Edition overview

By Stephen Bampfylde

The high street is a familiar British phenomenon; the centre of many communities from the largest to the smallest right across the country. However, there is change afoot both on the high street and more broadly across the retail sector as the physical and online worlds merge and consumer habits and attitudes shift. This change is considerable, even revolutionary, and is altering the face of retail forever.

For the past ten years this change has been underway within the sector. It continues apace with no signs of slowing down. In times of considerable change, it is inevitable there will always be winners and losers, and we have seen much of that across this sector in high profile examples throughout the past decade. The resilience of this sector is remarkable however, and its ability to adapt and thrive is coming to the forefront, demonstrating innovation and resilience in abundance.

The huge impact of digital in the retail market has been transformational, in both positive and negative ways for some businesses. The very early adoption of online platforms within the sector has made it an exemplar for other areas of commercial activity and the experience gained by its leaders is seen as hugely valuable as other sectors in turn face their paradigm shifts.

It has been suggested we are potentially only half way through this revolution, and that the sector will continue to transform in front of our eyes, or even our digital devices, but what is certain is that it will adapt, thrive and survive.

In this edition. we are delighted to speak to Richard Pennycook, a doyen of the UK retail sector and champion of the Co-operative Group turnaround in his most recent role as Chief Executive. Now successfully pursuing a portfolio career, Richard reflects on his varied roles in organisations right across the retail arena, and his most recent appointment as Co-chair of the newly created Retail Sector Council. With a career in retail spanning 25 years, Richard outlines his thoughts on challenges and opportunities which will be tackled and embraced by a sector known for its resilience and adaptability.

We also include insights from Kate Ludlow at Saxton Bampfylde about the best approach to help identify, nurture and strengthen leaders at a board and executive level within the retail sector. In this edition of Canvas, we also welcome André Freire from our Panorama partner firm in Brazil, who shares his insights from the South American market.

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