The Person: David Smith The Company: GLD Group The Job Title: Head of e-commerce The Story: Cast your minds back. To a distant and forgotten time in space when an organisation as big as the Football Association did not need to have a website and JJB Sports, the official retailer of England kit, did not…

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For followers of fashion Biba is still held in great esteem as a pioneer of stylish clothing and its name is well known by most people over a certain age. But what is little known about the business is that it also had a (ultimately fateful) foray into retailing everything from baked beans to dog…

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One of the UK’s most unusual luxury hotels recently opened its doors for the first time to welcome adventurous sea-loving guests.  Concrete fortress turns hotel. The hotel has been carved out of Spitbank Fort – one of three concrete fortress structures built in the late 1800s a good 15 minutes out to sea off the…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail Alan White, CEO of N. Brown Group 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? There is still a great opportunity to improve our online conversion by trading the web more effectively. 2. What is the biggest challenge to your business? Undoubtedly it is the lack…

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Who knows of any retail collaborations between store managers and manufacturers? There might be many reasons to argue that the leisure sector is behind that of retail (this recent guest column highlights some of them) but a recent collaboration run by pub chain Nicholson’s was truly innovative and I’m not sure if this sort of…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: All About Food The Place: On the shelves of all the leading food retailers and one restaurant in Dartington, Devon.   The Story: OK, so it’s not strictly a retailer, or a manufacturer, or a distributor. It’s more of a licensee. But it’s a cracking idea…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and Cookie Reports The upper echelon of the UK’s drinks retail websites are performing more strongly in May than last month, according to the monthly Top 25 UK websites for drinks retailers, produced exclusively by website testing specialist Sitemorse. All the top five this month scored more highly than the…

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The Person: Luke Johnson The Company:  Too many to mention but Pizza Express if you insist we name one of his ventures The Job Title: Serial retail entrepreneur So there’s  young Luke Johnson all set up to be a doctor, studying medicine at Oxford, a steady profession  if ever there was one and he gives…

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As recent as the 1990s walking around the area near Spitalfields Market and Shoreditch after work involved being propositioned by prostitutes and the pubs in the area invariably supplied a basic cocktail of lager, peanuts and strippers. Spitalfields as it was. As for shops. There weren’t any. Fast forward to today and its blindingly obvious…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail Jonathan Wall, Group e-commerce Director at Shop Direct Group 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?We definitely see mobile as our greatest opportunity and, more specifically, using it to gain market share from other retailers by being connected 24/7 with our customers – especially while…

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My grandparents lived in a village on the outskirts of Doncaster called Carcroft, which is where the 40-plus year-old DFS was founded and is still based. Made in Doncaster. I can recall a school trip to the factory where its founder Lord Kirkham (it was just Graham in those days) proudly explained how the sofas…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: Boxpark The Place:Bethnal Green Road, London E1 The Story: Take the man behind the fashion brand Boxfresh and let him loose with 60 empty shipping containers. Offer brand owners short-term leases instead of the usual mammoth tie-ins and watch as they trip over themselves to use…

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Fast-forward five years from now and the question being asked about pure play retailers will be how exactly do they survive without taking advantage of trading across multiple channels including physical stores? Having no stores will be seen as a mistake. Shoppers will find it rather strange that they can only buy from them online…

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To any overseas visitors coming to these shores for the Olympic Games the organisers of the event would have you believe that the main beers produced in the UK are Heineken and its sister brands John Smith’s and Strongbow. London + Olympics = Heineken! They’d also have you believe that we don’t have anything more…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and Cookie Reports Welcome to the inaugural Retailinsider.com monthly ‘Drinks Retail Website Index’ that ranks the Top 25 UK websites for drinks retailers, which has been produced exclusively by website testing specialist Sitemorse. The objective is to give a cross-section of the category with the constituents comprising large grocers, pure-play…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail Simon Russell, director of retail operations development at John Lewis 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? We have a great opportunity to further integrate a very successful department store business and a rapidly growing online business to produce a really compelling omni-channel business. Naturally our…

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Bottled premium ales are a growing category for the supermarkets and selling through such outlets enables brewers to expose their goods to customers around the country – so long as they swallow the bitter pill of being paid a very ‘competitive’ price. Supermarkets are finding such products very attractive. This is something that Yorkshire-based Black Sheep accepts and now sells…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: IKEAThe Place: Too many countries to mention – but about 325 stores in around 35 countries.The Story: It starts with another youngster in a shed – Ingvar Kamprad, stuck in the depths of southern Sweden with a helpful aunt. In 1930-something she helps him buy 100…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail Mark Lewis, chief executive of CollectPlus 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? The rapid rise of Click and Collect services presents the biggest opportunity for our business. With over half of online consumers already using the service, this take-up indicates that customers are rejecting…

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The recent revelation that Tesco has been selling goods on Amazon’s site under the name Oakwood Distribution at prices that undercut its Tesco.com website is hardly surprising [This is Money article] AKA Tesco. The brouhaha seems to surround it doing so in a name other than Tesco. Anti-Tesco campaigners cite this as an example of…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: The Sampler The Place: Kensington, London and Islington, London. The Story: In a normal wine retailer you go in, you look up and down shelves in a pseudo knowledgeable way and you eventually pick one based on a)cost 2)type or c) because you like the label.…

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The Person: Michael Wainwright The Company: Boodles The Job Title: Joint managing director So, I’m guessing that running a family jewellery business means a lot of tantrums and tiaras? Boodles is certainly overrun with Wainwrights. Michael Wainwright’s brother Nicholas is the other managing director, his nephew Jody Wainwright is the diamond expert and another nephew…

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Who would have thought that after many years of very successful trading we would no longer have Woolworths on UK high streets and that the once-mighty HMV would be a shadow of its former self. And in the US the leader of the photography pack Kodak would now be effectively dead. Kodak: shuttered There is…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail Joe Murray, co-founder of Worldstores.com 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Our intention is to become the definitive online destination for furniture and homewares – our mission is to sell “everything for the home”. Currently we are very strong in some categories such as…

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‘New Look may close 100 stores’ ran the headline in the Financial Times recently, highlighting an increasingly common story of major retail chains off-loading stores as the internet continues to impact on revenues from their physical units. Just one of numerous store closure headlines. But it would be far too simplistic to think that rationalising…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: The People’s Supermarket The Place: Lamb’s Conduit Street, London The Story: A supermarket which is a co-operative, membership-directed, ethically run, anti- food waste haven founded by  Kate Bull, an ex-M&S executive and Arthur Potts Dawson, Mick Jagger’s nephew. Beloved of David Cameron and his big society.…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail Tom Allason, founder of Shutl 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business? Becoming the delivery standard. I would like to see Shutl influencing consumer buying behavior globally with shoppers gravitating towards retailers that offer ‘shutl’ and away from those that don’t. 2. What is the…

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Here’s the latest instalment of a new series where leading retail executives recall memorable occasions spent celebrating a new job, cutting a big deal, winning a large order, or just enjoying life in a specific pub, bar or restaurant. Richard Pennycook, group finance director at Morrisons recalls a trip on the Orient Express and a meal…

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Fashion chain Aurora operates the Oasis, Warehouse and Coast brands and just might be the most multi-channel thinking retail business in the UK. Aurora: a bright light in multi-channel  Many businesses suffer from internal battles being fought between their various channels as they argue over the internet cannibalising store sales, which ultimately kills off innovation and progress.…

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Fashion retailer Asos is working with consultants Javelin Group to asses the potential of opening stores on the high street. Let’s change that to: ‘Multi-channel Fashion Store’ The online-only business has for years been considering opening up stores to compliment its online business. There were also rumours that it would enter a partnership with a…

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As Mary Portas seeks to address the ills of the UK high street, a visit by Retailinsider.com to the opening of the new-look Musicroom store on London’s Denmark Street highlighted just what shopping streets can be. Things have always looked up on Denmark Street This new outlet sells all things musical. Along with pretty much every other shop…

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Although this website is predominantly retail-focused, regular readers and subscribers will have no doubt noticed that the odd piece about beer and pubs manages to squeeze its way onto the site. Every effort is made to ensure this pub-related content is as relevant to the readership as the pure retail pieces and various columns that appear…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and PCMS The Name: I Hate Perfume The Place: Brooklyn, New York The Story: American Anglophile Christopher Brosius is a perfumer despite the name of his establishment whose mission “has long been to capture and bottle every possible pleasant smell”. His products are stocked in select locations all over the…

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He knows the banking industry but they don’t want to know him. Earlier this year Tesco Bank had grand plans to move its Visa Cards to MasterCard-branded credit cards under the World MasterCard banner and enjoy the extra transaction charges that these cards would bring to its coffers. But this went off the rails when…

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Structurally the retail industry is on its uppers and a fillip from Christmas is far from guaranteed because deep discounts have been widespread across the sector since early October. But I don’t want to add to the doom and gloom that already hogs the news headlines.    No more doom and gloom please. There are some…

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For many months The Great Northern Railway Tavern pub in north London remained closed, with the occasional bit of activity from workmen. Because it is a glorious Victorian building (including a rare set of lamps fixed to the bar and impressive glass skylight) anticipation of its opening was high in the Retailinsider.com office. Magic Victorian…

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Welcome to a new series where leading retail executives recall memorable occasions spent celebrating a new job, cutting a big deal, winning a large order, or just enjoying life in a specific pub, bar or restaurant. Robin Terrell, executive director of multi-channel and international at House of Fraser recalls good times in The Admiral Codrington pub in…

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The retail industry should be applauded. When it comes to rip-off Britain it could be argued that other sectors are far more at fault and they should be looking to multi-channel retailers for best practice in keeping consumers happy. In March of this year Which? wrote a report highlighting the worst offenders at the hidden…

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It’s that time of the year again. When the thoughts of many businesses turn to how they can serve up the same basic offering with a nominal twist, hike up the price, and sell it on as a ‘festive period’ offer.  Prices rise higher than the scones. So it is at The Dorchester hotel, famed as…

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Few people enjoy having restrictions forced upon them and being dictated to about what they can and can’t buy. With the advent of the internet there has arguably never been a better time for consumer choice. Pint of Kipling or something unpronounceable sir? While  the retail industry largely delivers on the consumer choice quota there…

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Christmas is the final big hurrah of the year for consumers but for an unprecedented number of retailers the festive season this year will not be a celebration. It will be their last quarter before restructuring forces major change upon them and their survival is put in doubt. Christmas 2011: more funereal than celebratory. Having…

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Brought to you by Retailinsider.com and K3 Retail. Sarah Curran, co-founder of my-wardrobe 1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?We see a huge opportunity for my-wardrobe to be a global brand. We have been working on the international expansion of the business over the last three months in two key markets, Australia and…

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One of the stronger arguments at the start of the recession – that seemed almost plausible at the time – was that youth-oriented retailers would escape the worst problems because their audience was insulated from the skirmish. Plenty of items here to keep one young shopper insulated. This worked out for some time but the downturn has…

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The Shop: The Big Green Bookshop The Place: the gritty streets of Wood Green in North London The Owners: Tim West and Simon Key The Story: Opened in March 2008. Having taken a pay-cut to get out of the Oxford Street branch of Waterstone’s (“where  you sell units not books and manage spreadsheets”) Key came…

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The reason for the success of Ikea is not down to the price and size of its meatballs. It is down to its range of unique, exclusive products that have given it the ability to massively differentiate itself from the rest of the market. At the World Retail Congress in Berlin this week, Anders Dahlvig, former chief executive…

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Internet connectivity in Russia is at a lower level than many other European nations and this clearly has an adverse effect on the amount of online commerce undertaken in the country. But with only a piddling 5% of consumers purchasing goods online this is staggering low even with the unsurprisingly modest internet penetration among the Russian population. This is especially…

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Many of you will no doubt have eaten in Pizza Express and been served up decent quality pizzas and maybe some dough balls to keep your kids quiet. Well the group recently served up something of world class quality – the announcement that the business had appointed the president of McDonald’s Europe to run the…

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Hands up everyone who enjoys a secret rummage through the reduced label pile in the supermarket? Almost everyone likes getting something cheaper than it otherwise would be and there are few who have not snaffled a bargain at some point. But hands up again who has bothered to check their receipt to find out if…

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We’ve banged on before on Retailinsider.com about the role that stores will play in a multi-channel future and we’ve looked into the crystal ball for clues about how bricks and mortar will stack up in a digital world. Will bricks and mortar stack-up in the future. The guessing might now be over because although the…

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Poundland has been a phenomenally successful business, especially in recent years when it has added stores like topsy while most other retailers have been shedding outlets. Yes, Everything’s £1. Whether you believe this is down to the skill of able chief executive Jim McCarthy or the tough economy that has driven consumers to seek out…

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Ten years ago the food offer in garden centres consisted of nothing more than a bland cafe plonked in the middle of a load of plants. But today a visit to places like the Squires Garden Centre in Farnham reveals an immense open plan eating area that resembles the food courts found in the big…

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Cash is still the preferred method of payment for the vast majority of people in the UK, crowed a survey from Wincor Nixdorf. But at the same time a conflicting survey from Barclays and Barclaycard found that more than half of consumers believe cash will become extinct. Cash: as popular as ever. What are we to…

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It has long-since been achnowledged that online sales will continue to show significant growth for some years to come – leaving store sales for dust. Online sales: not good. But signs are emerging that this saviour of the retail sector is running out of steam for some retailers. According to the recent Martec International ‘IT…

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Visa is distancing itself from some of the practices of its great rival MasterCard as both face ongoing accusations that they are over-charging retailers on transaction charges. Gloves are off between Visa and MasterCard Over the years they have been accused of working rather monopolistically but not any more as Visa is looking to land…

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Groupon, LivingSocial and a host of other such businesses have been masquerading as group-buying sites but this is wrong as they are nothing more than deliverers of Daily Deals. Group buying should be about consumers combining their purchases to cut a deal on a volume basis with manufacturers and suppliers. The more buyers there are then…

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Managing relationships with customers is absolutely crucial, which is why leisure operators and retailers are increasingly turning to loyalty programmes to give them greater relevance to their customers. One area of the leisure industry that does not rely on such technology-led initiatives to help drive its business, but provides a great example of skilful managing…

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Tesco has great hopes for its Banking division but right now things are going badly, with the company scrapping its Tesco World MasterCard credit card to new applicants. Things are not going so well at the self-styled People’s Bank. This withdrawal of the card comes after the grocer only recently upgraded upwards of one million Tesco Visa cardholders onto the new…

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Fooftall data from Experian showed a year-on-year decline of 4% for the recent double Bank Holiday weekend that was much worse than the 2.1% experienced in April and the preceeding two months. Measuring their actions is easy, explaining them is hard. This heavier drop was apparently explained away by the fact that the weather was very good. To quote…

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Sat outside in the sun this weekend nursing a cappuccino at the newly-opened Cafe Teria in my part of North London got me thinking about how the opening of a classy cafe/bar/bakery can impact on an area. Cupcakes: Bringing people to a rough area near you.  Needless to say, there are parties who have investigated this in an…

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Changing prices throughout the course of the day is something retailers seem rather scared about undertaking. Their idea of dynamic pricing goes no further than brightly coloured stickers announcing price cuts on products reaching the end of their sell-by-dates. Retailers scared of what’s in the box. But in the leisure and hospitality sector this form…

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Oddbins has just gone into administration, Thresher Group went the same way last year, and pretty much every other specialist booze seller has had a tough time over recent years. The sun is shining on Kris Wines, its owner and regular customer. But there is one exception – the specialist beer shop. This post on…

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For many years the retail industry has battled hard against the banks and card schemes, Visa and MasterCard, to try and reduce the level of fees they are charged on every transaction they accept by payment card. Transaction fees: Never quite this obvious. There was a lot of sympathy for their plight – big banks…

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Apparently 27% of food and grocery manufacturers would consider building an online store to sell direct to shoppers. Manufacturers and selling online is not a grey area.  According to research from grocery experts IGD these manufacturers are recognising the need to engage directly with their shoppers online. I’m not sure whether this reflects well or badly on the…

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You may recall the brouhaha earlier in the year over Starbucks changing its logo to a simplified, less cluttered version. Out went its name and the word ‘coffee’ from its famous green mermaid-like logo. The evolution of a brand from cluttered to clean. Much of the fuss was over the question of whether people would still recognise…

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There have been many articles written and photos published of the almost newly-restored hotel at London’s St Pancras station in recent weeks but they do little justice to the building once you actually get inside it. It might be a big building but it’s all about the small details. Compared with all other leisure-related buildings – hotels, restaurants, shops and…

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The most important aspect of the recent appointment of Laura Wade-Gery as the director for multi-channel e-commerce at Marks & Spencer is her seat on the main board. Seat at the big table for Ms Wade-Gery at M&S. This signals the retailer is serious about multi-channel and will specifically see Wade-Gery work on the development of M&S’…

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There was so much hype built-up around the impending appearance of US-based electricals group Best Buy in the UK that it would have been very tough for it to live up to the pre-match billing. Expansion into the UK wasn’t supposed to be like this. But oh, how much shorter could it have fallen of those…

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There is a good reason why retailers have embraced the digital world like a long-lost mate – they sell lots of things online. Retailers sell lots of these things online. This has put them well ahead of the leisure and hospitality sector, which has not exactly whole-heartedly embraced the digital revolution. But there are signs…

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A few years back there were many detractors of the rapidly expanding coffee shop market who were continually forcasting the “froth to be blown off the coffee market”. Coffee shop market: comfortable with its level of froth. But it never really happened and such is the acceptance of the ongoing high growth rates of this category that today nobody…

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Now we all know that Rotherham is no London. But the difference in the vacancy rates of shops at these two locations could not be more stark. Rotherham: UK towns become ghost towns. The recent National Retail Barometer from Colliers International shows vacancy rates in the centre of Rotherham are running at almost 30% whereas on London’s…

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Customer loyalty solutions have been used to great effect within the retail sector for many years and even its most vocal opponents have ultimately succumbed to recognising that points and prizes means regular shoppers. Brucie would have recognised what points mean. Asda in particular has long rubbished loyalty programmes, instead preferring to focus on its Every Day…

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With the world’s developed markets universally on the skids there has been much talk among retailers of expanding into new growth markets. Retail growth in the developed world. Some have done so while others have been all mouth and little action. But what is interesting is just how many large retailers now have internationally experienced executives in…

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Eating turkey, spending time with your family, watching rubbish telly, receiving unwanted presents, and buying gifts for people you don’t like are among the myriad reasons for disliking Christmas. Turkey: enough to drive a teetotaler to the pub. But it does have its upsides. One of them being that it is a great excuse to pop down to the…

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It’s called evolution – you hire somebody and they come in with big ideas and often a large ego and ultimately they end up running the show. I bet Sainsbury’s didn’t think this was going to happen with Jamie Oliver. The little guy who was brought in to re-connect the company with its food heritage is now…

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Strange things are happening in the world of retail property. On the one hand there is a strong argument from some retailers that large stores are best as they are more cost efficient. But on the other there is the counter view that smaller stores are more beneficial in an increasingly online-focused world. More stores up for…

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This is a slight diversion from the normal fayre you’ll find on Retailinsider.com but the news that the venerable Balls Brothers chain in the City of London is on the ropes highlights how successful retail/leisure organisations can suffer badly from rapidly changing tastes and cultures. How long will the doors stay open? I thought a close…

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Pubs are arguably under more under pressure than retailers but at least they have a unique product to sell in the form of cask ale that cannot easily be bought in shops or over the internet. Lots of choice but does any of it appeal? As the industry has faced myriad problems – the smoking ban, increased…

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Shoppers rely heavily on customer product reviews when deciding a purchase, with recent research showing over three-quarters used ratings and reviews before buying. But when so many of the entries are potentially fake and PR fluff do they bother? It might be a review, but is there any insight? The ongoing issue involving Trip Advisor is…

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Ocado and the big grocery chains naturally grab all the media attention and appear the only options for home delivered food. This is not the case. There have been a number of organic food delivery companies that have cropped-up over recent years who supply nationwide and there is also the odd localised business. One hyper-local operation is Hubbub…

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It might have been around since 1963, and been trading over the internet in the UK since way back in 1995, but clothing retailer Lands’ End has only this month started selling goods to the younger end of the market on its British website. It’s taken since 1963, but Canvas has landed It follows another long-established mail-order/online retailer…

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Bottled beer was regarded as a super-premium category by the supermarkets a couple of years back and they seemed to like it. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda each held annual competitions to find the best new ales from UK brewers to help promote the category. What happened to it? As a beer drinker it is sad to…

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So now we know. Netto abandoned the UK by selling out to Asda Wal-Mart because the might of the country’s big grocers ultimately caused it too much grief. Speaking at the World Retail Congress in Berlin Claus Juel-Jensen, managing director of Netto International, admitted that the aggressive competition from the likes of Tesco, Asda, Morrisons…

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You’d have to be living down a very deep hole not to have recognised that multi-channel retail is the way to go for merchants that have a physical stores estate. On day one of the World Retail Congress in Berlin this week delegates were given yet more evidence of the benefits of operating across multiple channels…

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He knows the banking industry but they don’t want to know him Confusion reigns at the point-of-sale as retailers haven’t a clue what payment cards they are accepting from customers. It used to be oh so simple – it was either a debit or credit card. But this is no longer the case in this…

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The big downside to retail is that it involves consumers. This fickle, and sometimes annoying, bunch can be a real pain in the neck. Nowhere are they more irritating than when it comes to waste, recycling and anything else to do with saving the planet. Loads of waste – lovely They send out so many conflicting messages. In only the past…

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Online retail sales growth is set to slow dramatically over the next five years, according to Verdict, which reckons there will be little more than 12% per annum increases compared with the chunky 35% achieved over the previous 10 years. [see report by Internet Retailing]. How many fewer times will we be pressing this button? Its report ‘E-retail 2010 and…

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Retailers recognise that customer databases and CRM (customer relationship marketing) systems provide them with the best returns on investment among their marketing activities. But almost half then admit their systems are ineffective. It’s time to get a handle on customer data The Loyalty Report for 2010 from The Logic Group (undertaken by Ipsos MORI) found that…

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If you were unable to make it to the Retail Systems Multi-channel Conference on September 15 then you will have missed the launch of the Top 70 survey of the ‘Movers & Shakers in Multi-channel and E-commerce’. Fear not as the link here gives you access to the list of the 70 people that are…

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The recession and growth of the internet have had a big impact on shop lettings, which has resulted in 13% of units in shopping areas now vacant (voids), according to the Local Data Company (LDC). Empty shops: coming to a high street like yours, and staying. The situation could be even worse than that for landlords…

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The arguments for a downgrade across the retail sector are growing as the last remaining positive in the industry – the clothing retailers – are starting to take a hit from weaker consumer consumption and growing pressure on margins. Plenty of these over the retail sector right now In a lengthy note from broker Singer Capital Markets the message…

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Did you know  that home shopping and online-only retailers spend a significantly greater amount each year on IT compared with any other types of merchants. In some cases more than three-times as much. Home shopping retailers spend more in this stuff The recent IT in Retail Research report from Martec International for sponsor BT Expedite revealed that non-store retailers have an IT spend the…

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For many years the high street has been a victim of shoppers’ predilection for visiting retail parks and as a result has suffered a spiral of decline as sales have dwindled. The unique attractions of retail parks But for the first time in many years the footfall trends show the high street performing better than the retail…

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Amazon’s recent statement about how massively successful its e-book sales were going should be regarded with some scepticism. The online giant, which has much riding on its Kindle e-reader device, made the grand revelation that e-books were now outselling hardcover versions. But what it didn’t say was that these ‘sales’ also included the books it allows its…

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If you have half a brain then you know that multi-channel and e-commerce is where the real action is within the retail sector. That’s why Retailinsider.com and sponsors K3 thought it a good idea to conduct a survey across the sector to find out who the movers and shakers are in this part of the…

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It seems retailers still can’t get enough of mobile phones. Despite many of the UK’s high streets absolutely saturated with outlets from Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse and the networks Orange, Vodafone and O2 etcetera, non-specialists are still keen to flog the devices and their accessories. Don’t like yours on the left In only the past week we’ve seen Tesco Mobile…

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Much has been made of the Ocado valuation in recent weeks but in stark contrast little has been made of the valuation of the sector’s 60lb gorilla that could no doubt squash Ocado if it liked. Actually, Waitrose could probably squash Ocado if it liked. Outlandish Ocado valuation has not helped Tesco yet. What’s happened to…

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The least surprising event this week was the lowering of the price range for the flotation of Ocado to 180p-200p. At Retailinsider.com we’ve long been sceptical about this whole IPO process at the initial £1 billion valuation. (See previous post in May)   The only real surprise is that the cut wasn’t greater – from its…

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Trading is much tougher at Argos than I had imagined. Spotted in the Financial Times last week is the story that Argos is looking to drill for oil in the Falklands. Things clearly are getting desperate if the company is looking for black gold to support the trading at its stores. Argos: clearly on a diversification path that takes it…

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He knows the banking industry but they don’t want to know him Did you know that retailers are charged at least 20% more by the banks and card schemes to accept a transaction online compared with in-store? This is especially puzzling when you consider that online transactions are so much easier to process for the banks…

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Tax increases and spending cuts are beginning to hit the sector hard. Yes, since the downturn first hit in 2008 many retailers have taken lots of medicine and reduced their terminal stock levels, cut costs, and now have a tighter than ever control on their inventory, but the fact is they face yet more problems ahead. Just…

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Customers of online fashion retailer Asos will soon be able to collect their orders from Boots stores. The pure play merchant has recognised the massive demand from consumers to buy online and then collect in-store. Soon to be a pick-up point for Asos  Boots represents a non-competing retailer with an attractive national store coverage that would be powerful to Asos. The company had…

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An interesting little insight into Tesco and Sir Terry Leahy came out of this week’s Retail Bulletin Loyalty Conference. Steve Gray, former MD at dunnhumby and now chairman of Emnos, recalled the time in 2004 when dunnhumby client US-based Kroger was looking to do a banking joint-venture with RBS. Sir Terry: Top of the pile Such a…

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What to make of all this fuss around the sale of anti-English World Cup merchandise. It seems the Scots have been entertaining themselves by buying t-shirts with ‘Anyone But England’ emblazoned across them. The offending t-shirt: would look quite stylish on a Scot  Well they need something to do in addition to twiddling their thumbs because…

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To state the blindingly obvious – high streets are having a tough time. Many retailers blame landlords and they are largely right. The greedy men in suits simply charge too much rent. Where this has really been felt is with smaller independent retailers. Not only have they had difficulty coming up with the high rentals demanded – compared with the…

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Continuing to misvalue online fashion retailer Asos seems to be one of the consistencies in the City, with retail analysts perenially underestimating its growth prospects. Last week’s results – for the year to March 31 – were a typical example. There was much talk ahead of the results about Asos needing to deliver strong numbers to justify its high…

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Tesco commercial director Richard Brasher’s failure to secure the chief executive role at Tesco has been revealed at the BRC Annual Retail Conference this week. In his earlier years at the company he was sent out to manage a store. He got it badly wrong over Christmas and was running a store with very little…

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Asda might have paid a high price for the Netto supermarket chain but the expectation is that it will squeeze significantly greater revenues and profits from the business than its Danish owners. It intends to attract more people doing their full weekly shops through increasing the SKU count and boosting the fresh food offer. It will also…

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We all know that women holding senior positions in the retail sector are an extremely rare breed. But the reality is that the retail industry is hardly unusual in having its most powerful roles held predominantly by men. This is a universal scenario that is common to all sectors. This poor situation was brought home to me…

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Home delivery company Ocado is taking no chances in being short of advice for its float as five more banking names signed on the dotted line to receive fees if the company does actually float (Retail Week, June 1). It seems staggering that a business looking to raise a modest £150 million (against an admittedly…

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There is no doubt that we are in politically correct times so it was all the more surprising that I came across a rather strangely named colour. It was listed on a box that had contained a headboard, which I had found lying on the dirty streets of north London. Anyone for a Gringo Brown headboard? Gringo Brown…

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The debate over whether luxury goods can be sold online has raged for years and probably bored many people en route. Thankfully we are close to a conclusion on this subject because increasing amounts of hard evidence suggests consumers will buy pretty much anything online – from cheap tat to ultra-expensive baubles. Devil of a time…

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The seemingly never-ending run up to flotation for online grocery retailer Ocado was knocked off course slightly this week with the publication of a critical report from broker Bernstein Research. At Retailinsider.com we have long reckoned the £1 billion valuation that has been mooted in the press has sounded a tad too rich. This has, admittedly, been based on…

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If Tesco had known just how badly the discounters would ultimately handle their post-recession come-down I don’t think they’d have worried so much about them during the downturn and even bothered launching their Discounter Brands range. The latest evidence to emerge of their continued weak performance comes from grocery experts IGD that found the main…

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Has online shopping ever been interesting, exciting and fun? Probably not that much. That’s certainly the view of a couple of online price comparison pioneers who helped develop Kelkoo and have just launched Keynoir to address this problem. Each day an offer appears on the site that requires a minimum number of people to make a purchase before it is…

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The long-rumoured flotation of online food retailer Ocado continues to rumble on and advisors are supposedly due to be hired after Easter. The road to a stock market listing took an interesting turn with an article in the Sunday Telegraph that reported an unnamed analyst from an “expert retail analyst firm” had handed over a detailed…

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 Flicking through the Evening Standard ES Magazine on Friday highlighted the level of brainless and selfishness that unfortunately pervades the capital. The magazine has a regular Q&A section called ‘My London’ and this week it featured WBA World Heavyweight boxing champion David Haye who reckons if he was Mayor for the day he would abandon the congestion…

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The announcement this week of an investment of £2.5 million in online furniture selling business Made.com sounds like little for retailers to worry about. It’s an online start-up and it’s a trifling amount. But this might be a mistake because the investors putting in the cash are Lastminute.com co-founder and mydeco.com  founder Brent Hoberman and the less well known…

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Esoteric brewer and pub owner Sam Smiths has finally removed the last branded products from its boozers with all its bagged snacks now entirely own-label. This might not sound like earth shattering news but it makes Sam Smiths a rarity in the market as I doubt many other pub operators or retailers would have the…

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It might be more than two years away but retailers should at least be looking to get their heads around the 2012 Olympic Games because it represents a one-off opportunity to bag a chunky amount of extra sales. Attending this week’s 2012 Opportunites for Retailers conference was an interesting experience if only for the statistics it threw up. Just consider the…

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It seemed rather strange that Games Workshop Group should have ruled itself out of the competition to win the ‘Turnaround of the Year’ category in the annual Plc awards run by the FT, having been shortlisted. The thing to conclude from this is that its management did not want to win because it did not believe the…

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For many years the focus in retail has been skewed to ever larger stores located out-of-town and many operators have been unwilling to dirty their hands operating smaller units on, god forbid, the high street. Some retailers like Asda have publicly stated their aversion to opening smaller, convenience type stores, in town centres because they…

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For a company that has a ‘For Sale’ sign atop its virtual store, the chief executive of Figleaves wasn’t really selling the business particularly well to the audience at the Retail Week Conference. Julia Reynolds was keen to stress that anybody can sell other people’s brands, which is largely what Figleaves does, and this made…

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