Sunday, 17 February 2008

Retail Think Tank gets it right

Well it might seem a bit much a mere mortal pouring blessings on the words of the wise but I remember a conversation that I had with my then Managing Director; I warned that our then current policy of continually discounting heavily on specific ranges would have the effect of reducing our capability of responding robustly to changes in the market.

My warning was in about 1989 and related to the sports department in the department store in which I was then responsible for all operational matters. It was said in the context of the then wars that existed in the sports trade which saw a wholesale culling of many, especially SME, names that had previously existed on our high streets. As a consequence we stopped trying to play the game and identified niches that matched the rest of our business and traded on function and quality and especially on service. It remains a philosophy which is destined to win for SMEs.

It is true that there are many more complex economic problems facing SMEs, and the market dominance of fewer and fewer mega-retailers is a significant one, but it is still not impossible for SMEs to trade effectively and profitably if the retailer is absolutely clear about their market segment and their intended audience.

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