Spotlight on retail as big names head to Birmingham

By Brad Davies

October 27th 2016

Brexit and big names going bust have undoubtedly affected the UK’s retail market but what’s next for the industry? An event being held next month will shine a light on the state of the nation’s retail sector bringing together experts from brands like Westfield, McDonald’s, John Lewis and bmibaby.

Led by Andy Street, who remains Managing Director of John Lewis as he launches his campaign to be the first elected Mayor of the West Midlands, this special thought leadership event is bringing retail experts together to look at the challenges and opportunities facing the sector, which brought £339 billion to the UK’s economy in 2015. His keynote will focus on the success of the John Lewis Partnership and explore how emotive marketing has helped the brand really capitalise on the seasonal Christmas period. His sentiments will likely be echoed by bmibaby Co-Founder, Anthony Davis, who will look at branding and the consumer experience.

Commenting on his involvement in the event, Andy Street said:

“Events like this, which bring together those leading the industry, are instrumental to the retail sector staying at the forefront of Britain’s economic growth. In the turbulent times that we currently face as a nation, it is more important than ever that we support one another to grow and that we adapt to the inevitable changes taking place. I am looking forward to giving my keynote about the Christmas campaigns that John Lewis excels at and that have become synonymous with our brand; but equally I am excited to hear what is working for those around us and learn more about the ever-evolving sector that we are a part of.”

The afternoon, which is being organised by Hollywood Monster and hosted at its 30,000 sq ft Tyseley Headquarters, will also welcome McDonalds’ Head of Development, Gareth Hudson, to look at the role of property in the retail market. A report released by LDC (Local Data Company) this week said that England’s national vacancy rate was down, standing at 11.3%, but this was also due to fewer new openings and store closures. Large cities and towns are improving vacancy rates, down to 12.3%, but with Myf Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer for Westfield, addressing the changing role of the high street and the evolution of the shopping centre experience, this insight will be welcomed. Birmingham remains the only city outside of London to boast the big five department stores – Debenhams, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, John Lewis and Selfridges – and is home to major shopping centres Bullring, Grand Central and the Mailbox.

Adding to the importance of in-store experience will be Karl McKeever, who is Managing Director of Visual Thinking and one of the world’s most respected retail experts. He will share shopping psychology and customer insight with brands, print and broadcast media, as well as discuss the customer experience and commercial performance for some of the world’s biggest brands.

The role of the media and digital landscape will also be under scrutiny when VAX’s Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Aimee Corbett, looks at brands gaining ROI from media investment. Followed by Social Chain CEO, Steven Bartlett, who will take to the stage to discuss how social media plays a crucial role in enhancing the consumer experience.

Simon McKenzie, who was appointed Managing Director of Hollywood Monster last month, said:

“This is a once in a lifetime chance for our region’s retailers, property planners, construction companies, and creative agencies to hear from such a fantastic set of experts. Our client base includes retailers large and small, and in order to provide the most effective and impactful service, we have to understand what’s happening in the industry.

“With this event, we’re bringing together some big brands – Bullring, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Westfield, Banner, Bilfinger GVA, Ted Baker – to discuss the current state of the industry – how to make the most of the opportunities and overcome the challenges. This event will shine a light on how retailers can use marketing to attract audiences and encourage loyalty, evoke emotion through advertising, and combating the uncertainty of Brexit. It’s sure to be an unmissable event.”