This Week in Retail : the High Street isn’t dead yet

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Hi Everyone, Happy Easter and welcome to This week in Retail. We have an action packed, (and surprisingly positive) edition this week with stories ranging from how a sustainability push at Tesco is paving the way for more success on their remarkable comeback story, to how luxury retailers across the globe can learn a lesson in customer experiences from the world’s most isolated high-end restaurant 7 hours from Stockholm. Not to mention the nation’s apparent addiction to Primark, identified as Primania.

We start this week looking at one of the standout stories of success; JD Sports. The retailer has announced strong results this week with profits up 15% to £340m and a surging stock price valuing their market placement at over £5.5bn, dwarfing rival Sports Direct and overtaking high street stalwarts such as M&S. Their inevitable rise into the FTSE 100 has been put down to a number of factors ranging from complementary acquisitions and international expansion, to their agility in reacting to fashion trends within the athleisurewear sector. Along with a strong omni-channel proposition, using a range of digital devices in-store and having some great home delivery options, the future looks bright for the group. Whilst on the topic of strong performance, we also have a good read this week on Tesco – as Stoyan also explored in last week’s edition, they certainly aren’t doing badly. This article talks of how Tesco can increase their consumer appeal by focusing on their sustainability agenda, building on a number of initiatives that are in progress.

Much in the mould of JD Sports, Primark are one of the retailers bucking the high street trend of closing stores. Last week they opened the largest store in their global estate in Birmingham. The store is nothing short of staggering in a number of respects. The store spans five floors across 160,000 square feet (a decent sized warehouse for most retailers) and includes a barber, beauty centre, two restaurants, a custom personalisation lab, a recycling facility for old clothes and a Disney zone with a café and play area for children. One of my favourite articles this week looks at this success within Primark in what is dubbed “Primania” due to the public’s clear desire to shop there across many demographics. The piece talks about the 3 areas that Primark have started to focus on, showcased by this new store in Birmingham; efficiency, experience and environmental impact. The latter is a particularly interesting angle to take due to negative press surrounding fast fashion, but they shout loud and clear about their strong CSR credentials from sourcing sustainable materials, all the way through to paying their staff fairly. The jury is out…

Before we let you depart for your long weekend, it’s definitely worth taking a look at an opinion piece we have included this week on returns (coincidentally one of my favourite retail themes). The most recent message sent to ASOS customers making it clear that those thought to be abusing their generous returns policy would be barred from ordering certainly caused a stir. Nevertheless, it raised the common question of how returns can be managed effectively in reducing high costs whilst truly giving the customer the choice they demand. The answer may be enhancing the technology available to reduce the impact of ill-fitting clothes (think Fit Assistant at ASOS) or simply removing free returns options. In the meantime, I wouldn’t worry too much about ordering 6 sizes of the same item…


Have a great Bank Holiday and Easter!



Nick Graham

Senior Consultant, Retail Supply Chain

Area of interest : Digital Fulfilment Operations and Logistics

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