Retail Week Conference 2011: Quote/unquote
Over the past two days just-style attended the Retail Week Conference 2011 in London. Key themes included the consumer environment, price inflation, emerging markets and e-commerce. Here is a collection of comments from the event.
"It is the consumer trend which is of more concern to us as retailers than the general economic trend. I wish there was an easy answer but it is going to be tough. We can carry on succeeding in what is going to be a very difficult consumer outlook, but will need new formulas for growth as consumer spend declines" - Andy Hornby, CEO of Alliance Boots.
"Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. Our retail industry has changed a lot, but consumers don't feel in control of what is changing" - Richard Brasher, UK CEO of Tesco.
"This time a year ago many people I spoke to were as pessimistic as they are today, but things turned out to be better. That is possible again, particularly if manufacturing continues to do as well as it has been. If that is the case then people will be able to smile again, albeit not quite as much as they used to in the retail world" - Jim O'Neill, asset management chairman of Goldman Sachs.
"The pillars of quality, price and community stand as strong today as they always have had. Let's face it we've had it easy in the past, when the world economy expanded so quickly it would have been harder to fail than succeed. The world is now changing in a way in which we have very little control. None of us have a crystal ball but we all know that commodity prices are more likely to come up than go down" - Andy Clarke, president and CEO of Asda.
"I can see prices continue to inflate in the clothing market. There then comes the debate about elasticity and what happens to volumes and I think the key thing for our business is price relativity. Retailers who don't understand that in the clothing market are going to struggle this year" - Rob Templeman, CEO of Debenhams.
"Price inflation will become the norm in all categories" - Brian Kalms, managing partner at Accenture.
"There is an explosion in developing markets round the world. If you have a brand that travels well it is an enormous opportunity" - Ben Gordan, CEO of Mothercare.
"Retail has changed rapidly but the fundamentals have stayed the same. Our stores are right at the heart of our business" - Simon Russell, head of multi-channel at John Lewis.
"We're getting increasingly excited by online and multi-channel. The customer is demanding convenience and demanding a voice in terms of the way we operate on a day-to-day basis. We've got to be much better at how we deliver that" - Carl McPhail, CEO of New Look.
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