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Retail Week
Robert Clark

Robert Clark is senior partner of Retail Week Knowledge Bank.

  • Comment: Home Retail Group needs more emphasis on click-and-collect

    December 2 2011

    Home Retail Group is far from the only high-profile retailer facing declining fortunes and Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile tracks the detail and analyses the numbers behind the headlines for both Argos and Homebase.
  • Can Somerfield acquisition reverse The Co-op's fortunes?

    November 25 2011

    The Co-operative Group greatly increased its food retailing scale by acquiring Somerfield, hot on the heels of merging with the United Co-op.
  • Recovery not yet complete for Sainsbury's

    November 11 2011

    Sainsbury’s recovery has been an extended affair but is yet to be completed as Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s updated profile demonstrates.
  • Hard times for Frozen Value

    November 4 2011

    Back in May we noted that the four leading frozen food specialists had collectively been outperforming the wider supermarket sector.
  • Jack Wills - Britain’s answer to Abercrombie & Fitch?


    Is Jack Wills Britain’s answer to Abercrombie & Fitch? Can it successfully challenge the latter in its home territory or, indeed, elsewhere in the world?
  • David Wild leads Halfords to success


    The continually evolving but highly profitable Halfords is one of the more complex, but certainly most instructive, case studies of recent British retailing.
  • Substantial challenge ahead for Waterstone's


    One of the most intriguing conundrums in UK retailing is Alexander Mamut’s prospects for reviving Waterstone’s, which he has entrusted to James Daunt, the highly regarded owner of a much smaller, seven-strong, London-centric competitor.
  • Laura Ashley’s impressive revival

    October 7 2011

    Despite a chequered history, descending from quintessential UK design icon of the 1960s and 1970s, enjoying international acceptance in the 1980s to spending much of the 1990s in deep trouble, Laura Ashley’s originally faltering but impressive 2000s revival is a textbook example of retail really being detail.
  • Fat Face thrives under new management

    September 30 2011

    Little over a year ago, one wondered whether Fat Face, the lifestyle fashion retailer, had run its course.
  • French Connection is an enigma of UK fashion retailing


    It experienced exceptional sales growth from the late 1990s on the back of the controversial FCUK advertising campaign until 2003/04, when it dramatically ran out of steam.
  • In focus: C&J Clark and Robert Dyas

    September 16 2011

    What have C&J Clark and Robert Dyas in common? Apart from long histories, each has been led more recently by Roger Pedder.
  • In focus: Uniqlo

    September 9 2011

    Uniqlo UK is the main European component of Fast Retailing, Japan’s casualwear phenomenon of the 1990s that broke its domestic market mould by sourcing from China, working closely with a handful of suppliers to wow the Japanese with low price but good quality clothing.
  • In Focus: Tesco

    August 19 2011

    Updating Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s Tesco profile is no mean task, as befits the world’s third biggest retailer.
  • In focus: JJB

    August 12 2011

    JJB’s decline has been perhaps the most precipitous in recent UK retail history.
  • In focus: Signet


    Signet’s Bermuda registration, plus changing its primary listing to the NYSE, makes performance analysis no easier for a group whose UK operations, whichever way they are calculated, account for a declining proportion of the total.
  • In focus: Abercrombie & Fitch

    July 29 2011

    Recent Retail Week Knowledge Bank subscriber searches indicate strong interest in both Abercrombie & Fitch and sub-brand Hollister.
  • In focus: Arcadia

    July 22 2011

    Coinciding with the ending of Kate Moss and Jamie Hince’s honeymoon on Sir Philip Green’s yacht – and with Kate Moss’s Topshop collections now history – Retail Week Knowledge Bank has been undertaking the more prosaic exercise of updating its Arcadia and Bhs profiles in the wake of the financial marriage of these high-profile institutions of UK retailing.
  • In focus: Amazon

    July 15 2011

    Amazon’s agreement to acquire The Book Depository and the UK competition authorities’ prospective interest offers the chance to revisit Amazon’s lack of reporting of details of its UK business performance.
  • In focus: French Connection

    July 8 2011

    French Connection is restructuring and Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile update analyses its progress.
  • In focus: New Look

    July 1 2011

    Until 2010, New Look was one of fashion retailing’s winners, enjoying double-digit sales growth in five of the previous six years and consistently high operating margins
  • In focus: Monsoon Accessorize

    June 24 2011

    Monsoon Accessorize faces more issues than most retailers, many assessed in Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s update of Peter Simon’s international womenswear and accessories chain.
  • In focus: Game


    Despite enjoying an enviable position as the UK and Europe’s leading video games specialist, Game Group, subject of a Retail Week Knowledge Bank profile update, is suffering from falling sales and profits after both peaked in 2008/09.
  • In focus: Maplin Electronics

    June 10 2011

    In its updated profile of Maplin Electronics, Retail Week Knowledge Bank details Maplin’s stellar long-term performance, growing sales from below £50m at the end of the 1990s to more than £200m 10 years later.
  • In focus: WHSmith

    June 3 2011

    WHSmith remains a retailing enigma.
  • In focus: Morrisons

    May 27 2011

    So Morrisons is mulling over a bid for Iceland. Retail Week Knowledge Bank has just updated its profile of the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain, analysing its performance in the first year under new chief executive Dalton Philips.
  • In Focus: Waitrose and Ocado

    May 20 2011

    Mark Price has made his mark on various fronts since taking the helm at Waitrose. In addition to introducing the successful Essential range the store network has continued to grow, while the new convenience and market town stores challenge Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food.
  • In Focus: Frozen food retailers

    May 13 2011

    The frozen food specialists seem to be benefiting from current market conditions. Retail Week Knowledge Bank has recently updated its Farmfoods profile and added a new profile for Frozen Value.
  • In Focus: Evans Cycles


    It is refreshing to welcome a dynamic new specialist sector leader to Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s coverage: Evans Cycles.
  • In Focus: Blue Inc


    The news that menswear fashion chain Blue Inc has taken on 46 Officers Club stores following the latter’s administration reminds me of when I first tried to find out about Blue Inc’s predecessor, Mr Byrite, a regional chain shrouded in secrecy.
  • In Focus: FOCUS

    April 1 2011

    Recently I highlighted the exceptional £4,900 per sq ft sales densities achieved by Richer Sounds. This time it is the opposite end of the density spectrum.
  • In Focus: Peacocks

    February 25 2011

    Primark may epitomise the rapid development of UK value retailing, but entering the new millennium, Matalan and George at Asda sales exceeded Primark’s, while Peacocks was not far behind, passing £200m a year and a close fourth in what was a burgeoning segment.
  • In Focus: The White Company

    February 18th 2011

    The White Company has cut its distinctive, bleached swath across the upmarket homewares field in recent years, at least until 2009 when recession finally cut annual sales growth.
  • In Focus: Edinburgh Woollen Mill

    February 4, 2011

    Edinburgh Woollen Mill, whose Retail Week Knowledge Bank profile has been updated, is an example of a maturing retailer that has been evolving against a background of market vagaries. Despite its diversification being questioned, it seems to be paying off.
  • In Focus: Poundstretcher


    Poundstretcher has become one of the forgotten names of UK retailing, despite being a significant player in the evolution of the variety store into value retailing.
  • In Focus: Halfords

    November 26 2010

    Updating Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s Halfords profile brought the opportunity to reflect on Halfords’ move earlier this year back into car servicing, acquiring Nationwide Autocentres with 224 servicing and repair centres.
  • In Focus: Amazon

    November 19 2010

    Updating Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile of Amazon UK presents more problems than most. Why? Because Amazon does not have a UK corporate entity reporting its financials.
  • In Focus: Blacks Leisure

    November 12 2010

    The saga of Blacks Leisure’s problems seems to have been playing for years, despite the favourable longer-term conditions of healthier lifestyles and outdoor pursuits, boosted by rising disposable incomes being spent on active short breaks.
  • In Focus: Alliance Boots

    November 5 2010

    Alliance Boots now boasts more than 500 stores outside the UK, as detailed in Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile update of a UK retail icon that just a few years ago was being tagged as one of Britain’s legacy retailers.
  • In Focus: Asos

    October 22, 2010

    Recent figures from Asos have sharpened the focus on the internet as a key to retailing’s globalising future.
  • In Focus: Holland & Barrett

    October 15, 2010

    Name a leading food retailer with healthy double digit margins? There’s a clue in the question.
  • In Focus: Matalan

    October 8, 2010

    The pending departure of Alistair McGeorge puts the spotlight on a pioneer of value retailing in the UK. Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s recently updated profile addresses whether Matalan, celebrating its silver jubilee, has reached maturity.
  • In Focus: Grabal Alok (UK)

    October 1, 2010

    Grabal Alok (UK) might not mean much to many UK market-watchers, but it is the resting place of two value clothing format pioneers - QS and Bewise - with other names from retail history thrown in for good measure.
  • In Focus: Findel

    September 24, 2010

    For years Findel was a well-respected, profitable home shopping and educational supplies business. Group sales hit £300m in 2002, peaking at close to £650m six years later.
  • In focus: Original Factory Shop

    September 17, 2010

    The origin of The Original Factory Shop was selling overruns and seconds produced by Peter Black Holdings, which manufactured a wide range of own-label footwear, handbags, cosmetics, etc, mainly for M&S.
  • In Focus: Supergroup

    September 10, 2010

    There have been two retail IPOs to date this year, Ocado and SuperGroup. Their fortunes in share price terms have so far gone in opposite directions, with Ocado’s floundering, and SuperGroup’s price doubling.
  • In Focus: Net-a-Porter

    September 3, 2010

    Surely for those affluent ladies it is largely about service in the shops in Bond Street or upmarket department stores?
  • In Focus: American Golf Discount Centre

    August 27, 2010

    American Golf Discount Centre is the UK’s largest specialist golf retailer, the name inherited when Howard and Robert Bilton acquired their first retail store, having previously traded from a garden shed at their golf club.
  • In Focus: Mole Valley Farmers


    Rural retailing generally receives little publicity but the spotlight flickered over it recently with the news that the largest player, Mole Valley Farmers, had acquired the 11-store farming supplies business CWG.
  • In Focus: L Rowland

    August 13, 2010

    L Rowland & Company (Retail) Ltd neither slips easily off the tongue nor sparks recognition as being among Britain’s top 50 or so largest retailers. Yet Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s profile update shows in the year to January Rowland hit sales of £526.5m as the UK’s third largest pharmacist - behind Boots and Lloydspharmacy, but ahead of the Co-op.
  • In focus: Ocado

    July 30, 2010

    Now that the Ocado IPO dust has settled what, if any, are the lingering problem areas?
  • In Focus: Steinhoff

    July 23, 2010

    Furniture is retail’s hardest hit sector in a recession. High-profile names such as MFI, Land of Leather and The Pier have disappeared, ScS went into administration but survived and all have struggled. But one group seems to have bucked the trend, at least in turning itself around from four years of substantial losses into respectable profitability in its two latest years.
  • In Focus: 99p Stores

    July 16, 2010

    The demise of Woolworths keeps reverberating around the retail trade. The single-price stores benefited on two counts: picking up ex-Woolworths customers and acquiring former Woolworths stores in good locations at favourable rates.
  • In focus: Sainsbury’s

    July 2, 2010

    Retail Week Knowledge Bank’s recent Sainsbury’s profile update highlights this issue for a business that has arguably been buying sales growth and market share at the expense of fully restoring operating margins
  • In Focus: Monsoon

    June 25, 2010

    Clothing and accessories retailer Monsoon has been caught in a domestic storm as UK profits have suffered while management is focused on creating a global brand.
  • In Focus: B&M Bargains

    June 18, 2010

    B&M is the chain more than any other that our contacts have remarked that they have begun to notice, but about which they know very little.
  • Top 50 retailers: Retail’s premier league


    It’s 18 months since Retail Week’s last look at the UK’s top retailers by sales and margins and much has changed in that time. Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark reports


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