It’s been a fascinating time to cover this brilliant industry

I’ve just finished what’s been a Friday ritual for me for quite a few years now, writing the John Lewis and Waitrose results for the Retail Week website. Seeing how all the individual stores have done and trying to analyse it and turn it into a story has for me become a bit like watching the football results on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe I need to get out more.

The rest of the team don’t understand why I enjoy doing it, but next week someone else will have to take it on as today is my last day as editor of Retail Week after seven hugely enjoyable years in charge. So forgive me for the slightly self-indulgent walk down memory lane which follows - I promise not to be offended if you stop reading now.

When I started at Retail Week in January 2005 the big story was the implosion of Allders which was going on before our eyes. Sadly it was to be the first of many high-profile collapses which we have covered during my time in charge, but it didn’t seem like it would be at the time - for most in retail those were happy days.

Indeed the first half of my time at Retail Week was a pretty happy period for UK retail. Credit-fuelled consumers were spending like there was no tomorrow, and the massive boom in corporate activity was making a lot of people in the industry very rich. Businesses were being bought and sold not always because they were good businesses but quite often as pawns in complex games of financial engineering. It couldn’t go on forever.

We came back to earth in 2008, and with what a bump. Without question the biggest story of my time in charge here was the collapse of Woolworths, and I remember the day it went into administration like it was yesterday. It was, like every Wednesday, press day, and we had to delay printing the magazine as we worked into the evening to get to the bottom of what was going on and produce a poignant front page of a shuttered Woolies on a black background, with the simple headline ‘Woolworths 1909-2008’. I think it was our current production editor Adam Richmond’s first week on the magazine, and one of his first tasks was to go over the road to Sainsbury’s to buy beer and crisps to keep us going.

Although in reality Woolies’ collapse had been on the cards for a while, I think most of us in retail would have to admit that no-one thought it would actually happen. It was too big, had too much history, was a fixture on too many high streets (800-odd in fact). But when the end came it was brutally quick. It was a massive wake up call which showed that no retailer has a divine right to exist. And it presaged a much harsher retail climate which persists to this day.

But retailers are the most responsive, resourceful people in business. They need to be, because today’s consumer is more demanding than ever - largely because retailers have raised the bar so high. In 2005 I recall one very well known figure in fashion retail telling me people wouldn’t buy clothes online in any significant numbers, but now everyone acknowledges the profound impact the web is having on retail. It’s disruptive, for sure, but its also just another channel. The fundamentals of retailing - product, service, price - remain the same. It’s just that shoppers’ expectations are higher than ever.

Retail is a great industry to cover, and Retail Week is lucky to have so many great friends in the industry. Clearing out my inbox over the last few days has reminded me of some of the good friends we’ve lost - Nigel Whittaker, Alison Richards, Richard Ratner, Nick Samuel, Anita Roddick. What makes retail so interesting to cover as a journalist - and I’m sure to work in - is both the immediacy and speed it moves at, and the energising characters who work in it. Whatever my next job was going to be, it had to involve retail and I’m really excited about my new challenge as a director of Brunswick, a leading corporate communications practice with some great retail clients.

My personal highlights have been the Retail Week Awards nights - the lifetime achievement awards to Ken Morrison and Terry Leahy particularly stick out in the memory. But I can honestly say coming to work every day has been a pleasure - no two days have every been the same and I’ve been lucky to work with some great people. To single out individuals is unfair but I can’t not mention George Macdonald, who is far better known and connected in the industry than I will ever be, and has been the most supportive deputy editor I could wish for, a great colleague and good friend. He will be taking the reins on an interim basis until a permanent editor is announced and I’m sure he will get the same great support I have from the industry.

It’s been great fun developing Retail Week’s online service, without question the most significant development of my time here. Our print edition will always be at the heart of the offer but retail doesn’t happen in seven day chunks and the web has enabled us to be much more responsive and allowed us to get to know a lot of our readers better, as, more recently, has Twitter. With the development of new services like Retail Week Knowledge Bank, and our reports business, Retail Week has a really bright future and I’m sure will continue to go from strength to strength.

I’ll be looking on with interest, as a reader now rather than as editor, and will still be on twitter talking about retail matters @timdanaher. But it’s time for someone else to have a turn in this chair, and while I really hope that I will cross paths with many Retail Week readers in the future, for now all that remains for me to say, to everyone who has made what we do possible, a very big thank you.