Blog: Retail Week Conference in full-flow

Joe Ayling | 18 March 2009

just-style is in central London today for the RWC 09, where key executives are working out where exactly the UK high street is headed.

After a keynote address by supermarket chief Justin King, speakers have been attempting to define the changing UK retail landscape in the face of an unprecedented downturn.

Sainsbury's boss Justin King insists that a number of myths have arisen from the crisis - like consumers are trading down, being selfish or negating the middle ground.

King argues, for example, that shoppers not flocking from Harrods to Aldi shows they're not all trading down too much, and that the incredible donations to last weekend's Comic Relief charity event shows they're not being selfish.

And though his comments are more related to food retail, there are parallels with how fashion shopping habits are changing but with no hard and set rules.

For instance, while Sainsbury's is having to spend GBP4m more per year on Fairtrade organic bananas, the overwhelming success of Stella McCartney's Fairtrade Cotton red-nose T-shirts are a case in point too.

There is, however, an indication that middle market apparel retailers are losing some ground on value operators like Primark on one hand, and luxury firms like Burberry on the other.

Also speaking today were Debenhams chairman John Lovering and New Look executive chairman Phil Wrigley, who gave an interesting account of the fashion retailer's international plans.

There will be more blogs and news to follow from the event, not to mention tweets on our new Twitter page, so stay twuned.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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