We were delighted to welcome Darren Topp, CEO of LK Bennett and former CEO of BHS as guest speaker at our Annual Midlands Consumer, Retail & Leisure Dinner last week. With his natural, open and engaging style, Darren touched on a number of themes including the challenges facing the retail industry and the role of leadership in overcoming these challenges.
Retail is currently facing what could be described as its own ‘industrial revolution’. We all agree that times are tough but analysts predict tougher times ahead, impacting not only shareholders but critically employees as significant job losses are anticipated over the next 5 years.
Traditional market rules no longer apply; the explosion of digital and soaring expectations of consumers and employees are driving change at an unprecedented rate. Those willing to adapt and innovate could find great opportunity in this disrupted market. For this to happen leaders must ask themselves some big questions – not just about what is right for their shareholders but what is right for their employees and the wider community.
In recent years retailers and big businesses have lost the trust of the public and many have been regarded as selfish. In the digital age, where reputation can be influenced more easily than ever before, some businesses may find huge work is required to restore trust.
Leaders can no longer rely on their job title alone to foster respect or support – it has to be earnt through actions and not words! Employee engagement has to be at the forefront of decision making, along with the expectation that future generations will look for a more open and transparent leadership style.
The economic and political landscape continues to change and challenge the world within which we operate but if leaders adapt and engage with a greater degree of social responsibility and self-awareness the likelihood of continued success will be much greater. Candidaly put, business results and social responsibility are becoming ever more interwoven.
We would like to thank all those who attended and of course Darren, for their contribution to an insightful and enjoyable evening.