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The Retail Forum | Post Event Newsletter


Phoebe Cherrill | 10/06/2014
Filed under: Retail

Bill Grimsey “Overcapacity is such a severe problem that it could, ultimately, result in the disappearance of one of the big 4 grocers”.

Bill Grimsey’s opening address challenged retailers to recognise that the end of the downturn does not signal the end of structural change in the sector; indeed, if anything the pace and severity of change is likely to accelerate over the next few years. The address threw out a number of challenges, not least among them, the issue of overcapacity in the sector. The only long term solution to this is less space brought about through the closure of underperforming stores. So severe is this problem that it could, ultimately, result in the disappearance of one of the big 4 grocers, said Grimsey.

Neil Saunders "Consumers today are more demanding and have higher expectations from retailers and products; this makes them difficult, and sometimes expensive, to serve.”


Bill’s sentiments were echoed in the presentation by the forum’s chairman, Neil Saunders, Managing Director of Conlumino,  which explored how the consumer would change in the post-downturn environment. It was noted that not all trends which have emerged during the downturn would disappear as the economy came back to life. Indeed, some trends have become entrenched and established – such as the polarisation of buying which sees some consumers trading up to more expensive goods while at the same time buying from discounters. Another key theme was that consumers today are more demanding and have higher expectations from retailers and products; this makes them difficult, and sometimes expensive, to serve. 

Joe McEwan “ensure that only people who believe in the brand and who fit well with the company ethos are hired”


Great customer experience doesn't just come from metrics; it also comes from passion and belief which was  something Joe McEwan, Head of Digital and Communities at Innocent had in spades. Joe told the story of how Innocent had been founded and how it has grown in a way that respects communities, fosters openness in communications and builds an engaged and active community around its products. One of Joe’s key messages for maintaining a unique culture, even as a business grows, is to ensure that only people who believe in the brand and who fit well with the company ethos are hired – even if this means leaving a vacancy open for a while.

Matt Watkinson “brands and products need to be clear about what they stand for and deliver on their promises”

Matt Watkinson, customer experience expert,  explored the theme of serving customers in his presentation and outlined ten principles behind a great customer experience. One of Matt’s contentions is that a good customer experience is about setting and then meeting or exceeding expectations, as such it is important for brands and products to be clear about what they stand for and to deliver on their promises. This, in large part, explains why cheaper and premium brands can both be highly regarded with consumers even though they are markedly different in terms of proposition. It also explains why many middle market brands, which fail to manage expectations, are failing in the current environment.

Dennis Reid “building a high performance team requires appropriate KPIs for measurement and accountability”

Ensuring that retailers understand and deliver for the customer arguably comes down to having an engaged workforce; this was something explored by Dennis Reid, Managing Director of Retail Performance Specilaists. In his presentation Dennis argued that building a high performance team required appropriate KPIs for measurement, having clear actions in place to move numbers in the right direction, ensuring the presence of a learning culture, and making all of this endure through accountability and ongoing coaching. Using examples from clients, Dennis showed how this approach could create positive change in metrics such as sales, conversions or average transaction values.





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