First Retail's Chris Wilkinson on the year that was in retail

  • News
  • December 22, 2016
  • Elly Strang
First Retail's Chris Wilkinson on the year that was in retail

Who’s your pick for retail “personality” of the year? Who’s someone that made clever, calculated moves and excelled above their peers?

It would be Mike Beagley of Rodd & Gunn. The company has made an audacious and enthusiastic launch into the US market with some amazing stores there - including a stunning new flagship in Fashion Island, Newport Beach. Here in New Zealand they've done some cool stuff too, with the new "Lodge Bar" as part of their new Queenstown store. This is aspirational and immersive retailing at its best. 

Which retail company gave a stand out performance in 2016?

We think Barkers is the business that's hitting all the right notes. Great ranging, engaging customer strategies, major brand alliances (such as Volvo cars) and partnerships with New Zealand icons like Swandri. New stores too, with the latest opening in Wellington's hip Cuba Street Precinct.

Which retailer made the best comeback in 2016?

Placemakers have launched a new store concept which is aimed at re-welcoming consumers into its previously trade-focused branches.  

Who are retailers on the rise to watch in 2017?

Animates continues its storming growth and store optimisation programme. We think they are doing a lot of things right. 

Kmart is a brand that's won consumers hearts and spend through new ranging, a very clear value proposition and new self service model. New stores are coming which will help transform some towns.

Which retailer suffered the biggest fall from grace in 2016?

Hss to be Pumpkin Patch. From the top table to the compost heap, sadly no one wanted what was left of the once-darling of New Zealand's retailing scene. 

What was the best retail innovation that emerged in 2016?

Tap-n-go has been around a few years now, but 2016 was when it received mainstream support across the sector from both retailers and consumers. Now, retailers that don't have this are almost universally apologetic - while shoppers wave their cards expectantly at legacy terminals.

What should retailers be thinking about going into 2017? 

Get yourselves on radar with consumers digitally, otherwise you're simply not in the consideration set. A key reason why New Zealand has so much offshore spending attrition is because these big retailers are just so visible digitally in our patch. It doesn't take much to turn that around with savvy coding, smart sites and effective use of social media.

Are there any predictions you want to make about the future of retail?

The arrival of the big overseas brands in New Zealand has helped consumers reconnect with the wider retail sector. We have a golden opportunity to excite and delight shoppers now they're coming back through our doors, as long as stores can deliver an experience that differentiates, connects deeply and meaningfully and leverages aspiration. 

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