“The UK’s retail sector is undergoing rapid structural changes"

“The UK’s retail sector is undergoing rapid structural changes"

The first industry-led retail council has been launched to look at ways of boosting sector growth as it adapts to changing consumer habits and industry challenges.

The Council will meet regularly with industry to review the business environment and opportunities such as the development of new technologies to improve customer service, the chances to grow skills through a sector push on high-value training and ways to boost sector productivity and its economic health.

Nick Beighton, CEO of Asos, Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, and Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium are among the senior management that will sit on the Council. Together, with government, they will provide expert advice to the sector and contribute to its future direction.

"The UK's retail sector is undergoing rapid structural changes with consumers increasingly favouring online shopping and rising operating costs for retailers," said Retail Minister Andrew Griffiths. "Our new collaborative Retail Sector Council will bring government and industry together to look at how best to ensure the industry adapts to meet the changing demands of consumers."

Richard Pennycook, co-chair of the Retail Sector Council, added: "I am delighted to be co-chairing the first Retail Sector Council, which comes at a moment of unprecedented change for our sector. Retail is one of the largest private sector employers in the country, and the Council will provide strategic oversight of the challenges we are facing by seeking positive change and increased productivity.

"We will be working together with industry and government to deliver our vision for the future of retail."

The formation of the council follows other government action to create a "Britain fit for the future" including the government's response to the independent Taylor Review, which ensures employment law and practices keep pace with the modern ways of working, and its Industrial Strategy, which sets out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of businesses and people throughout the UK."

In 2016, the retail sector added a gross value of GBP94.6bn (US$130.8bn) to the UK economy; the new Council will aim to address key sector issues including skills and increasing productivity.