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Stuart O'Brien


Microsoft confirms Oxford Circus store debut

Tech giant Microsoft has confirmed it will be opening its first store at London’s Oxford Circus.

After years of speculation, the move will see Microsoft open its first bricks and mortar retail premises in the UK, occupying the site formerly held by United Colours Of Benton at 255-259 Regent Street.

Following a series of successful store openings in the US, the announcement will bring an end to the search of a flagship store in the UK.

Discussing the move with Retail Week, Microsoft UK boss Cindy Rose said: “We couldn’t be happier to be opening a flagship store in the heart of central London at Oxford Circus, where two of the world’s most iconic shopping streets meet.”

“We know our customers and fans, whether they are from London, the broader UK or just visiting, will love our bold plans for the space.

“This will be so much more than just a great place to experience all that is possible with Microsoft, but a real hub for the community where we’ll be bringing to life our passion for helping people explore their creativity through an ambitious program of workshops and training along with moments that work to unite the community.”

The store will offer a variety of digital training programmes, free workshops and the opportunity to participate in Xbox game design sessions.


New end-to-end tech platform for retailers rolls out

Worldwide Chain Stores (WCS) and retail software company Celtech have partnered to offer an end-to-end technology platform that will benefit both retailers and wholesalers.

The integration between Celtech’s and WCS’ leading solutions for retail and warehouse management offers retailers and wholesalers a powerful integrated, end-to-end retail and warehouse solution, ‘out of the box.’

The result of the collaboration means that customers will now have maximum visibility of their entire supply chain within the context of a sophisticated retail and warehouse management system. Both firms have agreed to deliver a seamless integration between each of their respective products, CSnx and ab-initio.

WCS, a supplier of supply chain and logistics technology has an established 20-year relationship with Celtech, whose software delivers live visibility and instant control to retail and wholesale operations. Celtech’s ab-initio is the core trading platform for some of the UK’s biggest retail chains and independent wholesale groups.

Darragh Fanning, managing director of Celtech commented: “It’s become clear that the synergies between our organisations are perfect for this type of technological collaboration. Celtech has a proven and powerful solution for retailers and wholesalers who are continuing to face complex challenges in a highly dynamic retail market. Working together to offer an ‘out of the box’ offering, means we are able to offer our customers a next generation WMS platform that fits perfectly with all the benefits they get from our mission critical software application.”

WCS CEO Joshila Makan added: “We strive to offer our customers best-in-class products that deliver true value for money, and this collaboration will ensure we can offer a fully integrated, end-to-end solution for our customers that gives them clear visibility across the whole supply chain. We’re especially excited to align with Celtech given our culture and synergies are so well aligned.”

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Secure your place at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Make sure you secure your place at next year’s Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit, which takes place on February 5th & 6th at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted.

As a leading industry professional, your complimentary VIP invitation includes a personalised itinerary with trusted suppliers, an inspiring seminar programme on relevant hot topics, plus opportunities to network with your peers.

You’ll also enjoy full hospitality throughout, including meals, overnight accommodation and an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment.

Here are just some 0f the attending suppliers you could meet:

Alchemy Expo – Digital Printing
Arno GB – Retail Brand Experience
CA Design Services – Retail Design
Compact Lighting – Lighting
Graphicdisplay – Graphics
Harte Woodworking – Design & Manufacture
Harlequin Design – Design
HMY – Shopfitting
Illuma Lighting – LIghting
Kendu – In-Store Visual Solutions
Key Finance – Shopfit Funder
KN Shopfitters – Shopfitting
Leach – Display Graphics
Magrini/CAEM – Shelving Systems & Retail Services
Retail House Solutions – Design & Manufacture

Register for your free place HERE

Or contact Victoria Petch today on 01992 374085 / for more information on how to attend.

Alternatively, if you’re a supplier to the sector, contact Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 or to find out about a range of event partner packages.

Brightcove Retail Video

EU retailers ‘planning futures as media companies’

New research from Brightcove shows that 81 per cent of European retailers are planning for a future as a media company, with 85 per cent already looking for ways to target consumers in their homes with original content.

In ‘The Future of Retail: Streaming into Your Living Room‘ the video streaming specialist compared the responses of 200 retail decision makers and 2,000 consumers across the UK, France and Germany.

The research, which Brightcove has been detailing at the IBC trade show in Amsterdam, explored the extent to which retailers are experimenting with TV-like digital video experiences to engage with their audiences, and gauge subsequent consumer readiness.

Having seen the likes of Iceland and Matalan (plus brands such as Red Bull) take the lead in terms of content generation, nearly all the retailers surveyed said they are already delivering some form of ‘lean-back’ content offering

Top cited campaign benefits include:

  • Increased revenues (66 per cent)
  • Customers buying a wider range of products (50 per cent)
  • Increased website traffic (45 per cent)

However, retailers also highlighted concerns about content creation, including not having the right in-house skills inhouse (29 per cent), lack of content (28 per cent) and uncertainty about the ROI (25 per cent).

Mark Blair, VP of EMEA at Brightcove, said: “In recent years, video has established itself as an absolute must-have component in any digital marketing strategy, but as driving meaningful consumer engagement becomes ever more difficult, brands are looking for new ways to unlock additional revenue streams. And this has turned their attention to the living room.

“For retailers and brands to be truly successful in what is traditionally the broadcasters’ domain, they must first understand that it’s as much about the quality of the content they’re producing as it is how they are delivering it. Our data revealed that 39 per cent of the European consumers that haven’t watched branded ‘lean-back’ content simply haven’t come across it – only 29 per cent have been served TV-like content from brands via advertising and less than a quarter (24 per cent) as a result of direct targeting.

“For brands, it’s about treading the fine line between being salesy and informative, entertaining and relevant, and matching content output with consumer demand. If they are able to get this balance right, a wealth of revenue and engagement opportunities will be ready and waiting for them.”

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Discover new ideas at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Attending exhibitions is tiring. Sore feet from pounding expo halls, trying to catch people’s eye, over-priced coffee, taxi queues.

But there is another way to discover new ideas and source new suppliers…

The Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit – which takes place on February 5th & 6th at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted – is nothing like an expo. As one of our VIP guests, you will spend two days meeting with relevant suppliers based on a pre-arranged itinerary that suits your requirements and upcoming projects.

It’s entirely free for you to attend and you’ll also get access to our inspiring seminar sessions, while all hospitality – including overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our gala dinner – is entirely complimentary.

Coffee is free and we guarantee you won’t get sore feet.

Register for your free place HERE

Or contact Victoria Petch today on 01992 374085 / for more information and to secure your place.

Alternatively, if you’re a supplier to the sector, contact Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 or to find out about a range of event partner packages.


Retail spending in August reaches two-year high


New statistics have revealed that Britons choosing to holiday at home and an influx of tourists created an increase in spending through the month of August.


The survey, commissioned by accountancy firm BDO found that UK like-for-like sales values rose 2% in August after falling 0.6% in July, the biggest rise since September 2015 and the strongest performance in an August for four years.


The survey highlighted a particularly strong performance for lifestyle goods, with sales rising 3.1% year-on-year as a result of increasing numbers of foreign tourists and “stay-at-home holidaymakers.”


Fashion sales also saw a new high since November 2016, increasing by 1.5%, along with homeware sales which were up by 1.9%.


“As school terms begin after the summer break and the start of festive trading nears, retailers will be gearing up for their most critical trading months,” said Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO.


“The uncertain environment and fragile consumer sentiment requires all retailers to be ever more strategic with their pricing and promotional activities.”


A separate survey by the British Retail Consortium also revealed that retail sales had grown by an annual 1.3% on a like-for-like basis, but warned that growth in volume terms was weaker than in the previous 12 months.


Scottish retail figures on the up after disappointing summer

Figures released by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) found that retail sales improved through Scotland in August after a tough summer.

Total sales grew by 1.3% in August after deflation adjustment, which was up on the three and 12 month averages. Food sales boosted total sales with an increase of 4.1%, compared to a decrease of 0.3% in August 2016.

There was a decline of 1.5% of total non-food sales through August; however this was offset when compared to a decrease of 3.7% in August 2016.

Speaking about the figures, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs for SRC said that the figures were good news “on the surface,” but warned that the year-on-year food sales was driven in part by food inflation of 1.3%.

“Retailers will welcome these figures after a pretty disappointing summer,” added Russell.

“However, the underlying challenges facing the industry, not least the continued pressure on household incomes and fragile consumer confidence, mean Government should be very careful about any policies which could lead to increases to the cost of living.”

Craig Cavin, head of retail in Scotland for KPMG, commented: “Grocery sales lead the charge once again, with a 4.1% year on year increase bringing the 12-month average to its highest level for more than three years.

“With August bringing children’s return to school, the Edinburgh Festival and the release of autumn clothing ranges, non-food’s recent poor performance received a late summer boost, with online sales nudging the category into growth.”

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Research reveals the power of persuasive labels

New research by printing specialist Avery UK has revealed just how much labels matter when it comes to consumer decisions and customer loyalty.

Working with an established behavioural psychologist, Avery UK tested consumer response to small business label designs to reveal how certain elements can encourage positive reactions to the items they are attached to.

The study explored important aspects for anyone selling goods either online or face-to-face. It considered how various label designs affected how much someone was willing to pay; how they made people feel towards a company and how likely test subjects were to make a repeat purchase.

Fiona Mills, marketing director at Avery UK said: “This has been ground-breaking research for us. We suspected there was more to the science of label design than might first meet the eye, but the discoveries have been extremely enlightening. We can now speak with the utmost authority to say that labels really do make a difference to the performance of small businesses.”

The research included three scientific approaches to understand what makes a successful label. A literature review of 159 academic papers about previously conducted research helped to identify the gaps in knowledge and shape the rest of the study.

Mills added:“While we don’t recommend businesses stick labels on their packages for the sake of it, there is a clear business case for going above and beyond a simple plain address label. An address label, a company brand label, a return address label and a friendly special message label will give enough space to get across the important information, your brand, your professionalism and your heart for your valued customer.”

To read the full report click here

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Tesco executives trial adjourned

Three former Tesco executives charged with fraud by abuse of position and false accounting have had their trial adjourned until September 25th.

The trio – UK managing director Christopher Bush, ex-finance director Carl Rogberg and ex-commercial director John Scouler – were charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in September 2016, pleading not guilty in a hearing in August.

The trial is expected to last 10-12 weeks, with a possible prison sentence of seven to 10 years if found guilty. Lawyers acting for Bush, Rogberg and Scouler have  entered a plea of not guilty.

The scandal was the result of Tesco revealing that it had overstated profits by £263 million in its half-year results, with the trio among eight senior Tesco staff members suspended after the false accounting emerged.

The subsequent scandal following the false accounting had a negative effect on Tesco’s share price and sparked a series of lawsuits from investors who claimed they had lost millions after buying shares based on the original account information.

The supermarket giant was hit by a £129m fine and ordered to pay compensation to its shareholders by the Financial Conduct Authority.


BRC warns of gaps on shelves post Brexit

Trade association the British Retail Consortium has warned that Brexit brings the possibility of food shortages if the UK does not resolve issues around customs processes.

The report by BRC claims that the choice and availability of affordable, quality products for consumers is at risk without additional agreements and investment to supplement a customs deal. It added that significant investment in ports, roads and transport infrastructure needs to be in place when Brexit happens, and that agreements must also be signed to prevent goods being held up at ports and docks through red tape.

The BRC also stated that European supply chains are a key part to delivering the goods into the UK.

“A strong deal on customs is absolutely essential to deliver a fair Brexit for consumers,” commented Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC.

“Whilst the Government has acknowledged the need to avoid a cliff-edge after Brexit day, a customs union in itself won’t solve the problem of delays at ports. So, to ensure supply chains are not disrupted and goods continue to reach the shelves, agreements on security, transit, haulage, drivers, VAT and other checks will be required to get systems ready for March 2019.

“We want to work with the Government to develop a system which works for consumers, so that there’s no difference in terms of the availability of affordable, quality products when they make purchases or visit stores post-Brexit. We believe our recommendations will help to achieve that and enable our world-leading retail industry to continue serving customers and contribute to the growth of the UK economy.”