News of the Week: Retail special
There’s arguably no sector that moves as quickly as retail, and this week has been no exception, with updates on the Sir Philip Green saga through to the unveiling of Selfridges’ highly anticipated Christmas windows.
We’ve selected some of the top stories, analysis and reports that have sparked conversation and debate in the Lightbulb Leadership Solutions offices.
Another day, another news story surrounding the disgraced ex-chief of BHS. Just yesterday, MPs backed a call for Sir Philip to be stripped of his knighthood. The three-hour debate saw MPs attacking Sir Philip across party lines, with Labour’s David Winnick branding him a “billionaire spiv who should never have received a knighthood. A billionaire spiv who has shamed capitalism”. The motion is not binding as any final decision would have to be taken by the Honours Forfeiture Committee.
As has been widely reported, Sir Philip sold BHS last year for just £1 before the British high street staple collapsed resulting in the loss of 11,000 jobs and carrying a £571 million pension deficit. The real question is whether this vote will spur Sir Philip on to put his hand in his pocket to cover the pension shortfall, or will he pull out of all negotiations and head for the hills?
Nestle has warned it’s likely to go the same way as Unilever and raise its prices to offset the weak pound. Following disappointing sales figures posted yesterday, the Swiss manufacturer has reduced its sales forecasts with predicted rises in the next nine months reduced to 3.5 per cent from 4.2 per cent. Unfortunately, retail analyst Nick Bubb said price hikes are inevitable and that shoppers need to get used to foreign food companies rising prices during the weak pound. So, for those of you who thought “Marmageddon” was the worst of it, think again.
Following a year of disappointing sales, the Gap Inc-owned Banana Republic will close all eight of its UK stores. A spokesperson for Banana Republic said these measures are part of a broader strategy the company outlined in May to “improve the company’s performance in the long-term”. Earlier this year the company announced it would be focussing on the North American market to revive sales. The news had the Lightbulb team questioning why Banana Republic failed to win over the UK. Was it a case of the store not moving with the times or is there just too much competition from cheaper fashion retailers on the high street?
Time to end on a lighter note because Santa Claus has come to London town thanks to Selfridges. Featuring in 12 out of 16 Christmas windows at Selfridges’ flagship store on Oxford Street, the Santa Claus statues have been arranged in various positions including one relaxing in a hot tub full of baubles and another disco dancing on a light-up dancefloor. Harvey Nichols is due to unveil its Christmas windows in early November followed by John Lewis. These high-end retailers are hoping their extravagant Christmas displays will attract those all-important international tourists who, in the last few months, have helped to boost revenue during a time when the pound is so weak.
Stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for our regular news updates covering a wide range of industries. If you have any questions or want to find out more about us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Lightbulb Leadership Solutions team today.