Sir Philip Green will make headlines whether he faces the parliamentary inquiry or not, and there’s hope for better news from Sainsbury’s and Argos.
This week BHS will continue to dominate headlines as tycoon Sir Philip Green is scheduled to appear before MPs investigating the department store chain’s collapse.
In more than 15 years of reporting on retail I have never known quite such a lurid story
George MacDonald, executive editor
In more than 15 years of reporting on retail I have never known quite such a lurid story, involving everything from alleged death threats to what seem to be highly questionable financial dealings.
Many people working in retail will think the appalling claims and counter claims being made are so unrepresentative of the industry that there is nothing to learn from the BHS saga – that it’s simply the business equivalent of an airport bookshop business thriller with which to while away a few hours.
But the big issue is the reputational damage that’s being done to the retail industry. And that affects everyone.
The difficulties of attracting talented, ambitious staff – especially those with the digital expertise so essential today – are well documented.
But what image of the retail industry is being created by the sorry tale of BHS, played out on TV and on front pages daily.
If you were a clever young person keen to get on and succeed in business, what would you make of the picture that’s been painted to the Parliamentarians?
You’d be forgiven for running a mile and seeking your fortunes in another industry.
So it’s incumbent now on everyone in retail to do all they can to tell the real story, about an industry offering a wealth of career opportunities across a wide range of disciplines from sales to the supply chain.
Whether it eventually proves a success or failure, it is all about brave thinking and trying to work out ways of serving consumers more effectively – and of course as a result making healthy profits.
What a contrast to the seedy stories told to the MPs last week was the letter from Argos-owner Home Retail chief executive John Walden to staff as he prepares to stand down.
Walden went over again the reasons for the deal and the progress made in turning Argos into a digitally led business.
But it was a personal line that struck me. He wrote to all his employees: “I believe in each of you, and have taken seriously my responsibility to help create a better future for you and your families.”
That was the real face of retail, and of responsible business.
Power List lands
Also coming this week, don’t miss the Retail Week Power List 2016 – our ranking of who’s making the running in this great industry. Tune in to Retail-Week.com/PowerList at 6am on Thursday morning to find out who tops the ranking.