Retailers across the North shop around for a successful strategy

Retail has kicked off a six month in-depth project examining how individual business sectors drive the Northern economy to attract investment and bolster prosperous regions.

The State of the Region project, supported by KPMG and Squire Patton Boggs, will focus on sectors including retail, technology and manufacturing.  This includes expert analysis and commentary, as well as interviews with leading firms in Yorkshire and the North West, and events featuring those key influencers in the marketplace.

There is no doubt that times are hard on the high street. But there have been bright spots, especially across Yorkshire, and the retail focus explores what retailers are doing to adapt to the challenging marketplace.

David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons told us:As a British retailer with a British supply chain, we’ve taken the opportunity to become more competitive for customers. Customers are strongly associating Morrisons with being British, and being committed to buying British.”

Meanwhile, John McNeill, Co-op divisional managing director for the north, said: “Our customers are living increasingly busy lives and want access to high quality fresh food and essentials on a much more frequent basis. For them, convenience is key and they shop “little and often” – food for now, food for later and top-up items.”

And the disruptive force of online retail continues to grow, with the UK’s largest players in the market reporting a 23% rise in sales last year.

Sue Richardson, KPMG North head of retail, added: “There are lots of conversations going on around the high street. The fact is people still like to touch and look and see, and get that shop experience.

“Stores are becoming more of a showroom and not necessarily the main place where you go and buy a product.

“Customers are also prepared to pay a decent amount of money to get a really good fulfilment service, delivering to a specific place at a specific time. That is something that retailers need to be really aware of.”

Matthew Lewis, head of retail at law firm Squire Patton Boggs, reflected on how the sector can attract and retain the millennial workforce.

He said: “The retail industry has a great platform to offer that exciting and stimulating environment. Retail, by its very nature, is dynamic and has to adapt to trends, and we are seeing that retailers that can track (or be ahead) of those trends are the ones that are successful and can attract and retain a skilled, engaged workforce.”

Read more in the State of the Region series.

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