Coronavirus: Cash, agility and customer focus will mark retail’s winners

George MacDonald

The likely collapse into administration of Laura Ashley is not solely the result of coronavirus. The pandemic was sadly the last nail in the coffin of a retailer that has struggled to appeal to shoppers for some time.

And Laura Ashley’s looming demise is unfortunately likely to be followed by other retailers in similarly dire straits.

Conditions for retailers were already harsh and coronavirus has made them brutal. Restrictions on everyday life reminiscent of wartime are hitting even the best businesses – there’s little WHSmith can do, for instance, when key trading locations such as airports lie deserted. There’s little that retailers operating on the continent can do when governments order lockdowns and store closures.

But those that have performed best over the last few years are the most strongly positioned to emerge on the other side and rebuild.

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