Team Building in 2015

Yep, you probably think you are doing team building already; reviewing the team wherever they sit in your retail operation, having one to ones and huddles to keep people informed and motivated, giving feedback and for the more enlightened even taking feedback. You might have had a few drinks over Christmas with the team and possibly had the results of the company 360º.

It may well be you are right, in which case congratulations, you are doing the one thing that elite sports teams have known for years but is largely side-stepped by business. Teams deliver because they understand each other, know the strengths and gaps that exist and work towards making the whole retail organization greater than any one individual (and yes that includes the boss). It’s this objective challenge and review that is so vital and yet so difficult to deliver. Looking in the mirror from a leadership perspective does not come easily to most people, (some of you will have reflected on this as you read it, others would have ignored the prompt!).

We often use MBTI analysis in our team build to add even further objectivity to the pot, to give some flash to the discussion and allow some of the areas needing attention to be recognised and planned for. Not always the most comfortable experience initially. Don’t come to us if you just want a nodding dog and a piss up with the team. We like to hold that mirror firmly and recognise the individual’s as well as the team’s impact. From there we can then start working on how we make the best of it. Helping build a Mission, Vision and Values that really mean something; to helping you construct a team’s rhythm that delivers the desired end result.

The other thing that we feel is a key ingredient in any team build is fun. We all learn more when we are relaxed and enjoying the process and it goes without saying that we only do fun team builds. If you want hyper-corporate, sit in an office staring at a PowerPoint type, please look elsewhere, there is plenty about, it’s not just us. If you want to take two or three days out to invest in the most dynamic way to build a team and create a plan for the forthcoming year(s) then we will be there like a shot. Inside, outside, UK or abroad we are more than happy to have a chat and get under the skin of the needs of the team. We have (obviously) taken feedback on the many team building activities we have delivered over the years and we are really proud to say we, and our retail clients, big and small, think they are epic. Could your team benefit?

Retail Remedy provides bespoke, results-focused consultancy for retailers globally, from established brands to high-growth start-ups. Get in touch.

The Waiting Game

It looks as though the research was right. 8.5 million people said they would wait for the post-Christmas Sales before buying their Christmas gifts this year, according to a study by Capital one. And John Lewis has reported that last week’s sales were down 2.4% on the year, having brought forward sales into Black Friday.

The simple truth is that the retail industry has trained the customer to expect mark downs and so they wait, they wait for their trigger price point and then they shop. The customer is confident that they can hold out longer than the retailer, and they would be right. The customer could shop elsewhere, or buy something else. The retailer is sitting on the stock, so of course his nerve will break before the stronger customer.

There is very little that a retailer can do to change the customer’s expectations single-handedly. It is an industry wide problem that has been created by a few in the industry who have the biggest margins to play with. Meanwhile the rest follow or flounder. Last year it was really only Amazon and Asda who promoted Black Friday. This year all the major retailers, and some independents, were counting down to chaos and giveaway prices.

Since then, the level of discount has been deepening by the week and the post-Christmas Sales are inching forward such that many retailer’s Sales will start online today. Those customers that waited, the customers that the retail industry fear, will be rewarded with some incredible bargains, thus encouraging them to wait again next year. Well done us.

Last year PriceWaterhouseCoopers reported 72% of the High Street running sales promotions in the week before Christmas with an average discount of 46%. It’s a pretty safe bet that those percentages will be higher this year.

Retail Remedy provides bespoke, results-focused consultancy for retailers globally, from established brands to high-growth start-ups. Get in touch.

What the M&S customer wants for Christmas

The Marks and Spencer customer, we are told, is a fashion conscious 50-something with her own income. Walking around a Marks and Spencer store however, doesn’t support that.

The M&S target customer has given up shopping there, disappointed that what she finds isn’t for her, evidenced by the continuing downturn of womenswear sales. This Christmas looks like it will be more of the same judging by a recent visit to its Fosse Park store, so what would we suggest M&S do to turn the tide?

Give clearly identifiable roles to in-house brands.

A typical M&S store carries multiple womenswear brands including Limited Edition, Per Una, Classics, Autograph, Indigo and M&S Collection and there could be a place for each of them if they didn’t overlap and tread on each other’s toes. This is synonymous with the identity crisis that M&S has experienced, not knowing which customer they want to serve and ultimately not serving anyone. An edit of the brands and a redefining of their roles would leave the customer with a clear reason to shop each brand and a place for each in her wardrobe.

Help the customer navigate the store with clearer signage.

Aligned with the confusing brand architecture is confusing signage and store layout. Brands blur from one into another leaving the customer disoriented and drifting aimlessly. While that can lead to accidental new discoveries, better to present the customer with what they wanted to and expected to find.

Better buying

Ranges can be disjointed with surprising garment adjacencies, limiting the opportunity for the customer to buy into a range. A clear and consistent interpretation of the design brief should be a given but it still feels that isn’t entirely on point. Add to that the range breadth that is allocated to smaller stores and the ability for a customer to buy an outfit is impeded.


Last on the customer’s Christmas list for M&S is an inspiring store environment that encourages her to buy, to browse and to come back again to see what is new. The store can just feel flat. Even this Christmas, the advertising promised magic and sparkle and it was well disguised behind a display of poinsettas.

So come on M&S, grant the customer her Christmas wishes and get M&S back on track.

Retail Remedy provides bespoke, results-focused consultancy for retailers globally, from established brands to high-growth start-ups. Get in touch.

premier foods logo

Premier Foods – the future of brands in the UK?

There is a lot in the press about the seeming mal-practice of Premier Foods in their demand from their suppliers for loyalty payments. There used to be a time when the manufacturers complained bitterly about the retailers negotiation tactics and the additional costs levied against new line introduction, promotional support, POS, additional space etc. It seems that the retailers are not alone in being tough to do business with and suppliers to suppliers are treated in a similarly tough manner. Buy what’s changed, why the increasingly tough stance ?

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christmas tree made of books

Tis the season for points of differentiation.

Here at Retail Remedy we do tend to hark on about differentiation, normally when we are being bombarded by the normal pricing tussles between the grocery retailers.

The Big 4 do have different offers, not just what they range but also how they range it, marketing messages, loyalty promotions etc. but it is normally the price that gets all the attention in the retail press and in any article comparing one retailer against another.

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