The impact of Brexit made itself a significant factor to some retailers woes in 2017. However, those with strong product and a personality weathered the storm and many grew their business, market share, and set trend for their niche or mass market.

The economic landscape demands a high level of prudence but not fear. A focus on how to interpret trend to your established audience and meet their expectation is important this year, creating a point of difference that is not so avant garde that it dissuades new customers, but intrigues and delights to try – fall in love and begin an affair with your brand.

Credible intelligence is required to support strategic decisions. This is often free information and requires careful study of all that is on offer, without oversensationalising –  to disseminate and relate to your business or, indeed, your career. Where there is risk and how can that risk be mitigated? Here, knowledge really is power.

Smart thinking cannot be underestimated. Long term plans are difficult to believe in; longer than three months is almost a dream rather than a plan, but plan we must, though with great prudence and diligence. Buying and merchandising have never been more important to a brand or business. Curating collections with care to your local and overseas market should be a quantifiable mix of science and art.

Key to all of these factors is the design studio and front line in the store, virtual or otherwise, be that your own or your wholesale customer.

Imaginatively designed product with flair, created by individuals with an innate taste level, can apply their taste to a given target audience without losing sight of a brands DNA.

Super sales people, led with flair and charisma, offering the customer an experience are key, be that in fast retail, online or in store. It’s all about engagement, presence and that subtle appreciation of when to step away and let the customer shop, soak in the beauty of product and the vibration of the store, following through with true customer service, that engages and endears the customer to the shopping experience.

All business must be driven from a relevant strategy top down, delivered by enthusiastic executives who coach and develop despite challenges and lead from the front – the best lead with empathy and are generous with their praise and thanks.

This may all sound so simple but perhaps it is; overcooking it just spoils the broth…

My message: distill down what you know and find out what you don’t. Don’t overly complicate your model. Keep planning tight and inventory low, listen to your customer and don’t be afraid to change direction quickly whatever your size.

Treat your people well, and treat your suppliers as partners – they are a great source of information and their flexibility can be the make of a season.

We have a fountain of knowledge gained from some of the brightest in our industry, who we speak with every single day. Never breaking confidence but always asking if we can share a great piece of wisdom – the first place you can gather some knowledge is DBP & le Pont

Best Wishes,