Thriving Through Uncertainty – 5 Critical Steps for UK Retailers

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Tim Kershaw, Chief Executive Officer, Libra Europe Consulting, argues that the recent strains showing in the major high street retailers have their roots in several step changes in the consumer environment.

A move to rental rather than purchase of homes has impacted big ticket homeware and white goods. This has been exacerbated by an industry wide improvement in reliability and quality and a slowing in step change technology innovations leading consumers to have little need to acquire the latest products.

Across all categories the on-line suppliers have largely mastered customer service. Possessing a lower cost model, coupled with the ability to provide almost limitless choice from the comfort of your home they provide instant price and range comparisons making it easy to buy, thereby negating their need to sell a specific product on its merits.

These changes have made acquiring goods very easy and highlighted the relatively enormous time and effort required for a traditional shopping trip.

The challenge for traditional retailers must be:

“Why would people come into my shop and buy something”

To address this, retailers can no longer rely on outdated formats and propositions in the vain hope that customer loyalty will outweigh the benefits of range, price and convenience provided by the internet options.

Thus, traditional retails must look to significantly differentiate themselves from their competitors and provide a differentiated shopping experience where the consumer can identify clearly the benefits of physical shopping. It is about reverting to the traditional mantra “retail is detail”

1. Location

In order to ensure success retailers must understand properly their customer profile and only retain a physical presence where there are enough appropriate customers. The history of growth for growths sake is a major reason for the current spate of retail failures. Focus must be tight and not driven by blind ambitions for growth. At the discount end of the market Wilkinson’s and Primark have done this exceptionally well whilst Selfridges have also made sensible location choices for their premium offering.

2. Layout

The traditional layout and style of stores has been a turnoff for many customers making shopping difficult and unpleasant. Layouts must now provide a relaxed and enjoyable shopping experience with clarity on where to find goods. Payment options should be fast and convenient, outside of discount clothing retailers a twenty-person queue to pay is a major customer turn off

There are numerous examples of good practise from the IKEA labyrinth to the stripped back tech of Apple stores, these stores make the effort to understand their customers and standout from the crowd.

3. Staff

Staff training is vital the store must be able to provide impartial and relevant advice to customers and staff need to be well versed in the arts of good advice coupled with upselling and cross selling to maximise the return from every customer visit. Despite all their other woes M&S have retained a reputation for helpful and informed staff in the stores and the M&S training is still highly valued by customers and competitors.

4. Marketing

Know your proposition and drive customers understanding of it very hard. Too many retailers fail to properly engage with new customers, assuming the customers know who you are and what you do is lazy and fatal. Most failed retailers lost the battle because no on knew why they were worth a visit. ALDI and Lidl have done this exceptionally well not only promoting value but quality as well through carefully targeted campaigns which reinforce their companies’ basic values and consumer message.

5. Experience

In the store a good layout and well-trained staff will address some of the battle, but the whole experience must be base around “making buying easy”. Additional services and loyalty schemes will help make the experience different and pleasurable promoting customer recommendation and retention. Stores like Apple, Lush and John Lewis have managed to make shopping bearable.

This is all about understanding and focussing on the original brief;

“Why would people come into my shop and buy something”

If you cannot answer that question positively and objectively don’t rely on the customer to do it for you

Tim Kershaw, Chief Executive Officer

www.libraeurope.com

Change management consultancy’s dramatic growth attributed to fresh thinking and pragmatism

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Challenging convention and pinpointing the real barriers to change is continuing to underpin the success of change management specialist Libra Europe Consulting. As it approaches its 20th anniversary, new contracts with the likes of VJ Technology, XPO Logistics and Princes has seen the progressive consultancy double in size over the past year. According to Chief Executive, Tim Kershaw, the dramatic growth of the business demonstrates the importance of fresh thinking and pragmatism as retail and logistics operations face up to the relentless squeeze on margins, fierce global competition and the constraints of legacy structures and processes.

“Just as the retail and logistics sectors are having to grapple with constantly shifting business priorities, so too has the need for anyone working in the field of change management to reassess the practicalities and realities for achieving the best outcomes. Our collaborative and hands-on approach to help clients fulfil their operational and performance objectives clearly resonates with businesses struggling to adapt and identify or address those factors that are compromising growth, efficiencies and competitiveness.

Today, it is clear that effective change management strategies cannot be imposed. There needs to be true engagement and a real commitment to embrace new ways of doing things, new responsibilities and new mindsets. Showing how to achieve that level of connection and supportive attitude has helped our team of consultants to transform productivity and performance for clients throughout the retail and logistics sectors without creating new obstacles or deferring progress. I have no doubt that such a pragmatic approach has underpinned our success and growth over the past few years.”

J Sainsbury’s, M&S, XPO Logistics, Samworth Brothers, KP Snacks, SIG Distribution and Bakkavor – Cucina Sano are among the growing number of clients benefitting from the expertise and insight of Libra Europe Consulting. And, in tandem with the consultancy’s growth, recent additions to Libra’s team of specialist consultants include Learning and Development Manager, Ben Davies; Senior Business Analyst, Michael Carson; Senior Consultant, Christos Zorzompokos; and Project Manager, Katy Wicks.

The consultancy benefits from close partnerships with key software providers to provide clients with robust and proven tools to deliver the most effective and sustainable outcomes, including Llamasoft supply chain planning software, Siemens Preactor APS production planning and scheduling software, MRPEasy cloud-based MRP software. It has also recently confirmed a new partnership with Gemba Solutions production management software to provide an effective Shop Floor Data Capture solution.

“We’re determined to deliver change management solutions that reflect fully the unique parameters, dynamics and market influences of our clients,”

“Building on our strengths and our knowledge of the logistics and retail sectors, we will continue to challenge convention and open minds to the collective and personal benefits of progressive and proactive change. In doing so, we will act as a catalyst for instilling the belief and assurance to help our clients look to the future with confidence rather than trepidation.”

Tim Kershaw, Chief Executive Officer

www.libraeurope.com

Libra Europe Consulting agree partnership deal with Gemba Solutions Ltd

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Libra Europe Consulting are pleased to announce a new partnership with the Production Efficiency Solution provider, Gemba Solutions Ltd.

This exciting new venture combines our experience of transforming operational performance through developing people and robust processes with an effective Shop Floor Data Capture solution.

“Gemba Solutions enables our clients to effortlessly attain manufacturing performance data to inform their decision-making process. Working in partnership with Libra, this will create a real benefit for all our clients who want to identify and realise potential savings opportunities.”

Andrew Fenton, Director, Libra Europe Consulting Limited

About Gemba Solutions Ltd

Some of the features available through Gemba include:

  • ANDON System – The ANDON screen displays the real-time production status, so you can see what is happening on your shop floor

  • OEE Software – Maximise your production output whilst maintaining product quality. It can track a suit of KPIs to help you benchmark plant and process efficiency and identify areas for improvement.

  • SIC - Provides you with a mechanism to visually illustrate, collect and analyse data at regular short intervals, and to implement and verify the effectiveness of corrective actions.

  • Production Call System - Transmit requests for support (i.e. maintenance required, machine breakdown, no materials etc.) from the shop-floor via email, lamp tower etc, with a closed-loop escalation process to ensure issues are dealt with effectively.

  • Real-Time Inventory tracking, Electronic documentation upload, Maintenance management, Customer reporting, Work order tracking and more…

For further information on this partnership please contact Andrew Fenton at andrew.fenton@libraeurope.com

WWW.LIBRAEUROPE.COM

We Are Recruiting!

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We are currently recruiting various Consultant and Project Manager roles within the business. We are looking for results-driven professionals with experience of change/people management who have the energy and capability to join a dynamic and passionate team.

Successful candidates will be employed to work in project teams, working directly with client stakeholders to ensure design and delivery of agreed objectives are achieved to time and cost.

Please visit our Careers page for more information and job descriptions or contact us at contact@libraeurope.com

New Website Announcement

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After months of hard work from the team, we are proud to announce the launch of our newly redesigned website, www.libraeurope.com.

We have redesigned it with you in mind; simple navigation and streamlined content, built with a responsive design for both desktop and mobile platforms that also provides more resources and information on what we can do for you.

After evaluating our old site, our goal was to improve accessibility to content and information while creating a user-friendly browsing experience for our valued customers and business partners.

This refreshing rebrand has brought a more modern and exciting feel that is inline with the work we do with our clients daily.

For any questions, feedback or enquiries please visit our Contact page to get in touch

Libra Europe Consulting partner agreement with Global Supply Chain Technology firm LLamasoft

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Libra Europe Consulting have today announced a partnership with Supply Chain Technology giant LLamasoft. The partnership combines Libras extensive supply chain & operations background with LLamasoft's market-leading supply chain technology.

‘Working with LLamasoft adds a suite of tools to our offering that we feel will create competitive advantages for our client base. The combination of LLamasoft technology with Libra consulting resources is a great platform for better understanding and optimising local and global supply chain networks’

Bob Heward, Managing Partner, Libra Europe Consulting Limited

LLamasoft enables organisations around the world to model and optimise their supply chain operations for major improvements in cost, service, sustainability and risk mitigation. The partnership provides LLamasoft with additional capacity in a key market and Duncan Mack, LLamasoft Alliances Director EMEA, outlined the importance of this strategic relationship with LEC.

“LLamasoft are delighted to have signed a Partner Agreement with Libra Europe Consulting. Both sides are committed to combine their complementary strengths to provide compelling solutions for customers who need to either optimise or transform their supply chains”.

For further information on this partnership please contact Michael Carson at michael.carson@libraeurope.com

www.llamasoft.com

www.libraeurope.com