Mary Portas’ undercover Secret Shopper customer service programme resulted in an official complaint.

Play time

Kiddicare and Morrisons announced the first big retail deal of the year in a tie-up that was to help the grocer take its first steps online. Led by chief executive Dalton Philips, Morrisons bought the online childcare retailer to help develop its non-food and internet offers.

Kiddicare

Kiddicare

Mary Portas’ undercover Secret Shopper customer service programme resulted in an official complaint from Furniture Village chief executive Peter Harrison, who wrote to Channel 4’s board, calling the programme a “biased, ill-informed perversion of the truth”. While Portas’ aim was to go undercover to highlight poor service, retailers were angered by her tactics. She accused a member of staff at a Furniture Village store of encouraging customers to commit fraud by explaining how to make a claim on an insurance plan – which was refuted – while Harrison said she actively hunted out bad service and ignored anything positive.

“I do think that generally service in this country is appalling”

Mary Portas

Mary Portas

Away from the arguments, M&S’s poaching of multichannel ecommerce director Laura Wade-Gery attracted plenty of plaudits from analysts, who observed the powerful effect it could have on the retailer’s multichannel business. The exit of the former Tesco.com and Tesco Direct chief executive surprised the grocer.

JJB’s difficulties continued, with ongoing talks of a second company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in two years. The retailer was dealt a blow in the last week of the month after one of the UK’s largest landlords, Capital Shopping Centres, said it wouldn’t back the CVA.

A focus for the grocers in 2011 has been the development of a convenience offer, and The Co-op sparked a space race after it put 40 shops up for sale.

It wasn’t just Tesco and Sainsbury’s that were interested – both Waitrose and Morrisons launched or piloted their own convenience formats this year and Asda cemented its small store offer in 2011 following its acquisition of Netto stores. Morrisons also unveiled its plans to develop a new ‘store of the future’ after piloting a range of ideas in its three ‘lab’ stores in Leeds, York and Shrewsbury.

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Laura Wade-Gery

Laura Wade-Gery

M&S secured something of a coup with the appointment of Laura Wade-Gery, former chief executive of Tesco.com and Tesco Direct, as its executive director for multichannel ecommerce.

 

 

 

 

  • BRC retail sales figures -0.4%