Retailers in the North West – “Blessed or cursed?!”

Published: 1 October 2013

“There’s no way I’d relocate to the North West!” a senior candidate told me during a recent search. As a born and bred Cheshire boy I am proud of my region, “Why?!” I heard myself ask (probably  too aggressively!) “It’s a death zone for retailers” he confidently replied; and to some extent he has a point. The recession has seen a range of casualties in the retail world and the North West has had its fair share. Sadly no longer with us are TJ Hughes, JJB, Ethel Austin, HomeForm Group, Winecellar and Focus. All big employers and in their day profitable organisations.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get going….. and oh boy, the North West has some success stories to shout about! The region is home to some of the fastest growing retailers in the UK such as Pets at Home, TJ Morris (Home Bargains), B&M Bargains, Iceland, JD Sports and N.Brown. All of whom have performed magnificently in challenging economic times, and through their continued growth remain significant employers for the region offering exciting careers in this fast paced sector. 

So, is the region “cursed” for retailers? We have seen our fair share of ‘big names’ disappear, but retail is a continually changing world and this has always been the case. The businesses that are no longer with us have gone for a variety of reasons, not least because they were failing to give the customer what they wanted. The retailers who are prospering are led by strong management teams, with clear strategies and a firm understanding of their customers.

Now I may well be biased, but I believe the North West has some of the finest retailers operating in the UK, and is a truly “blessed” part of the country to work (and live) in!

Paul Williams is a Consultant in the Retail Practice at Berwick Partners - view Paul's profile here

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