Retailers naturally love a bustling store environment, but following 2017’s frenetic pre-Christmas rush and Boxing Day madness, on the back of what seemed like an entire year of uncertainty, it may be time for a little rest and reboot!
2017 certainly threw us a few curveballs – from the absurd politicisation of the penalty rates case; the arrival of a certain US conglomerate we’re all sick of talking about; or the turnstile of retailers going into administration.
There’s been more than enough fodder for the ‘doom and gloom’ camp in the past 12 months to declare the end of the retail world as we know it, but naturally, there are myriad variables behind every negative headline.
Just last week another long-standing, iconic brand went into administration – Maggie T – which was founded more than three decades ago with famous model Maggie Tabberer as its ambassador for fuller-figured women.
While it’s the first for 2018 (and we know it won’t be the last), it follows several recent high-profile collapses including 80-year-old Oroton, as well as David Lawrence, Marcs, Herringbone, Rhodes and Beckett. And before that? Pumpkin Patch, Laura Ashley, Payless Shoes, Howards Storage, Dick Smith, Masters – shall we continue?
While each of these ended up with a similar outcome, each one’s ‘road to ruin’ if you will was unique – ‘poor sales’ the general reason given, but underpinned by anything from unfavourable leasing arrangements, soaring overheads, overly complex IR systems and wage and compliance imposts, through to issues with the products themselves including quality issues, unrealistic pricing and a failure to read the market.
Following the collapse of Howards Storage World, for example, its Facebook page was flooded with comments from consumers who said their products were ridiculously expensive (for example, a fingerprint-proof, stainless steel rubbish bin that cost more than $500). Or Pumpkin Patch, which started out as a stand-alone for fashion-conscious parents, offering high quality and fun designs, but failed to adapt to changed market conditions when brands like Target, Kmart and Big W boarded the fashionable train (at significantly lower prices).
But none of these collapses bears many similarities to all the outstanding retailers out there who’ve been killing it with incredibly fresh, forward-thinking ideas. Every day I come across something new, unique and remarkable in this industry – collectively, you have shown yourselves to be, time and again, a true melting pot for innovation and adaptability.
Despite doomsday predictions and headlines, the domestic industry never fails to pull together and do what it does best, i.e. getting on with the job of running remarkable businesses; creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of Australians; and holding your own as one of the most important industries to the Australian economy.
So with the January madness almost over and your New Year’s plans ready to roll out, we’re excited to be here for you once again to help you navigate your legal, compliance, IR and contractual issues, and can’t wait to find out what you have in store for 2018!
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.