the retail/consumer-focused sector? We don’t look for opportunities, so much as great, visionary entrepreneurs.  When we meet an entrepreneur who’s identified an opportunity that others have overlooked, and we believe the entrepreneur has the talent and energy…

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When you think of apps your mind is undoubtedly filled with consumer-facing applications that make life easier and more entertaining. But what we’ve yet to see, certainly in anger, is the use of apps for business-focused activities. But it is starting to happen and the potential for it to impact greatly on the retail sector…

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Major supermarkets continue to under-perform online compared with the websites of other merchants selling beers, wines and spirits, in the table of the UK’s leading drinks retailing websites for October. The big guns of UK grocery retailing Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are all placed in the bottom half of the…

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Apple has been in the news recently with the CEO of Burberry taking on the role of head of retail stores and online, which was previously held by John Browett who lasted only six months and now heads up Monsoon/Accessorize. This slightly tarnished the reputation of Browett, which is unfortunate because when you take a…

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The Name: Tiger The Place: 250+ stores across 19 countries, 24 of which are in the UK. And before you ask there is no online trading and I will thank you to remember that The Story: Tiger, Tiger burning (very) bright – what a success story this Danish chain begun in Copenhagen actually is. Whatever…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast event this week with Simon Russell, director of retail operations development at John Lewis, and Tatiana Fokina, CEO of Hedonism Wines, discussing the evolving role of the store in a multi-channel world. Senior retailers from the likes of House of Fraser, Laithwaites Wine, New Look, and Wayfair along with…

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One of the greatest attributes of the internet is that it helps bring together groups of people who are willing to contribute to a common cause. The likes of Wikipedia sprang up as a direct result of this phenomenon called crowdsourcing. With this idea of outsourcing work to a crowd of ‘workers’ now clearly proven…

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Apparently the pure-play retailer has had its day. This was one of the memorable points made by Jacques-Antoine Granjon the inspirational and maverick founder of Vente Privee at the World Retail Congress (WRC) in Paris. Try telling that to the AO.com (formerly known as Appliances Online) that has garnered massive praise from customers, rapidly rising…

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Gracia Amico, e-commerce director, Hobbs 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? International. Although we deliver to 50 countries from our website and have concessions in various countries, we have a very busy time ahead focusing on international expansion. We have just launched our German website and are three weeks away from launching…

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‘Magalogues’ is a clunky term that I really didn’t think I’d hear again. It was frequently bandied around in the early 1990s by mail order companies who liked the idea of mixing attractive editorial content with their products. It didn’t really work as the cost of printing these magalogues, with their non-revenue-generating column inches, was…

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Premium bottled beers continue to see rising sales and within this category the beers from smaller craft breweries are enjoying spectacular growth. The market for these beers continues to grow alongside increased brewery numbers and the universe of pubs that stock such beers maintains its upward trajectory. The younger male drinker is at the forefront…

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The Name: Zulily The Place: It’s online, don’t you know. But operating mainly in the US, where it has 10 million members, and the UK. The Story: As if your children didn’t already have every luxury money could buy, they can now also have designer wear/toys/nursery furniture at a fraction of the price. Launched in…

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The Retail Insider Multi-channel / E-commerce Movers & Shakers Top 100 report for 2013 has been published. Its core aim is celebrating the achievements of the most influential people in this exciting part of the retail market and to also bring greater attention to the potential stars of the future. There remains great fluidity in…

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Online sales are growing. Fact. Store sales are falling as a percentage of total retail revenues. Fact. So why is that we still have many retailers who have failed to grasp the potential of online sales? Many do not have transactional websites, many do not have mobile-optimised sites, many do not allow goods to be…

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Graham Cooke, CEO, QuBit 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The greatest opportunity lies in the increasing realisation by retailers that data is the key to better business performance. Retailers have been collecting on- and off-line data for years and now they’re putting real effort into extracting value from it. That data…

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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. 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…

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The Name: Walthamstow Village Stores The Place: London, E17 – where else? The Story: Long before Walthamstow had a ‘village’ James Brundle and his brother Chris (now the chef in the business) used to walk past an unloved and rundown off licence on the Orford Road. Ah, a common tale of neglect and urban retail…

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Bill Grimsey is  the latest person to wade into the debate about the future of the high street – joining Mary Portas of course. His report highlights the potential solutions to addressing the demise of this once great shopping forum. The only solution might be to convert the high street to an aeroplane runway because…

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Innovation and entrepreneurialism are increasingly necessary in the world of retail – as companies need to adopt the most efficient ways of working and also create some differentiation from their competitors. So much is happening to create efficiencies through the likes of outsourcing and globalisation that retailers simply have to be involved. And in these…

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The top five best performing retailers in the table of the UK’s leading drinks retailing websites made a break-away from the rest of the pack with their increased scores in August compared with last month. The top five all improved their performances, including top placed The Whisky Shop that achieved a score of 7.46 out…

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Chris Morton, CEO, Lyst 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The last ten years have been about proving that people will buy fashion online and changing the consumer mindset, done by moving offline retail models, like department stores and flash sales, online. The next ten years will be about totally new ways…

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The Name: The shop at the London Transport Museum The Place: The throbbing heart of the Metropolis – otherwise known as the old flower market at Covent Garden, WC2. The Story: The shop attached to the London Transport Museum is a mecca for… Wait! A museum shop – this is a joke right? Let me…

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Eagle-eyed readers of Retail Insider might well have noticed that the site has undergone something of a change this week. Moving to a new platform will provide much greater flexibility in the way information is conveyed to the readership and will also offer the opportunity for greater interaction. It might also have been noticed that…

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Category killers were all the rage for many years when their primary attributes of large out-of-town sheds with car parks and massive ranges of products were regarded as the key to success in retail. Things have clearly changed and at 20.20 we’ve had a number of briefs to turn these sheds into something a little…

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Without doubt the question I’m most frequently asked by senior retailers is – do I know anybody who is good in multi-channel. Multi-channel: anybody good at this stuff?   Having considered the reason for this oft-asked question, I’ve concluded that it is possible that it simply is not clear what skills are required of somebody…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail Jon Asbury, multi-channel director, GO Outdoors 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? GO Outdoors is already a national brand and is by far the largest retailer of outdoor goods in the UK currently trading through 43 superstores and a rapidly growing website. Extending…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and Cookie Reports Beermerchants.com continues its climb up the table of the UK’s leading drinks retailing websites with a move up two places in July that follows its three-place gain last month. But it is still some way off dislodging The Whisky Shop that retains its top spot, just…

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The departure of Kate Bostock from Asos this week undoubtedly highlighted the gulf between the go-getting online fashion operators and the established clothing retailers. Kate Bostock: sign of the great divide It has shown how there remains a great divide between the mind-sets and skill-sets of individuals from large organisations – with their rigidity and…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS The Name: PetShop.co.uk The Place: An online business headquartered in Stratford-upon-Avon with one click and collect showroom. The Story: Right, give me two of the hottest retail topics around and blend them into one, what have you got? Umm. OK, give me the business model du jour and the retail…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 9:00am Tuesday – Still chasing unpaid bill Last month I related the story of having successfully placed a CMO…

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Retail Insider held its latest Breakfast Event this week with Jim McCarthy, chief executive of Poundland, telling the story of how a business founded on a borrowed £200,000 has developed into an operation with 477 outlets. Jim McCarthy, CEO of Poundland with Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider At the Gilbert Scott restaurant within the…

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Global retail chains are hardly unusual but internationally branded pubs and bars are a seriously rare beast. So rare in fact that it’s difficult to think of a single example. BrewDog bars roll-out: Nothing but green lights. This is about to end as Scotland-based brewer and bar operator BrewDog is on a mission to open…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail Andrew Robb, co-founder and chief operating officer, Farfetch 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? International. We are already a global business – shipping from 18 countries to over 140 countries and 88% of our orders go international but our view is we have…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS The Name: Hedonism Wines The Place: One glorious outlet in the heart of Mayfair, London W1.       The Story: Imagine you are a Russian telecoms tycoon with 5,000 shops and it turns out that you and Vladimir Putin don’t have that many friends in common. What…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and Cookie Reports The Whisky Shop has again taken the title of the best performing drinks retail website edging out its long-standing rival Spar (UK) that falls into second place in the table of the UK’s Leading drinks retailing websites for June. This caps a very active month among…

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Employees in stores have historically been focused almost entirely on sealing the deal because the retail model has been based around how much can be sold via the physical outlet. Far too much of this in-store. But this is not the future. For shops to be successful tomorrow there needs to be a radical change…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS The Name: Vente Privee The Place: Headquartered in Paris but offices all round Europe and operating online. The Story:  Let me tell you a story about stock. About 40% of a clothing company’s stock will, for example, sell at full cost. Then they will sell another 50%…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail Jason Weston, chief operating officer, Notonthehighstreet.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? We are still relatively early in our development at notonthehighstreet.com and in high growth mode, so the opportunities are broad and far reaching. Our UK customers have a high engagement with…

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It’s impossible to escape the increasingly loud talk of personalisation. There is a growing recognition that the massive amounts of customer behavioural data collected from shoppers’ visits to websites represents a significant opportunity for retailers. If only it was But the reality is that very few merchants are using the goldmine that largely sits wastefully…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] 8:00am Monday – Reviewing a recent assignment I called to speak to a board director at a travel leisure…

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Injecting the excitement of a traditional market into a shopping centre environment could be the saviour of up to 300 poorly performing developments scattered around the UK. Old Spitalfields Market in full flow This is the view of Malcolm Ball, chief executive of Wellington Markets, which runs 16 markets around the UK including the flagship…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS The Name: Lakeland   The Place: 64 stores in the UK and 7 stores across the Middle East.              The Story:  Lakeland is the kind of shop that inspires a very specific kind of devotion in its customers and there are lots of them, mainly women.…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail Jeremy Fennell, UK e-commerce and DSGiB director, Dixons Retail 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Multi-channel is the way people shop so following the customer is the opportunity. The store network and the people we have enable the service we offer to be…

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To juice their businesses retailers had traditionally looked for new strategic ideas from their favoured big-time consultants such as McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group. Looking at the future  To some extent they still do, but the more savvy merchants have realised they also need to look to where the real action is – with…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and Cookie Reports The Wine Society was a major faller this month, whereas fellow wine retailer Laithwaites was a serious gainer in the table of the UK’s Top 25 leading drinks retailing websites for April. They highlight the serious amount of changes in this month’s table, compared with March,…

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Retail Insider held its first Breakfast Event this week with Angus Thirlwell, founder of Hotel Chocolat, providing some fascinating insights into his vertically-integrated multi-channel business. Angus Thirlwell: in full flow Held at the Gilbert Scott private dining room at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel Thirlwell ran through how he began selling corporate branded peppermints and…

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When Ikea found horse meat in its famous meat balls it had to withdraw them from its stores but this is not the only thing the company is being asked to withdraw as there are questions being asked about its core strategy. Balls to its big store strategy? Doubts about its continued focus on growing…

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Ebay has been moving away from its  original auction model for years as shown here in this archive piece from The Guardian. Sit back and enjoy this bit of nostalgia written by Retail Insider editor Glynn Davis in August 2004. It became known affectionately as the world’s online flea market after it formed in 1995…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS The Name: Rocket Gardens The Place: The headquarters are in Cornwall and up to 25 staff grow plants there but the retailing is done online. The Story: The motto of this company could be ‘River Cottage – it looks good but do you really have the time,…

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    Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail     David Kohn, head of multi-channel, Snow + Rock      1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?  Snow+Rock is a business staffed almost entirely by people who are passionate about the outdoor activity (or more normally activities) that they participate…

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Cask ales from smaller producers are enjoying an ongoing strong period of growth, which has led to a dramatic increase in the number of brewers. More brewers and more beers The Good Beer Guide for 2013 showed the number of brewers in the UK had surpassed 1,000 representing a significant increase on the lows the…

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Purchasing panels, catchment area analytics, focus groups, mystery shoppers, brand image tracking, accompanied shops, and eye tracking, we could go on listing more of the myriad ways that retailers seek to scrutinise their customers. Shoppers remain a mystery  But these are the traditional ways of assessing shopper behaviour and the problem with them is that…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and PCMS The Name: Card Factory The Place: Around 650 shops all over the UK and headquartered in thrifty Yorkshire.The Story: Thrifty is the key word here – as it says on Card Factory bags “If it’s the thought that counts, why do others charge so much.”  In 1997 Dean…

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It is hardly news that returns are becoming a big issue for the UK’s clothing retailers. But the growing level of online sales is leading to returns reaching such proportions that they are causing some serious problems. Whose clothes mountain? We are not just talking about the weaker end of the industry or the less…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and Cookie Reports Aldi managed to hold on to its position at the head of the table of the UK’s Top 25 leading drinks retailing websites for March despite losing ground to second-placed Spar (UK) that is working hard on boosting its wine and beer offer. The German supermarket…

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‘Excerpts from the life of a head-hunter’ working in the leisure/hospitality/retail sectors. [Unfortunately such is the sensitivity of the head-hunting profession that it is rarely possible that the names of the Insiders’ clients can be divulged] November 10:00am Thursday – Client appoints big-gun head-hunter I found out from a candidate that a long-standing client of…

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail Duncan Grant, director of multi-channel, The Entertainer  1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? We have three key parts to our growth strategy; cross-border e-commerce, UK store expansion, and the opening of international stores through franchising. Each area offers a great opportunity for us…

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Amazon is a major worry to many retailers because it operates on a completely different planet to virtually any other retailer. Amazon: No ordinary retailer Its shareholders have long become accustomed to its objective of growing its market share in an increasing array of categories with almost disregard for margins and absolute complete disregard for…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: Just Eat The Place: Headquartered in London but operating in 13 countries. The Story: So, we’re in Denmark and the year is 2001. And a company is launched which allows a hungry person to order a takeaway online after viewing a menu online and the thing…

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For historians of the internet, here is a short series of pieces written by Glynn Davis for The Guardian back in the days of the dotcom boom.This one dates back to May 2001 and features John Browett, former head of Tesco.com, talking about online grocery selling.   Tesco.com: strategy not that clear in early days…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and Cookie Reports Aldi cemented its position as the best performing UK drinks website as it retained the top spot ahead of Spar (UK) in the table of the UK’s Top 25 leading drinks retailing websites for February. This strong performance mirrors the German-based retailer’s strong retail sales, with its…

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The Person: Helen Keenan The Company: Little Punk London The Job Title:  Founder The Story:Keenan is not a career retailer. Until last year she worked for BoJo [that’s Boris Johnson – for non-Londoners] at the Greater London Authority with a budget of £35 million and a team of 60. Before that she was a Director…

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