As the extent of Brexit’s impact on consumer confidence is debated, we seek inspiration from a retail legend in these turbulent times.
The Brexit vote has prompted plenty of discussion about what the retail fall-out may be, whether it’s where the pound will settle or what the impact will be on consumer confidence.
On Friday there may be more insight on the latter point when the latest monthly Gfk data on consumer sentiment will be published.
No matter what side of the Brexit debate people are on, there seems to be little dispute that we’re in for a period of uncertainty – the main difference of opinion is how long it might last.
Retailers have successfully navigated uncertainty before, and will do so again. In turbulent times though, a bit of inspiration is in order, which is at the heart of Retail Week’s purpose.
We always seek to reflect and promote the sort of retail brilliance that makes you want to spring out of bed in the morning and get to work.
So we’re delighted to launch this Wednesday the first in a video series, Legends, in which we speak to some of the great characters who have transformed the retail landscape.
The highs and lows of a buccaneering business career
In the first I meet Lord Kalms, who built Dixons from a couple of photo studios into a market-leading electricals business. He did it in the aftermath of the Second World War in a time of austerity – testament to his entrepreneurial flair.
It was fascinating to hear from him how he discovered an ‘El Dorado’ in the Far East that enabled him to develop a ground-breaking own-label offer, about the highs and lows of a buccaneering business career, and the creation of a culture open to new ideas such as the creation of Freeserve – a runaway success in the early years of ecommerce.
Lord Kalms told me that one of the biggest changes in retail was the quality of people that retail can now attract. “Today, my God, the kids are good,” he said.
Whatever the uncertainty that Brexit brings, surely the best retailers will succeed not just because of their executional excellence, but because they have a culture that brings out the best in their people at every level – whether in the warehouse or the boardroom. In the wake of the Sports Direct inquiry, that’s worth remembering.
The Lord Kalms interview is in two parts – the second will be online on Thursday.
We have more interviews with some of the biggest names in retail lined up for Legends.
As potentially volatile times loom, we hope Legends will offer practical insights and a sense of vision that will inspire and enable retailers to steer a successful course.