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The Dark Retail Knights: Because they are the heroes we deserve and need right now…

Chris Long
5 Feb 2021

Senior Manager Chris Long takes a look at the heroes of retail who have emerged recently as saviours of the high street, the environment, and the fight against the pandemic. He reviews high street retail acquisitions and new environmental initiatives from this week, as well as new tactics which retailers are deploying to combat the proliferation of the pandemic.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of This Week in Retail where I get the honour of writing my first edit since joining the team last year (wish me luck!). This week’s theme is heroes, or more specifically, ‘Retail Knights in shining armour’, who this week have come to the rescue of our highstreets, environment and the pandemic.

High Street saviours

Since the collapse of the Arcadia Group many retailers have being eyeing the opportunity to scoop up some of the well-known high street brands and this week ASOS has come to the rescue of Topshop and Miss Selfridge as it agrees to buy the brands for £330m. The deal focuses on the online side of businesses saving 300 jobs and is a nice complement to ASOS’s current product offerings and customer based as is continues to increase its online fashion market share. Additionally, talks still continue for Arcadia’s other brands with Boohoo looking to secure Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton to build on its acquisition of Debenhams online which happened only just last week.
With still many Arcadia and Debenhams jobs at risk, it was also great to see another saviour in ALDI  this week as it urged Arcadia and Debenhams staff to apply to its 4000 new job positions as part of its aggressive expansion plan and £1.3bn investment in stores over the next 2 years.

Environment warriors

This week also saw retailers doing their bit for the environment; Ocado began trialling it’s pedal powered Zoom delivery service, H&M is expanding their second-hand clothing platform and Pret has decided to replace it’s meatball wrap with a vegan alternative due to growing demand (sorry meat lovers!). Nice to see continued innovative in this space and I’m sure there’s more to come as retailers continue to value the importance of sustainability with their customer base.

Pandemic defenders

Throughout the pandemic grocery retailers have been leading the way, keeping the country fed and safe when out on their weekly shop, and this week they were leading the charge again with Asda, Aldi, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Lidl all implementing new cash payment rules in a fight to reduce the infection spread. Also this week saw Boots begin delivering Coronavirus vaccinations at the Bluewater Shopping Centre, joining the front line with the NHS and helping accelerate the UK vaccination programme.

To finish off this week I leave you with the mega news of retail hero/villain (depending how you view him…) Jeff Bezos stepping down as Amazon CEO as he moves on to focus on other projects. After starting Amazon as an online book store out of his garage in 1994, Jeff has grown Amazon to be a $386bn a year business and leaves with an estimated fortune of $196bn!

Have a good weekend all and stay safe.