Sponsored by

Paul Bessant
Retail Knowledge



Free recruitment for those working in risk management

Our risk management recruitment service is now completely free to use for candidates, retailers and vendors… until further notice

We are in the midst of a risk management recruitment frenzy…

Those businesses that have had a tough time are now recruiting to rebuild teams.

Others are recruiting to fill new and exciting posts created as a result of their expansion.

Whether you are looking for additional team members or want to quietly let it be known that you could be in the market for a move yourself, if the right offer came along, please get in touch…

For many years now Retail Knowledge has offered a discrete, specialised recruitment service. We are often involved in headhunting for the most senior positions, but we have also been instrumental in helping businesses to recruit less senior managerial talent on both retailer and vendor sides.

The reason that we are successful is because we are plugged-in to the retail risk management network in a way that no other organisation possibly can be, with our extensive network of contacts created through 20 years of in person and digital conferences, dinners and special events dedicated to retail risk.

The good news is that, until further notice, we are offering to help you fill your vacancies at no cost to your organisation. We will be reintroducing our 15% fee at some time in the future, but for now we are waiving it.

Paul Bessant, Founder of Retail Knowledge, commented “We are waiving our fees to support a beleaguered retail industry that needs to rapidly recruit top talent, but just now could do without incurring the usual costs associated with finding and hiring the best people.”

Naturally, all communications are strictly confidential.

If you are recruiting, we have a pool of risk managers and vendor side executives available – many of whom are “unofficially” looking for the right opportunities. And if you are open to offers yourself, then let us know and we can make sure you are kept up to date with opportunities in the industry – the ones you never see advertised!

And since there are no fees involved, what have you go to lose!?!

Contact Kelly Bird on +44 (0) 207 100 3 999 or email [email protected]

Dan Hardy
Managing Director
Amberstone Security



Book your place for “Retail Risk – The Reunion” today…

Retail Risk – London L.I.V.E™ takes place on 16th June 2021, followed by the Fraud Awards. What could possibly go worng?

With the vaccines being rolled out at pace with more than 1 in 8 members of the population having already received a jab, that’s a real “shot in the arm” for Retail Risk – London L.I.V.E™ taking place in June…

The conference will be the first major in-person gathering of senior risk managers since October 2019. Followed by the Fraud Awards – sponsored by WIS International – the day is being feted as “The Reunion” for our industry.

Retail Risk – London L.I.V.E™ will be an in-person conference as in previous times. However, through the L.I.V.E. Lounge™ we will simultaneously broadcast some content live from the event, such as special presentations, discussion groups, sponsors’ workshops and interviews to a large, virtual audience.

And that’s good news, because those of your team who cannot justify a whole day out of the office can still join in. And so too can colleagues from other departments, such as Logistics, HR, IT, Operations and Finance for whom perhaps only part of the day is relevant to their remits. They don’t have to miss out.

To book your place click HERE…



The high street is not dead. It’s only “resting.”

Are the recent store closures the last straw for the high street? Or is it the beginning of a renewed appreciation for in store shopping?

Online fashion retailer Boohoo has bought the Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton brands from failed retail group Arcadia for £25.2m.

The deal includes the brands and online businesses, but not the 214 shops or the 2,450 workers employed in them. 
Last week, Boohoo rival Asos bought the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands, but again not the shops. Asos is paying £265m for the brands and a further £30m for the stock. About 70 stores will close in addition to the 50 closed over recent weeks. 

The Boohoo deal completes the sell-off of Sir Philip Green’s once mighty Arcadia Group, which went bust last year. The Group employed 13,000 people. 

Also last week, Boohoo agreed a deal to buy the Debenhams brand and website for £55m. However, once again the price tag did not include any of the retailer’s remaining 118 stores or its workforce, resulting in up to 12,000 job losses.

The closure of so many stores, in addition to the problems being caused to many other retailers by enforced lockdown closure, means that there is going to be a big, big hole in the high street. Many are predicting that it is the beginning of the end. However, I’m not so sure…

I don’t know about you, but if I shop online I don’t buy one size of anything when it comes to clothing. I buy multiple sizes. I reason that if you can’t try the sizes on you can’t be sure how generous or otherwise they are. Everyone has experienced this. My preferred fit changes from brand to brand. So, I’m never quite sure what size to get. What happens when the package arrives? I choose the size that fits me best and then send the others back.

We know that even pre pandemic, many top retailers would expect 50% of everything that they sold online to be returned to them for credit. That was true before the pandemic and if anything, as people have become accustomed to online shopping and how to do it in a way that suits them best, they will probably not have ordered less. If anything, they will order more items to be sure of getting a good fit. So my question is have those retailers posting huge trading figures during lockdown from their online operations allowed for the vast amount of returns they can expect coming back through their stores when they re-open? Because the value of credits that they will be giving could be almost as attention grabbing as the original sales figures that they announced!

Second, when a shopper returns something to your store in normal times you can immediately check it to see if it is damaged. If it is a piece of clothing it gets inspected and hung up on a rail ready for the next customer to buy. Not so with online. Thousands of parcels heading your way containing returned goods all have to be opened. The enclosed item then needs to be inspected, checked and sent to be repackaged. Once repacked it is transported back into stock and once that is done then it can be sent out. But it will incur a separate picking cost and possible transport cost to the new customer. And every process, every contact with the product is chipping away at precious profit margin. By comparison stores are the cheapest way to service customers’ needs from a direct cost perspective.

Many years ago I worked for a PPE company. When we sold PPE, unseen, a proportion of it would come back to us as unsuitable. Even in that modest operation the amount of space and time taken up processing returns, inspecting and repacking was grossly out of proportion to the amount of sales of that product. It was huge! Having experience that first hand, how some of the big DCs are dealing with the thousands of items they receive back every day is difficult to comprehend. 
Of course if you are groaning under a tidal wave of returns the cost of unpacking, sorting, checking, repacking and repositioning the stock is not the only issue. It is also ‘time.’ 

A customer returning an item sees it as “returned” as soon as they post if off. They do not want the personal hardship of having to wait even a day for their credit card or bank to be recredited. That could create a personal cashflow issue for some people. So the pressure is on for you to credit their account quickly. That means the longer it takes you to give the credit the less satisfactory the shopper will find their experience. And perhaps the less likely they will be to order online from you again. There are loads of stories of some retailers taking a month to credit returns. It is very bad for business. Contrast this with returning an item in store and, after a cursory inspection by a sales assistant, getting an immediate refund on your card. Simples!

Another great time pressure comes from changing fashion. What you are selling in February is not going to be the same as you will be selling in April. Seasons and fashion change. Some clothing retailers are working on six seasons a year. Because of delays to getting items back on sale via the returns process, you may well find fashion sold as part of a winter collection makes its way back on your shelves when you are launching your spring collection. Then you may have to offer big discounts to shoppers to get them to buy out of season clothing and free up space for stock too.

Looking at it from a retail perspective, the high street has other things to commend it apart from lower volumes of returns. Not least as some retail space gets repurposed to city centre accommodation, that will drive up demand locally for city centre stores. Plus with the Government pledged to cut emissions to 68% of 1990 levels by 2030, the last thing planners want to do now is encourage people to drive to out of city centre locations because that is not environmentally friendly. So increased numbers of people in city centres must mean increased retail opportunities. And another thing…

Part of the shopping experience in the high street is around impulse purchases. If I am online I am going to look for a product and research it thoroughly to make sure I get the best of breed deal for me, with the best delivery and at the best price. If you are not the best deal then generally speaking you are not going to get my order. Contrast this with the impulse purchase in a store.  
If I see a jacket I like and the sales assistant offers me the chance to try it on with a shirt, chances are I will buy the shirt too. This is not news. It is upselling. However, online people do not impulse purchase in the same way. They carefully research what they want and then buy it. And if I am offered an additional opportunity I will then go and research that too, because I realise how these things work. The same is true of ‘bargains…’ 

I love sales. It is part of my high street routine. What is so great about this is not just the fact that you can buy clothing and other things at reduced prices, but the fact that you have a key part of the shopping experience. One day offers and bargain discounts are emotionally more appealing in a retail environment, where you can see and feel the bargain that you are getting. That emotional connectivity makes it all the more exciting when you snag a bargain. That just is not the same when you are shopping online.

And then you have the passion of the sales person. I have ventured into stores in which I have only a passing interest to be so well engaged by the retailer that I end up buying the product. Not because I especially wanted it or needed it. I buy because the retailer has been so courteous enthusiastic and passionate about helping me to own their product that I could not bring myself to leave without it! There is no equivalent online to that interpersonal connection that you make with a great sales person. One with a passion for what they do. I appreciate that there has been criticism of retail stores for focusing on the use of cheap unskilled labour with no training. However, I do think that going forward retailers are going to capitalise on the opportunity that they get from having great sales people on the shop floor. People who are excited about their products and want to share that enthusiasm with others. It is infectious.

As you would expect I regularly video call my colleagues at Sekura. Even though we can see each other on video, we all agree that the thing we miss most about work is that we can’t just get together and go for a walk and chat at lunchtime. We can’t nip out for a sandwich, or just chat the chat about the game, or well… just ‘stuff’. That human interaction is what we  miss most. And I think that the same is true of stores. 

What retail is in danger of missing here is that in some ways being able to order from the comfort of your own home is convenient. That has an appeal and a place in retail for sure. However, the vast majority of the time shopping, even for necessities like groceries and food, should be a pleasurable experience. And the truth is that there is no substitute for mixing with friends, family, other shoppers and sales people in live environments where there is a buzz around the shopping experience.

Finding the latest must have item and then securing it, ideally at a bargain price upon the recommendation of an enthusiastic sales person to take home and impress your family with as a whole experience. It is emotional not merely transactional.
We are a species of social creatures. We crave the society of others. And that is, bottom line, why in my opinion retail will always be on the high street.

Sekura Global are sponsors or Retail Risk – Melbourne L.I.V.E™ which takes place on 22nd April 2021. To register for the conference click HERE…

Edward Price
UK Business Manager
Sekura Global


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Email: [email protected]

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