At times last month there were ominous echoes of December 2008 – the month when the media was bursting with stories of High Street names shedding jobs, losing unthinkable amounts of money or just collapsing altogether, like that episode of Dr Who when all the stars twinkle out of existence.
Last month Oddbins and Sport Media Group went into administration, Halfords sales were down, Carpetright and HMV issued profits warnings, Mothercare complained of low shopper footfall, the CEO of Next likened the current retail landscape to walking up a down escalator and, most ominously, ex-Asda CEO Andy Bond told delegates at the Retail London conference that he believed: “The retail recession is ahead of us, not behind.”
But in adversity there is opportunity. Theo Paphitis [pictured] had an almost smug ‘can’t complain’ look on his face as he made the media rounds promoting his new retail venture, lingerie chain Boux Avenue.
Theo told Radio 4’s You and Yours that there were significant benefits to starting a business in tough economic times. He said that he had been “working with” – which we assume means ‘squeezing their balls till they almost burst’ – the owners of the shopping centres where he had opened his initial Boux outlets. If the good times had carried on rolling, he said, he would certainly not have been able to open stores on the terms he eventually negotiated.
As I mentioned last month, we have recently heard of a number of adult retailers who have been able to relocate their businesses to more favourable locations due to the slump in demand for retail space. If your lease is due for renewal, this could be an excellent opportunity for you to move upmarket or – if you’re happy where you are – “work with” your current landlord so you remain in your current location but on improved terms.
And talking of opportunities, it would be remiss of me not to mention next month’s ETO Show (www.etoshow.com). You know the form by now: all the major distributors, plenty of specialist suppliers, an abundance of new products, special deals to save you money and no charge to get in. What’s not to like?