Retailers need to equip their staff with the right skills enabling them to tackle the uncertain future, John Lewis chief executive Charlie Mayfield believes.

Mayfield said due to the “huge” impact technology is having on the retail sector it is crucial retailers equip their people with the right skills to take advantage of rapid change in the industry, the John Lewis Partnership chairman said at the British Retail Consortium’s Annual Retail Lecture on Wednesday.

“The most important thing about any organisation is what lies sometimes undiscovered in your people,” he said.
Mayfield explained that over the past ten years and the ten years to come there have been the biggest changes to the retail sector since the major grocers began expanding rapidly and the rate of change is set to accelerate.

“[Retailers] see changes happening in real time and if we change with those changes there are actually huge opportunities but if we choose not to see them there’s real danger,” he added.
Mayfield said capability in using systems, developing supply chains, customer service and understanding customer trends were all key.

Mayfield said: “We are in the middle of huge, huge important change and that offers tremendous opportunities.
“We are  likely to underestimate how significant changes will be but as the leaders of retail businesses we have the responsibility to think into the future and plan and act to position our businesses for that future.”