The polarisation of the retail market was a key theme in May.
Superdry revealed plans to open a 55,000 sq ft flagship on Regent Street, previously occupied by Austin Reed. Boss Julian Dunkerton said it would allow it to expand its product range.
The polarisation of the retail market was a key theme in May. While Focus DIY collapsed into administration and electricals retailer Comet had to insist it wouldn’t go out of business, many of the biggest retailers continued to do well, with Next posting an unusually positive update as like-for-likes rose 5.2% in the first quarter to April 30. Those in food or fashion were more likely to find the going easier, but many of those in the furniture, electricals and entertainment sectors continued to bump along the bottom.
In the grocery sector it was all about developing the non-food offer. Tesco unveiled plans to start selling mainstream fashion brands on its fashion website to build its non-food credibility online, and Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said the grocer’s non-food sales were set to accelerate.
“We need to turn the business into a more customer-focused organisation”
Over at M&S, boss Marc Bolland was busy putting his vision for the brand into action following his three-month induction. His strategy included handing over more power to store staff in an attempt to improve customer experience. Bolland’s priorities started to emerge as he worked to improve core UK operations, develop the retailer’s multichannel offer and expand internationally. It was perceived to be a good tack to take in a difficult climate.
Home shopping group N Brown announced it was to try its hand in the bricks-and-mortar world with plans for three Simply Be stores in the Northwest. The news signified what would later develop into a common trend throughout 2012 – the increasing move of pure-play retailers into the physical retail space.
Also in May, Retail Week launched its Ditch the Directive campaign in response to the proposed European Consumer Rights Directive. Among the controversial requirements were plans to force all online retailers to offer free returns across the EU. It was soon called back for review, and a less controversial version was issued later in the year.
People in the news
Blacks poached Julia Reynolds, chief executive of online lingerie retailer Figleaves, to fill its top job. She replaced Neil Gillis who stood down in February.
- BRC retail sales figures -2.1%