Archive for the ‘Latest News’ Category

Scot Strongman in Show of Strength for Mental Health Charity

June 1st, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Five time winner of Scotland’s Strongest Man, Luke Stoltman, teamed-up with Co-op colleagues in Invergordon in a show of support for mental wellbeing to highlight that we are all “stronger” if we work together.

Co-op is committed to creating healthier, happier communities and has partnered with SAMH in Scotland, working closely with the charity to make mental health a priority.

The High Street, Invergordon, Co-op team – one of around 20 Co-op stores locally to embark on a 100KM static cycle challenge – were joined by strongman competitor Luke Stoltman who popped to his local Co-op in a bid to raise funds and awareness for mental Health. The stores raised over £5,000 in one week, money which will help the charity to provide a range of mental health support and services in communities.

Luke Stoltman, said in a short video (abridged): “In the UK and communities across the World, especially during this crisis we are going through at the moment, I think we have all been affected by mental health in some way, shape or form. That is why I think it is so close to everyone’s heart. It is hard to be positive all the time, and so that’s where close, supportive, positive networks come in to play.”

Paul Thomson, Co-op Area Manager, said: “By co-operating and working together we really can make a difference – I am so proud of the Co-op team, keeping shelves stocked, spirits high and communities fed during the Covid-19 crisis they really are local heroes.

“Mental wellbeing in our communities is an area that needs our support. It’s also one of those issues people still find difficult to talk about, despite the fact it can affect any of us at any time – the team had a fantastic week raising funds and awareness, and we are thrilled that Luke Stoltman took the time to join us to get behind this important issue – we are all ‘stronger’ when we work together!”

Photo: Luke Stoltman with Paul Thomson, Co-op Area Manager.

Liverpool ONE prepares to re-open

June 1st, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Grosvenor Europe is preparing to reopen Liverpool ONE, following the Government’s announcement allowing all non-essential stores to re-open from 15 June. The Liverpool ONE team has been working around the clock to ensure visitors will remain safe and assured at all times upon their return.

Liverpool ONE benefits from being an open-air destination and features wide shopping boulevards and Chavasse Park, to allow people to move around freely while easily observing the 2-metre social distancing rule. Visitors will be advised to keep to the left at all times and on the upper level of South John Street, a one-way walk-way will be in place. Additional hand sanitiser stations will be positioned across the estate and all staff will have face masks and gloves. Furthermore, the toilet facilities will be open with no charge and will have additional cleaning measures in place.

Individual retailers are likely to restrict the numbers allowed in stores at any one time and designated queuing areas will be in place to accommodate shoppers, so visitors are being asked to be patient, kind and responsible as they and retailers adapt to the new format. Revised opening hours are in place Monday – Saturday allowing staff to avoid peak travel times. Stores will continue to open as normal on a Sunday between 11am and 5pm.

Alison Clegg, Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor Europe, commented: “The team has worked hard in consultation with our retailers to prepare a safe and welcoming environment, with many measures in place to ensure everyone visiting and working at Liverpool ONE are protected under the national guidelines. We are now looking forward to welcoming back our visitors to Liverpool ONE in the newly adapted scheme. Our primary focus is for visitors to safely enjoy the outdoor spaces and once again start supporting the local economy in this period of recovery.”

Many of the restaurants across Liverpool ONE are currently offering take away and click and collect services until they are expected to re-open, which may be in July, subject to Government guidance.  In addition, Liverpool-based independent Asian street food restaurant, Maggie Fu, is set to launch its flagship restaurant, once the lockdown lifts.

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hush announces launch of new ecommerce website

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

hush announces launch of new ecommerce website, introducing an elevated digital retail experience for their global customer base.

Fashion and lifestyle brand hush launced their new ecommerce website on Tuesday 26th May 2020, using the platform Salesforce.

The new mobile first site has been designed with the handheld user in mind, making the site x6 faster for those browsing via mobile, and with the introduction of the digital payment and wallet service Apple Pay for increased IOS convenience.

Rupert Youngman, Managing Director of hush says: “We’re immensely proud of our new website and can’t wait for our customers to finally be able to use it after many months of development. The goal was to build a seamless ecommerce retail experience, whilst at the same time allowing our customers to immerse themselves in our brand and content. The new site combines best in class UX and aesthetic design, which don’t always lend themselves to each other. Ultimately customers will now be able to shop both quickly and effortlessly, or equally spend hours browsing and discovering our vast library of rich editorial content.”

To support the growth of hush in the online retail market, the brand has chosen to host the new site on the Salesforce Cloud platform. This technological improvement will allow hush to take advantage of access to the platform’s extensive tool set, providing the brand with extensive data to support further innovation.

The creation of a stand-alone international site allows hush to improve the local customer experience, whilst also expanding its accessibility to the global digital market. International shoppers now have the choice to pay in local currency and use local delivery services.

Icon Outlet to Reopen at The O2

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Icon Outlet at The O2 has announced it will reopen its doors at The O2 on Monday 15 June. The re-opening of Icon Outlet is part of a phased re-opening approach for the world’s most popular music, entertainment and leisure venue.

Spread out across two spacious levels, Icon Outlet’s fashion and lifestyle brands will open their doors from the 15 June including, Aspinal of London, adidas, Calvin Klein, Levis, Nike, Ted Baker and Tommy Hilfiger. The urban outlet has introduced enhanced measures within its clean and contemporary surroundings to ensure health and safety remains the highest priority for everyone visiting and working at the venue.

Opening daily initially from 11-5pm, the new measures adhere to government guidelines, and include:

  • Installing clear signage and playing audio announcements, which encourage visitors to observe the two metre social distancing advise in stores and around site
  • Promoting one way systems where they apply; requiring visitors to keep to the left as much as possible and respecting one another’s space
  • Payments will only be accepted via cards or contactless payments
  • Thorough cleaning regimes have been extended, with additional hand sanitising stations provided and regular deep cleans in all public areas
  • The location of bathroom facilities have been separated to reduce queues
  • The venue will also offer a limited menu from take away food and beverage retailers

In addition to the enhanced measures, many retailers have changed their internal store layouts to provide more room and easier navigation. Icon Outlet will also provide up to four hours free parking for visitors until the end of July, and those wishing to avoid the roads are encouraged to travel by Thames Clippers, which runs a frequent River Bus service from central London to North Greenwich Pier, once their service resumes.

Janine Constantin-Russell, Managing Director of Icon Outlet said: “We are more than fortunate to have a large, well ventilated space alongside an experienced team who are on hand to ensure all of our visitors and staff can comfortably enjoy a safe and welcoming shopping experience. All of our brands have been busy implementing safety measures and updating their product offering. Throughout the lockdown period, we have been working hard to enhance our retail line-up and further details will be released in the coming months. Right now, we are looking forward to reopening the doors of our outlet shops and welcoming back our visitors.”

Soon to also re-open will be Up at The O2, the 90 minute roof walk climb over the top of the building. New measures have been put in place that will enable the smooth operation of this in line with guidelines from early July.

Currently the rest of The O2, including The O2 arena remains closed for events following government advice. During the last six weeks, the NHS transformed The O2 arena into a training facility for those going on to work at the NHS Nightingale Hospital at ExCel London. The facility closed on Friday 22 May and NHS staff have gifted the venue with a commemorative piece of artwork which now hangs pride of place in the backstage area.

Brands shouldn’t disappear completely, but they must adjust advertising strategies to reflect the new order, say eyeo

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Simple and reassuring brand messages now required if brands are to respect changing consumer values 

Under normal circumstances, most brands are able advertise without fear of causing too much controversy. Unless, of course, they decide to run the gauntlet on a political or social issue. However, COVID-19 has ripped up the advertising playbook, with many brands choosing to pause all advertising for fear of appearing too insensitive in the eyes of the consumer.

It’s reasonable that some brands have become reticent in taking their message to market for fear of offending audiences, particularly when advertising directly next to coronavirus news, leading to a halt in advertising spend. But according to eyeo, inactivity will equally have long-term negative consequences for a business. Instead, brands able to demonstrate awareness of the crisis, by delivering tasteful, socially conscious forms of advertising, will not only resonate well with consumers but will put them in a position for revenue gains and a competitive advantage on the other side of the pandemic.

For Ben Williams, Director of Advocacy at eyeo, it is critical brands recognise this change in consumer values and deliver adverts to reflect this. Failure to do so and they could risk brands permanently vanishing.

“Understandably, brands have become incredibly cautious about taking the wrong message to market, hence a significant slowdown in advertising efforts amongst organisations. The situation is truly unprecedented and it’s important brands are respectful of this and adapt their campaigns accordingly.

“Relevant, respectful advertising is still possible, and advisable, even if avoiding any relation to coronavirus in those adverts may be impossible. As such, the approach that is now needed is for brands to remain present, but ensure they pivot any advertising strategies in a way that is more balanced and tasteful. That doesn’t mean they must be overbearingly serious, or worse, morose – or again repeat that ‘we’re all in this together’. That’s all of course fine, but they can also be … funny.”

Ben added: “It is understandable that some businesses feel too uncomfortable having their brand close to coverage about COVID-19. However, for those cautiously re-examining their approach to how they advertise in today’s climate, the new order simply has to be putting a more balanced value exchange in place that trades readers’ attention for tasteful adverts. This could be done by talking about their own brand in a carefree and light way – for instance, making light of how bored we are at home – or simply lending support to the messaging of government and health organisations.

“If brands are able to switch their approach, they will ensure that advertising lands as intended and delivers short-term sales and long-term equity, which is particularly important at a time when many media budgets have been reduced and ROI is harder to come by,” concluded Ben.

Shaftesbury Community Fund Supports First Local Initiatives

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Shaftesbury’s recently created Community Fund has made its first disbursements to local charities and community groups in the West End. Over £53,000 has been donated, representing 37% of the Fund, which was established following the decision by its board to reduce their salaries and pension contributions by 20% for three months from April 1.  Shaftesbury’s non-executive directors have made a 20% reduction to their fees for the same period.

The initiatives supported to date by Shaftesbury’s Community Fund include:

  • Hiring a refrigerated unit for three months for North Paddington Foodbank. The unit has enabled the foodbank to store larger quantities of fresh food to supplement tins and packaged food
  • Purchasing a freezer and PPE equipment, and supporting other core running costs of a new Covent Garden Food Bank created by Dragon Hall and Seven Dials Community Centre, held in the Seven Dials Club
  • Supporting a hardship fund set-up by Soho Parish School to provide food vouchers for families struggling financially.  This hardship fund bridges the gap between applying for free school meals and receiving them. Around 20 families have been identified as beneficiaries
  • Funding the purchase of laptops by Soho Parish School for families in need to enable their children to continue to learn remotely and for teachers to allow them to use the appropriate remote learning software to teach their classes online
  • Supporting a learning tools fund created by Camden Council for up to 50 families with limited access to resources.  The fund will buy equipment including laptops, board games and book tokens
  • Paying for materials needed by the Samaritans to make their Central London branch Covid-19 safe for volunteers and staff.  Works included reconfiguring the building to enable social distancing, enhancing ventilation, fitting new locks, providing sanitising products, and installing a larger washing machine

Commenting on the support from the Fund, James Quayle, Manager of the North Paddington Foodbank, said: “The support from Shaftesbury’s Community Fund has allowed us to provide even more help to the many households struggling due to coronavirus. The new fridge means we can hold larger quantities of fruit and vegetables to use within more of our food parcels, improving their nutritional value. We can now also accept the 1,000s of high quality ready meals generously donated every week by restaurants and hotels such as The Ivy and The Berkeley. These are stored then distributed with our food parcels across the community.”

Brian Bickell, Chief Executive of Shaftesbury, added: “Shaftesbury has a long-term commitment to  London’s West End and support for its local community is embedded in our values and strategy. The Community Fund is aiding local partners in this first round of awards to provide help where it is most needed in Westminster and Camden during the current situation. The Fund will be providing further support over the coming weeks to other groups and we encourage any local organisation needing assistance to make contact.”

Shaftesbury has established a Committee to administer the Community Fund so that money is awarded as quickly as possible. The Fund, which will provide support totalling £144,000, is in addition to the Company’s regular support for charities and other not for profit organisations, which in the last financial year totalled £820,0001, equivalent to 1.5% of EPRA earnings.

1. Measured in accordance with London Benchmarking Group guidelines

Jisp Becomes the Official Shopping App for the Federation of Independent Retailers

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Alton-based mobile app Jisp has partnered with the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) to empower retailers with a solution providing same-day Home Delivery, Click & Collect, mobile payments and in-store Scan & Go services.

Consumers can turn to their local stores to benefit from the ultimate convenience – one mobile app serving all of their needs with a suite of contact-free shopping solutions for both in-store and at home. Whilst previously only available within major supermarkets, local retailers will now be able to offer in-store barcode scanning with shoppers’ smartphones, automatically adding products to the virtual basket and allowing them to checkout securely via the Jisp app.

Julian Fisher, CEO of Jisp, said: “We are delighted to become the big voice for smaller businesses wishing to kickstart their digital presence with Jisp solutions. With the ongoing pandemic many people have turned their attention to cashless purchases and online shopping, leaving local retailers and businesses struggling against the might of retail giants and supermarkets.

“Jisp was not only able to answer the call for contact-free shopping behaviour but meet the needs of the Federation in a very short time. We are looking forward to this fantastic partnership that establishes a new benchmark for customer engagement and communication.”

Where COVID-19 and social distancing dictate the current consumer behaviour, the digital transformation will help independent stores to avoid unnecessary human interactions and negate the queues, creating an additional income stream in these challenging times.

Stuart Reddish, National President of Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), said: “COVID has accelerated digital in retail and, given the current complexities of serving customers, along with future opportunities digital brings, we’re pleased to announce this brand-new partnership with Jisp. This opportunity comes at a time where physical meets digital in Retail, and we’re well placed to provide the most advanced app for our members across UK & ROI that will be loved by our customers too.

“Whether it’s Home Delivery, Click & Collect, Scan & Go, communications or gamification, this app will set the benchmark for the retail experience of the future”.

A number of NFRN member’s stores will be trialling the app over coming weeks. The launch date and locations will be revealed shortly.

McColls announces Board and Executive appointments

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

McColl’s Retail Group plc (“McColl’s” or “the Group”) is pleased to announce that, following a thorough search process, it has appointed Giles David to the Board as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Giles will join the Group on 1st June 2020. Giles has over two decades of experience in senior finance roles across retail, hospitality, property and telecoms, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Jonathan Miller, Chief Executive, said: “Giles is a highly experienced CFO with a real understanding of customer-facing businesses, and I’m delighted he’s joining McColl’s. This is a very busy time for our business with increased customer demand, as we work hard to serve customers in neighbourhoods across the UK, and we’re really looking forward to having Giles on board and benefiting from his expertise.” 

Giles David said: “I am excited to be joining McColl’s and look forward to working with Jonathan, the Board and all my new colleagues. As a leading neighbourhood retailer, McColl’s is playing an invaluable role in serving local communities at this time. It will be a privilege to be part of that work, and as we look to the future, I believe we have a real opportunity to deliver on the Group’s strategy to drive growth in the years ahead.”

McColl’s is also announcing today that Richard Crampton, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), has been appointed to the Board with effect from 1st June 2020. 

Richard’s appointment to the Board is in recognition of the valuable contribution he has made to the Group since he joined McColl’s in September 2019 in the newly created position of CCO. Richard has been responsible for accelerating the development of the Group’s commercial strategy and further enhancing the customer proposition.

Additionally, Benedict Smith has been appointed to the Board as Non-Executive Director with effect from 1st July 2020. On appointment he will join the Audit & Risk Committee, Remuneration Committee and Nomination Committee. Benedict was recently Interim Group CFO of Dennis Publishing Group and has a wealth of experience in retail, having previously held Group CFO positions at Hunter Boot, GAME Digital, Harrods and Spirit Group.

Angus Porter, Chairman, said: “I am delighted to welcome Giles, Richard and Benedict to the Board of McColl’s. Giles brings with him strong financial stewardship, Richard’s is a well-deserved appointment having already made a significant contribution to the business, and Benedict has in-depth retail industry knowledge and expertise that we will greatly benefit from.”

Buy now, Pay later

May 29th, 2020 | Latest News | 0 Comments

Andy Harding, UK Managing Director at Openpay shares his thoughts on how buy now, pay later options can help retailers weather the impact of COVID-19, by offering consumers a cost-neutral budgeting tool that helps retailers to grow ATV.

Since the start of the pandemic, the way we shop has changed dramatically. The closure of non-essential shops on the high street has resulted in a huge number of retailers now solely operating online, with major financial and logistical implications. Even when lockdown begins to ease, businesses will have continued social distancing measures to contend with. In response to this tumultuous economic climate, retailers across the board are adapting to life under lockdown, from adjusting returns and delivery policies to introducing new promotions and discounts. Offering consumers flexibility and reassurance is more important than ever and maintaining or extending this same flexibility to payment options is another important step for retailers to take to ensure they are in a good position to weather the storm.

Before the pandemic hit there was already growing adoption amongst UK consumers of buy now, pay later schemes. At a time when many are having to tighten the purse strings, we can expect to see more consumers turning to buy now, pay later options to spreads costs and keep some semblance of normality to their shopping habits.

Aside from encouraging more responsible spending by consumers, buy now, pay later options also offer benefits to the retailer in a number of ways. Firstly, services such as Openpay, which require an upfront payment, help to drive down returns for retailers. As consumers consider their purchases more thoroughly when having to part with some of their money at the point of sale, they are far less likely to buy more than they intended to keep as a result. Secondly, average transaction value tends to increase when buy now, pay later options are utilised because consumers are able to spread out costs. Finally, retailers can enjoy improved consumer loyalty as shoppers, after experiencing the benefits, revisit merchants who provide flexible payment methods.

With many of us having more time to browse the internet for things we want, the challenge for businesses now is converting this activity into actual sales. While buy now, pay later options can be a differentiator in themselves, investment in sustainability, particularly around returns and deliveries, will help retailers stand out from competitors even further. Especially as growing awareness of this issue is accelerating in the current climate. Also, and most importantly, maintaining the same levels of financial flexibility will be key for retailers in fostering trust and confidence amongst their customers, as will increased and transparent communications. If these things are done successfully, retailers will be in a much stronger position when the economic storm eventually does subside.

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