Archive for the ‘Latest News’ Category

Consumer goods fair trio kicks off the new business season with strong themes

January 24th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

From 24/25 to 28 January 2020, the consumer goods fairs Christmasworld, Paperworld and Creativeworld will attract visitors with new products from over 3,000 exhibitors. In addition, the complementary programme picks up on social megatrends, thus creating future-oriented perspectives for the retail trade.

Changes in consumer behaviour resulting from digitisation demand a rethink in the consumer goods sectors for decorative articles, festive décor, paper, office supplies, stationery, hobby, craft and artists’ materials. Customers expect a wide range of products, a digital presence, experiences, a feel-good atmosphere, and personal consultation services from the stationary trade. The three consumer goods fairs Christmasworld, Paperworld and Creativeworld are the ideal partners to the retail trade for these developments. Drawing their inspiration from the social megatrends urbanisation, New Work, and individualisation, they reveal new opportunities. Top topics include, above all, the “Retail BLVD” at Christmasworld, the “Future Office” and “Future Learning” at Paperworld, and the concept area “Urban Art Lab” at Creativeworld.

“The international trade fairs are focusing even more strongly this year on the driving issues of the future in order to provide retailers with even better prospects in a rapidly changing world. At the same time, they offer an overview of the latest product innovations from their 3,051 exhibitors from 74 countries that is unique worldwide”, explains Detlef Braun, Member of the Management Board of Messe Frankfurt. “The increased internationality on the part of exhibitors shows that there is a great hunger for exports. If you are looking for international buyers, our industry platforms are just the right place for you”.

Digitally driven industry perspectives
According to the industry report of the IFH trade research institute in Cologne, Germans continue to attach great importance to Christmas decorations. In 2019 they spent a total of 2.82 billion euros on Christmas and festive items. This represents a slight increase in sales of 0.9 percent. From an overall economic perspective, the importance of Christmas continues to grow – particularly as a result of campaigns such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. However, the Christmas business, as with the year-round sales development in almost all consumer goods markets, is driven online. This is especially true for the office and stationery market, which continues to post stable sales figures.

Specialist stores are therefore increasingly dependent on new concepts: This calls for forward-looking solutions that intelligently link off and online to make shopping in city centres more attractive again. “This is precisely where we come in, winning visionary partners for our trade fairs in order to be one step ahead and provide the sectors with new impulses”, adds Julia Uherek, Vice President Consumer Goods, Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH.

Christmasworld – the urbanisation megatrend
The leading international fair for seasonal and festive decorations exploits the success factor of experience at the point of sale like no other trade show. When it comes to seasonal decorating, exquisite products that reflect the current spirit of the times and increase the desire to celebrate, enjoy, and share beautiful moments together are crucial. In addition, lighting installations and visual merchandising enhance the shopping experience in the ever more strongly growing city centres many times over.

Visitors interested in discovering how experience, convenience and service-orientated shopping can look in the future and how digital solutions can be integrated should head for the “Retail BLVD” in Galleria 0. Together with experts from IFH Cologne, the boulevard focuses on the steps leading up to the buying impulse and customer loyalty. Drawing on the IFH study “Structural Change in Retailing: The Consumer’s Perspective”, it shows how different buyer types and their needs can best be served. The focus is on concrete support and tips that retailers can implement in their own stores, while short presentations and guided tours invite visitors to exchange their experience and know-how. In this context, Google Germany also offers free workshops on the topic of “Becoming visible on the Internet”.

Paperworld – the New Work megatrend
Paperworld is the most international trade fair for paper, office supplies and stationery and, moreover, the only fair that covers the two product segments of commercial office supplies, and high-quality stationery, packaging and writing instruments equally. The New Work megatrend plays a decisive role in both areas. It is about the merging of the working and leisure worlds. With increasing digitisation and mobility, the workplace is also shifting – people are more flexible and no longer tied to the office, they work from home or on the move.

The Paperworld complementary programme is once again offering a glimpse into the future. With the “Future Office”, for example, which bears the motto “Smart Solutions”. In a series of lectures and at exhibitors’ stands, new means of communication and office space concepts that enable smart and digital collaboration will be presented.

The “Future Learning” impulse area highlights another important social trend, namely lifelong learning. Visitors to the area will be presented with analogue and digital learning concepts. Regardless of whether it concerns digitisation and the associated new developments that people need to adapt to, or further training in their personal professional environment: there is a growing need for individual further development. What the future will bring in schools and educational facilities will be discussed by Angela Dorn (The Greens), Hesse’s Minister of State for Science and Art, with the first ever robot lecturer Yuki, and Professor Jürgen Handke. She will be speaking on Monday, 27 January 2020 at 10:30 a.m. about new models of learning and the “Digital Pact for Schools”.

Creativeworld – the individualisation megatrend
Creativeworld caters to the demand for active leisure activities and individualisation. Customers seek offers that are tailored to their individual tastes and needs. They want competent advice and to network with like-minded people.

The social desire for individuality was largely responsible for the huge boom in the DIY sector. Messe Frankfurt was quick to recognise the signs, and established Creativeworld ten years ago as an independent trade fair for hobby, craft and art supplies. Today, it is the most important international platform for the sector. This is where the creative minds of the world exchange ideas, jointly develop new products, and convey the impression that DIY makes you happy.

What retailers need to meet the individual needs of creative customers can be found, for example, in the “Urban Art Lab” concept area: Here they can be trained on the hottest topics relating to street art and graffiti. After all, those who offer authentic and competent advice generate more sales potential and retain customers over the long term.

Images courtesy of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH/Pietro Sutera. 

NRF round-up from BJSS

January 24th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

David Gore, Head of Retail, Media & Technology at BJSS gives A1 Retail a round-up of the top trends seen at NRF 2020. 

Last week thousands of the world’s top retailers and service providers descended on New York to attend the National Retail Federation’s Big Show, arguably the biggest retail event in the world. One theme that stole the show for me was the next level of discussion around in-store experience. As retailers’ strain to keep up with the pace of technology and customers’ ever-changing expectations, the physical store has never been more in-focus for retailers. By reimagining the role of the in-store experience, away from a binary, transactional stage, retailers can create a highly effective consumer channel that meets shoppers’ ever-evolving needs. The key is blending the in-store experience tightly with online to simultaneously drive online sales as well as offering experiential features that delight and surprise customers. For example, Neighborhood Goods is embracing these questions by creating a physical space that fosters a positive experience for customers, allowing people to come together to learn more about the brand. It also hedges risk by sharing its store space amongst other brands, which is an increasingly popular and savvy business model.

Technology was also high up on the agenda. The most successful retailers have used technology as a driver of commercial success. The Innovation Stage demonstrated the immense choice and power of technology in retail. However, for some this becomes choice overload – how can an organisation facilitate and master all aspects of all the options out there?

What retailers need to ask themselves is do I know the implications of these changes and am I ready to tackle them? Do I know what my customers really want? Whether it be through technology or reimagining the physical store, forward thinking is essential.

Retailers set for huge sales boost this weekend as consumers spend their Christmas gift cards

January 24th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Shoppers are beating the January blues and reducing the strain on their bank accounts by using gift cards instead – with retailers set to receive a sales boost this weekend that could potentially total over £200 million.


Recent research from the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKGCVA) found that 44% of Brits were likely to have received a gift card this Christmas, and over half of consumers (50.3%) will spend their gift cards within a month of receiving them. Given that millions of shoppers are statistically likely to use their Christmas gift cards this weekend, it means that retailers are expected to receive a much-needed boost as over half of gift cards received during the Christmas period will be spent by this Sunday.


The UKGCVA’s research also found that, when spending their gift card, shoppers will often spend more than the original value of the card. The average extra spend is £18.55 – a 67.1% increase on the average value of shoppers’ gift cards (£27.64 per gift card). This means that, this weekend, retailers could receive a sales boost of more than £245 million through upsold goods and in-store uplift.


This weekend (January 25th-26th) also coincides with the first-ever National Use Your Gift Card weekend. Launched this year by the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association(UKGCVA), the event aims to encourage consumers to make the most of their unspent gift cards.


Gift cards, when redeemed, are a vital customer loyalty and engagement platform, which is welcome news to retailers. This is particularly true among younger demographics, with almost one in three (31%) millennial and Generation Z shoppers reporting having become a regular customer of a new brand after receiving and using a gift card for that organisation.


National Use Your Gift Card Weekend is also set to extend to additional key shopping dates throughout the year, such as the Black Friday weekend.


Gail Cohen, director general of the UKGCVA, commented: “At the UK Gift Card & Voucher Association, we would always encourage consumers to “use it, don’t lose it” and enjoy their gift cards straight away. While our research shows that more and more consumers are spending their gift cards promptly, we’re constantly looking for ways to make gift cards a better option for consumers and retailers alike – which means getting out there and enjoying them!


“What better time, and way, to treat yourself and beat the January blues? Gift cards are extremely versatile and can increasingly be spent online as well as in-store, meaning that it’s never been easier to purchase the perfect treat and ensure that your gift cards can be properly enjoyed as they should.”


For more information, visit

Wren Kitchens opens its doors to undergraduates for the first time

January 23rd, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

This summer, to help develop the next generation of talented tech professionals, Wren Kitchens will be launching an IT internship programme for undergraduates.


Aimed at second year IT university students, Wren is offering competitively paid internships at its headquarters in Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire.

Wren will welcome over 200 IT graduates and interns over the next two years to cater for the rapid growth of the company.

The tech team is the heartbeat of the business and from scratch they develop and maintain world-class technology such as the industry leading CAD based kitchen planner and 3D virtual reality systems. Plus, they also enhance multiple internal systems to ensure optimum service levels across manufacturing, customer services, installations and logistics.

The 12-week programme starting on Monday, 6th July will offer full-time positions to those that shine. Interns will be personally mentored by senior members of the team where they will work on developing live systems to further improve the customer’s experience whilst purchasing a kitchen.

The internship is available in the following five tailored courses:

  • PHP Developers
  • JavaScript Developers
  • iOS Developers
  • DevOps Engineers
  • Software Testers

Wren Kitchens IT Director, Craig Douglas, said: “With limited prospects in the region like this, we’re proud to be offering an exceptional opportunity for the next generation to gain unrivalled experience in a first-class tech team, and to secure a full-time position before even graduating.

“We’re committed to investing in training and development in our tech professionals, as well as offering career opportunities within the business to ensure that they can succeed in a long and successful career here at Wren.”

Exciting, extensive development works have commenced at Wren’s headquarters to create a state-of-the-art IT office with the capacity for over 450 people.

The new mezzanine space will encompass the latest technology and testing studios including virtual reality demos, interactive screens, network monitoring systems and a 50-seater auditorium for speakers to offer inspiration and expertise. Works will be complete as soon as summer 2020.


Check out the IT opportunities section on for more information and how to apply.


Visa launches scheme to enhance access to cash through retailers

January 23rd, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

• Visa is working with its clients to introduce a new incentive to encourage more retailers to offer cashback to their customers;
• Scheme targets vulnerable areas where consumers struggle to access cash;
• Initiative follows focused pilot with Lloyds Banking Group last year.

Visa is launching an industry-wide ‘access to cash’ scheme with its partner banks to incentivise retailers to offer cashback in areas of the UK where consumers currently struggle to access cash. The new initiative will incentivise shops and businesses to offer cashback to consumers using their Visa debit cards.

The scheme aims to increase the number of locations where cashback is offered. While cashback has been available in the UK since 1990, Visa has seen the volume of transactions declining across the country in recent years.

To ensure that the most vulnerable areas see the greatest benefit, the new cashback incentive will target areas of the UK where access to cash has been identified as being more difficult, such as the most remote and rural locations.

In addition, the initiative will also encourage individuals to visit and shop in their local communities, driving footfall and revenue for independent retailers.

Jeni Mundy, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Visa, said: “The popularity of digital payments continues to surge across the UK, however we know that cash still plays a vital part in the lives of many. This is why we want to help increase the number of options that people have to gain access to cash, helping to extend financial inclusion by enabling customers to choose how they pay – be that by cash, cards, mobile devices or other means. We also hope our scheme will encourage people in the target areas to visit their local shops at a challenging time for retailers.”

The industry-wide scheme follows an innovative pilot between Visa and Lloyds Banking Group which aimed to increase the number of locations where cardholders were able to withdraw cash.

Vim Maru, Group Director, Retail Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Lloyds Banking Group maintains the biggest branch network of any bank in the UK and is committed to ensuring access to cash, including a free-to-use ATM network alongside other ways of accessing cash locally. Through the cashback pilot we’ve been running in partnership with Visa since early last year, we’ve improved the availability of cash in local communities, particularly in areas under-served by free-to-use ATMs and where consumers’ access to cash may be restricted. We’re delighted that Visa is now encouraging all of its bank partners to get behind the scheme and create a cashback system that both rewards retailers and protects access to cash.”

As access to coins and notes reduces, Visa is actively working with its partners to explore innovative solutions to ensure that consumers and merchants are able to pay and be paid in whichever way they choose. For example, Visa hopes to be able to make cashback without purchase available in the future.

Liverpool ONE helps brighten Blue Monday

January 22nd, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Hundreds of flowers filled Liverpool ONE on Monday 20 January to inject a spot of joy on Blue Monday, widely recognised as the most depressing day of the year.

With the sole mission to spread cheer across the destination, hundreds of bunches of brightly-coloured flowers were left across Upper and Lower South John Street, Peter’s Lane and Paradise Street for visitors to collect on their way to work. The blooms were packaged into pairs, encouraging people to keep a bouquet for themselves and pass the other on to a friend, colleague or stranger.

Liverpool ONE’s tenant mix also supported the initiative, with key retailers and restaurants also offering a series of treats and one-off offers to visitors for the day.

Alison Clegg, Director, Asset Management at Grosvenor Europe said: “Following the success of last year’s flower drop activation across Liverpool ONE on Blue Monday, we stepped up the destination’s efforts this time around and to see so many of our leading brands and operators get involved was fantastic. The initiative ties in well with our greater efforts to create meaningful experiences and memorable moments for visitors.”

Donna Howitt, Marketing Director at Liverpool ONE added: “Blue Monday is recognised as the gloomiest day of the year for many. Our flower drop has proven to put a smile on our visitors’ faces and creating a chain reaction of positivity across the city. This year, many of our shops and restaurants jumped at the chance to offer all kinds of complimentary and discounted treats to make Blue Monday a little brighter for everyone!”

The Blue Monday initiative follows Liverpool ONE’s successful festive period, which drove a 5% increase in sales compared to 2018, contradicting widespread industry declines. The results marked the end of a record year of performance at the destination, with sales up 2.5% throughout 2019.

John Lewis launches first ever men’s make up counter – London

January 22nd, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments


War Paint For Men launches the first men’s make up concession at John Lewis’ London flagship store in Oxford Street. The counter offers a make-up line specifically catered for men including foundation, bronzer and a range of powder brushes in the menswear section.


Available from 2nd January, War Paint For Men is being seen as a potential tipping point in male cosmetics. With the men’s makeup industry set to boom over the next four years, War Paint For Men is leading the way. Experts are commending this could be the logical next step for a generation of image-conscious men who already executing basic grooming routines.


Born out of founder Danny Gray’s suffering of BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), War Paint For Men launched in November 2018 and gained a £70,000 investment from Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani after appearing on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den last autumn.


The counter in the Oxford Street store is intended as a temporary pop-up until the end of the month, with John Lewis indicating it could roll out the concept to other branches if there is demand.


Debenhams sets itself new sustainable standards for the 2020s

January 22nd, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Department store retailer, Debenhams, has launched a new sustainability programme with ambitious targets as it aims to set new benchmarks for UK department store retailing in the 2020s.

The new targets build on the progress made by Debenhams in the last year. In 2019, the business reduced the amount of packaging it uses by 22%, sourced over 2m garments made from sustainable cotton and reduced the number of clothes hangers sent from its stores to landfill to zero.

Debenhams has now announced a series of new commitments as it enters a new decade, including:

• 100% of its cotton requirement to be from sustainable sources by 2022
• All cotton garments in its Mantaray collection for the new 2020 season to be BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) sourced
• A guarantee that, by September 2020, all own brand product sold in a Debenhams store will have at least one sustainable attribute
• All lamination to be removed from swing tickets by December 2020
• All swing tickets to be sourced using FSC TM paper by December 2020
• An operational takeback scheme to be rolled out to every store this spring to recycle old stock and samples in partnership with the charity NewLife, which supports disabled and terminally ill children and their families

To achieve these targets, Debenhams has tasked its sourcing, supply chain teams and manufacturing partners with pursuing more sustainable options across all its processes. It has set the specific objectives of sourcing sustainable packaging; reducing water and chemical use; reducing wastage and cost; and recycling and reusing materials wherever possible.

Debenhams’ Director of Stores, Technology & Supply Chain, Angela Morrison, said:

“As a senior leadership team, we are committed to examining everything we do with a more sustainable focus. There is still a lot for us to do but we made real progress in 2019.

“Reducing the amount of packaging we use by 22% is the equivalent of powering 79 British homes for a whole year. Additionally, we have sourced over 2m garments in sustainable cotton since joining the Better Cotton Initiative in August.

“And our standardised clothes hangers now use black plastic made of 98% recycled material, so we can recycle and reuse them in a closed loop. As a result, Debenhams has reduced CO2 emissions from this product by 40% and now sends zero waste to landfill.”

Building on existing processes overlaid with these commitments will act as a platform for Debenhams to achieve its new sustainability goals.

The retailer is standardising the swing tickets across all its own brands to a single size, manufactured with FSC certified papers including removal of plastic lamination.

With regards to using sustainable cotton, Debenhams has shown its commitment by sourcing almost 1m kg of BCI cotton already; the equivalent of 2.2 million pairs of jeans. Its renewed commitment is to source all of its cotton requirement sustainably – using BCI, organic or recycled fibre – by 2022.

The commitments made by Debenhams on behalf of its mainstream Mantaray collection and for the future, its Designer brand Hammond by Patrick Grant, follow the launch of a capsule designer collection last season, designed by Graduate Fashion Week award winner, Kate MacMahon. Each piece in the collection was made with a minimum of 50% sustainable fibres.

Steven Cook, Debenhams MD of Fashion, Home & Beauty, said:

“In 2019, consumers spent increasing amounts on well-being and experiences and their focus on ethical and sustainable retailing is rising. These trends look set to continue in 2020 – fortunately department stores are well placed to cater for them. Our goal is that every product we sell should have at least one sustainable attribute.”

Sportswear brand, Under Armour, to host pop-up sample sale in British Heart Foundation (BHF) Manchester shop

January 21st, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Popular sportswear brand Under Armour is setting up shop this month in leading charity retailer’s Chorlton branch

This January, the BHF Manchester store will be undergoing a shop takeover, selling Under Armour sample products at discounted prices for just three days.

High quality sportswear will be going on sale at huge markdown prices, with all money raised from sales going towards the BHF’s life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.

This rare opportunity to purchase discounted items from the brand will be taking place from 9am on Friday 24th January until 4pm on 26th January. The charity hopes locals looking to get fit as part of their New Year’s resolution will take advantage of the deals on hoodies, fitness wear, trainers and more and show their support for the charity’s vital work.

Not only will the sports brand be donating all money raised by the sales to the BHF, but the company’s head office will also be volunteering at the shop over the course of the weekend. This came about in a show of solidarity of their colleague who was recently personally affected by heart disease. They will be chatting to customers, advising on technical and sizing questions and helping provide the charity with much needed volunteering hours.

Jane Flannery, Regional Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We’re so grateful to Under Armour for their support and generosity in donating their stock and helping us arrange this takeover of our Chorlton shop. We hope the sales of this incredible sportswear brand will help raise much needed funds for research into devastating conditions such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia.

If you’re looking to get fit this New Year, why not head down to our Chorlton shop and get kitted out in stylish activewear at bargain prices, before it’s all gone.”

Each year, 935 people lose their life to heart and circulatory diseases in Manchester and currently 49,400 people are living with these devastating conditions across the city. All money raised from the Under Armour partnership will go towards accelerating research into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat heart and circulatory diseases.

As the UK’s largest charity retailer, each year the BHF’s 740 shops help raise £30 million for life-saving research. Without the public’s generous support the BHF could not continue to turn bargains into scientific breakthroughs.

From 27th January the Chorlton shop will be back to business as usual and any high-quality donations will be gratefully received, whether you want to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents or are simply having a January clear-out.

To find your nearest BHF shop or store head to

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