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Stuart O'Brien


How much do the top earners in retail actually earn?

New analysis by salary benchmarking site Emolument has examined the salaries of over 52,000 individuals in London, revealing that the top 10% of retail and trade executives earned an average of £77,000 per annum, with gross salary and annual bonus taken into account.

Unsurprisingly, the finance sector led the field as most well paid, with the top 10% earning an average of £290,000 per annum, followed by the insurance sector with the top 10% earning an average of £153,000 per annum. Energy, mining, chemicals and environmental industries listed third, with the top salary averaging £143,000 per annum. Retail professionals were featured further down the list…

Financial Services: £290, 000 per annum

Insurance: £153,000

Energy, Mining, Chemicals, Environmental: £143,000

Law Practice: £136,000

Recruitment & Executive Search: £124,000

Technology & Telecoms: £120,000

Consulting & Professional Services: £118,000

Manufacturing: £115,000

Apps, Web, eCommerce: £113,000

Pharmaceuticals & Biotech: £110,000

Consumer Goods: £105,000

Transportation & Logistics: £103,000

Construction & Real Estate: £92,000

Media & Communication: £88,000

Healthcare: £84,000

Retail & Trade £77,000

Services, Tourism, Restaurants: £72,000

Sports, Culture, Recreation: £72,000

Public Sector & Education: £67,000

Charity & Not For Profit: £61,000


GUEST BLOG: The new Lexicon Bracknell – A future blueprint for revitalising town centres

With Prosper as Lexicon’s Retail Design Delivery partner, Director Linda Tait previews this innovative new scheme ahead of its opening on 7th September to explain its success and significance for the future of retail…

Bracknell is the first post-war ‘New Town’ to be comprehensively demolished and rebuilt, making it one of the UK’s largest urban regeneration schemes. A key element in this ambitious project is the Lexicon, a £240m, 580,000ft² retail and leisure development revitalizing over 60% of Bracknell’s town centre.

Bracknell’s background

Until recently, Bracknell town centre was an ugly mass of Brutalist concrete from its 1950s origins as one of first post-war New Towns, built to house 25,000 residents.

While Bracknell’s catchment area soared to nearly 1 million people, its commercial centre remained in decline – the grey concrete a decaying eyesore that retailers and shoppers had deserted.

The Berkshire town lacked appealing retail and leisure to attract shoppers from the affluent surrounding areas.

Radical remodelling

To address this, the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership was formed – a collaboration between Bracknell Forest Council and investors Schroder UK Real Estate Fund and Legal & General Capital – who proposed a radical remodelling of the whole town.

The first phase delivered a new Waitrose supermarket in 2011, to assert the town’s potential to retailers and shoppers.

Knitting old with new

Much of the existing centre was then demolished to make way for 70 new shops and restaurants though some historical buildings were upgraded to knit cohesively into the new scheme.

The Bull Pub – a listed 14th century local landmark – has been restored and given a contemporary extension, to form the centrepiece of a new town square. The original high street also remains but with upgraded retail facias to fit Lexicon’s new theme.

Creating character and cohesion

The Lexicon’s layout forms a basic figure of 8 with linked blocks and key avenues, each having their own character. The blocks vary in colour and cladding style, a deliberate design feature to echo the character of a traditional high street.

Shared town assets such as lighting, green space and meeting areas – now largely under single ownership – also aid coherence and enhance the scheme.

Integrated yet individual

The individual units all feature highly glazed facades to bring a light, contemporary feel and coherence, yet still allow brands to express their individuality. Nando’s restaurant is a standout example, where layers of fretwork and greenery customise its facade and add brand personality.

This was an integral part of Prosper’s role delivering the Retail Design. Acting as ambassadors for the Lexicon, Prosper helped retailers to harmonise with the scheme while also delivering to their fullest potential. We also enabled good relationships between tenants and landlords, smoothing the approval process to ensure a good experience.

A lighter, greener feel

Overall Bracknell’s new aesthetic is much lighter and softer, contrasting the dense grey of its predecessor. Ample use of timber adds texture and a natural feel.

The concept of ‘bringing the forest to Bracknell’ is also key, with lots of greenery incorporated, including Europe’s largest green wall, plus nature inspired art showcasing the local flora and fauna.

Lighting solutions throughout add interest and ambience in the evening. On one wall of anchor retailer Fenwick, cut fretwork panels with lighting behind form a striking sculptural feature.

A day to night destination for all weathers

Being an open street scheme that’s not closed at night like a mall, there’s an authentic town centre feel that’s more pleasant to spend time in. This also helps to revive the town’s evening economy.

Just as there’s a trend to incorporate more dining and entertainment in traditional malls, leisure facilities are intrinsic here too. Eagle Lane is the main dining street, featuring popular restaurants such as Carluccio’s, Prezzo and Pizza Express with outdoor space for alfresco dining. The street leads to a 12-screen Cineworld, the only 4DX cinema in the Thames Valley.

To create a more all-weather destination, diamond-shaped glazing panels create elegant arcades covering some streets, while other units have high level canopies for shelter without enclosing the space.

More reasons to stay

Open public spaces are also crucial to create a thriving community, so each intersection has dwell areas featuring seating and soft landscaping. These can host exciting arts and entertainment events in the future to drive continued interest.

With the completion of the Lexicon this autumn, Bracknell now has a diverse mix of appealing retail and leisure, as well as services, some residential and communal spaces, to attract people back into their local centre.

A blueprint for future town centres

That’s why Lexicon Bracknell is an exemplar scheme and will prove significant in inspiring future ideas on revitalizing other town centres in a desolate state.

It goes well beyond the realms of retail, providing a more cohesive solution to breathe new life into tired towns.

If you’d like to find out more about Prosper’s Retail Design Delivery service and how they help landlords create thriving retail destinations by maintaining standards in their commercial centres, please get in touch via or by calling 01582 460990.

Etailing Summit

SAVE THE DATE: eTailing Summit 2018

The eTailing Summit will return on July 10th 2018 at the Hilton London Canary Wharf, once again providing the leading platform for senior eCommerce professionals to meet with trusted solution providers, learn from the sector’s preeminent thought-leaders and network with peers.

The 2017 instalment of the event was the most successful yet, with attending delegates from the likes of Olivia Burton, Feelunique, Molton Brown,, Huggle, Kimberly Clark, Thomas Cook, IKEA, Belstaff, Perry Ellis, Antler, River Island, Samsung, Royal Caribbean, Dixons Carphone, Wickes, Hotel Chocolat, Drake’s, Fortnum & Mason, Signature Gifts, Charlotte Tilbury, Skinnydip and many more.

A bespoke itinerary of meetings with solution providers is created for each delegate, based on their selections, so there’s no time wasted. In addition, delegates have access to insightful and inspirational seminars, plus full hospitality is provided throughout the day.

It’s a great opportunity to benchmark and gather information on new services and solutions within eCommerce, all in one place.

Of course, for 2018 the event will remain completely FREE to attend for eCommerce professionals – to register for your VIP delegate place click here, or contact Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 or email

Alternatively, if you’re an eCommerce solutions provider and would like to showcase your products and services at the eTailing Summit, contact Craig Ross on 01992 666726 or email

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Refresh your strategy at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

The Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit is a unique event for retail professionals to meet with innovative and competitive suppliers to the industry. This two-day event takes place on 5th & 6th February at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted.

As our VIP guest, you will be able meet with shopfitting and display suppliers based on your requirements, as well as network with like-minded peers who share your challenges.

It’s FREE for you to attend and we’ll also provide all hospitality throughout, including lunches, refreshments, overnight accommodation and an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment.

During the course of the event, you can attend insightful and inspirational seminars. The latest sessions confirmed are:

Luxury In VM Dr Valerie Wilson Trower, Lecturer, London College of Fashion

Visual Merchandising (VM) and luxury in retail are, to some extent, opposites given the transient nature of VM. However, this presentation will demonstrate that effective VM embodies luxury just as much as contemporary tropes of premium retail.

  • True luxury – not only bevel-edged mirrors, marble and chrome
  • The patina of time
  • Space as luxury
  • VM as an everyday luxury – enriching our environment
  • Luxury VM – key to building the brand

Personalisation: Changing The Retail Dynamics – Richard Askam, Founder, WNC Limited

A presentation on the past, present and future of personalisation/customisation product campaigns

  • A look at where the popularity of personalisation has come from and where it’s going
  • How it can help retailers and brands unlock a relationship with consumers
  • What does it feel like to be living in the middle of the Digital Revolution
  • What’s in a name?

To find out more about attending the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit, contact Victoria Petch on 01992 374082 or email

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.


Trade union officials hopeful that Wilko redundancies will be ‘minimal’

Following on from last week’s redundancy consultation period with nearly 4,000 staff at troubled retail chain Wilko, trade union officials hope that the amount of job losses can be minimalised, with GMB officials stating that after meeting Wilko bosses they were hopeful that job loses can be “reduced significantly from the thousands initially feared.”

Wilko, which has over 400 stores across the UK, recently recorded a massive 80% drop in full-year profits and subsequently reviewed its operating functions, with the changes required to “ensure it is best placed to continue to thrive within an ever-changing retail landscape.”

1000 new senior supervisor roles, along with a “significant amount” of customer services roles, would be created as part of the restructure.

Discussing the meeting between Wilko bosses and GMB officials, gary carter, GMB national officer, said: “This was the first of many discussions we will have with the company during the 60-day consultation.

“We will be having further, difficult conversations during the process.

“We’ve had people on the phone to us in tears – people who have been with the company 20 or 30 years.

“We all want to see Wilko as a thriving, sustainable business with a long term future.

“It is vital GMB helps the company keep any job losses to an absolute minimum.

“It is important to ensure adequate staffing levels in their stores to maintain an acceptable level of customer service – and to make sure Wilko staff are paid the living wage.

“We are encouraging Wilko to look at alternative ways to save money, which protect existing job roles.

“It’s a hazy picture at the moment, but we will be looking at each store individually with Wilko.

“There are going to be redundancies, but we are very confident these can be reduced significantly from the thousands initially feared.”

The news of redundancies at Wilko comes hot on the heels of the big three supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, all announcing job cuts as part of an ongoing restructuring strategy.


Inflation remains flat, Retail Price Index rises in July

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that inflation remained flat in July, at 2.6%, with experts hoping that that it has now “peaked.”

Figures also show that the Consumer Price Index remains above the Bank of England’s 2% target, considerably better than analyst’s predictions of a 2.7% rise.

However, the Retail Prove Index rose by 3.4%, resulting in an ongoing squeeze on an average household spend.

ONS figures also found that food and clothing prices were the worst effected.

Commenting on the figures, Ben Brettel, senior economist, Hargreaves Lansdown said: “It now looks quite possible inflation has peaked, and will fall back further in coming months.

“The year-on-year increase in producers’ raw material costs fell to 6.5 per cent in July – undershooting forecasts for a seven per cent rise.

“This was down from 10 per cent in June, the biggest month-to-month slowdown in almost five years.

“Input prices are a leading indicator for consumer price inflation as higher input prices are often ultimately passed on to the consumer, and therefore a lower number here could bode well for softer consumer prices down the line.

“All this is good news for the consumer, as it helps alleviate the continuing squeeze on household finances, though pay is still shrinking in real terms for now.”


£3.7 billion worth of discounts disappear from supermarket shelves

IRI’s Price and Promotion study has revealed that the pressure on UK retailers to be more transparent in their pricing has seen the number of trade promotions fall to their lowest levels in 10 years, with shoppers receiving £3.7 billion less in promotional savings in 2017.

The study analyses over 300 categories within UK major multiples (to 27 May 2017) to see what impact the reduction in promotions is having on category performance. The study shows that there has been a 25 per cent reduction in the number of items on offer in stores since November 2012, when the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) first released its guidelines on promotions.

The average number of grocery lines on promotion this year has declined by 13 per cent, resulting in an 18 per cent fall in consumer savings via promotions compared to 2016. Volume on deal (VOD) has also dropped by 6.4 share points, the fastest since it started declining in 2014, and is now at its lowest level for almost a decade.

According to IRI, the amount saved by shoppers, had they bought a product at full price – known as ‘promotional giveaway’ – fell to just 11.1 per cent by April this year from its previous high of 13.9 per cent, representing a potential loss of GBP 3.7 billion in deal savings (based on an annualised total for 2017).

Tim Eales, Strategic Insight Director for IRI and co-author of the study, says: “Retailers and suppliers have been under pressure to change the way they do promotions, notably from the OFT, now CMA, who set out guidelines around pricing transparency a few years ago. We’ve also seen market share gains from discounters with their simplified approach to pricing, along with changing shopper habits and, more recently, increased cost pressures, such as the impact of sterling devaluation on manufacturer and retailer margins.

“While our study shows little change in the level of promotions until 2015, retailers are now moving away from the short-term benefits of tactics like multi-buys and price cuts to get customers through the doors, and replacing them by fewer promotions, driven by a need for more promotional efficiency and effectiveness. Our advice is to look for categories where the sales uplift from individual products on promotion delivers benefits for the category as a whole, meaning a win-win for both supplier and retailer.”

The IRI Price and Promotion – The Big Question white paper and infographic are available for download on the IRI website.

Ed Cookson Sarner International

GUEST BLOG: Experiential marketing & brands that get the story straight

Experiential Marketing is all rage these days, but it’s an older art of persuasion – Storytelling – that can really connect with your customers, suggests Sarner International’s Ed Cookson…

Behind the greats in business, there’s often an origin story. Whether it’s Steve Jobs and Bill Gates starting their computing empires from a bench in their home garage, or Richard Branson starting his first business out of a public phone booth, these are classic prologues for what is known in creative writing classes as ‘the hero’s journey’. They have gripped us since mankind first huddled around the fire, telling engaging, potentially life-saving tales of the tribe. We are storytelling creatures.

Hollywood screenwriting instructor Robert McKee argues that stories “fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living — not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.” Creating an immersive experience that tells the origin story of a product – and where it’s heading – can be an effective way to engage with customers on a deeper level than more traditional marketing methods. The key to making them work – the same as Hollywood blockbusters and tales around the campfire – is memorable, instructional storytelling that resonates with the audience.

There’s a grand tradition of using immersive experiences to establish brands, including the promotion of entire countries and their goods and services. Branding took a leap in the mid-19th century with the advent of World Fairs and Expositions. These events were a chance for the general public to get first-hand experience of the products, cuisine and customs of other nations and ‘travel the world’ in one place. Wildly popular at the time, Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851 was credited with influencing Britain’s architecture, art and design and even generating a new wave of interest in world travel.

Experiential marketing is still working. Developments in 2017 include Kodak’s new 9,000 sq ft Experience Centre, a €16m expansion plan for the Guinness Storehouse (Ireland’s most popular visitor attraction), Disney’s Star Wars Hotel, Mario Kart’s immersive attraction (timed for launch during the Tokyo Olympics), and even a new theme park inspired by footballer Lionel Messi due to open in China in 2019.

These days, companies are more likely to use immersive experiences to reach new and existing customers via theme parks, pop-ups that showcase brand innovations or visitor centres. Even for celebrities, institutions and IP-based products, telling the story of the brand now needs to be more engaging than a few boards of old photographs, a shelf of ‘packaging through the ages’ and behind-the-scenes How-It’s-Done videos. When your product is well established, how can the story go deeper?

That’s where sensation comes into the picture – be it Cadbury World’s Heath Robinson-style gurgling, purple ‘chocolate machine’ that gives visitors a taste of what’s in store, or audio-visual environments like the ‘Dark Walk’ at Bodmin Jail in Cornwall, which will use state-of-the-art theatrics to tells the stories of the prisoners that passed through the 18th Century prison, beginning in the dank smugglers’ cave, passing along the stormy coastline, on through a crime-ridden Victorian village all the way to the grimy, rat-infested cells.

Of course, it’s a good idea to make sure the story you’re telling isn’t a Tall Tale. Consumers are only ever a few clicks away from a deep dive into a company’s public profile. Visitor attractions ought not only to reflect the sensations you want your brand to conjure up with loyal and new customers, but also be able to go through the ups and downs in the history of your organisation and pluck out the tales that demonstrate what the company is really like and what the brand stands for. It’s OK to admit to mistakes (short-lived changes in brand recipes that caused public outcry, for example) – that makes you more relatable; more human.

When brands get it right, their visitor attractions morph into something beyond a marketing exercise and become tourist destinations in their own right. Places like Jameson Distillery, Pez Visitor Center and Legoland ask their audiences to travel and pay for a brand experience.

It’s your story. It’s yours to tell. Find an honest, engaging way to show people not only what or how, but why your company does what it does they will feel connected to your brand. That’s human nature.

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit

Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit: Designed for your needs

The Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit has been designed to allow you to meet new suppliers who can help your upcoming projects, and aid in trimming those all-important budgets.

It is FREE for you to attend and, as our VIP guest, you will be provided with a bespoke itinerary of meetings with those suppliers who match your requirements. No hard sell and no time wasted.

It could be the most valuable two days you spend outside of the office next year. Here’s what’s in store:

– You will be provided with a bespoke itinerary of face-to-face meetings with
suppliers relevant to your business
– Learn from industry thought-leaders and nose-tappers at our seminar sessions
– Network with like-minded peers who share the same challenges
– Enjoy complimentary hospitality, including overnight accommodation, lunch and
all refreshments
– Avoid the hard-sell and sore feet – this is unlike any traditional trade expo

Need any more reasons to attend? Here are three more, courtesy of former delegates:

“Well organised event, great for meeting new suppliers and the event team were friendly and helpful. Very worthwhile time out of the office” Calvin Klein

“I found this experience extremely informative and interesting, very pleased!” Browns Fashion

“Very well organised and well run with lots of time to network and meet lots of good quality suppliers” Mothercare

“A very well-organised event, preparation, information and organisation were excellent” Waitrose

Delegate places are running out fast for this unique event, so act swiftly to reserve your place by contacting Victoria Petch on 01992 374082 /

Alternatively, if you’re an industry supplier and would like to showcase your products and services at the Retail Shopfitting & Display Summit, contact Courtney Saggers on 01992 374088 /

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Jingle bells, as Selfridges opens Christmas shop

Selfridges has opened its Christmas shop with the theme for 2017 being ‘With Love From.’

The move has been met with a mixture of surprise, excitement and bewilderment by customers passing through the fourth floor of London’s Oxford Street store, with fake fir trees and a jolly Santa greeting people months ahead of the big day.

Opening the Christmas shop last month, the store featured a curated range of London inspired Christmas products, with Christmas food items rolling out last week.

The full 130,000 product range, including 51,000 baubles and 65 light and tree options will commence withy phase two in September.

Speaking about the early opening of the Christmas shop, Selfridges Christmas and home buyer Eleanor Gregory, said: “We’ve been opening the doors to our Christmas Shop during the summer for years now and have become a real destination for fans of Christmas and festive decorations within and outside the UK.

“Some customers return to us year after year, excited at the prospect of discovering the new ranges and adding to their collections.

“They include a large number of domestic customers who love to Christmas shop very early in the year to get it wrapped and taken off their to-do list.

“This new extension to our usual offer is addressing this growing demand for convenience – domestic customers who love to Christmas shop very early in the year to get it wrapped and taken off their to-do list.”