Opinion: What past battles tell us about keeping retailers in business

Bath shopping street

Even before this week’s more draconian ‘social distancing’ guidance from the government, retailers were in uncharted territory.

Those I spoke to reported weekend trading down anywhere between 20% and 50% year on year, a pattern also seen by the hospitality sector. With trade for many retailers now set to drop to virtually zero, we face a situation none of us have seen before.

For retail leaders heading into these nightmare times, and for government and society more generally, what lessons can we learn from previous turnaround battles?

The first, and most important, is that the KPIs that matter to your business have changed completely. Success is no longer about profit, or margin, or return on investment. Your world is now all about cash. It isn’t a lack of profit that drives a business under, it is a lack of cash.

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