Several major brands have been using innovation and negotiation skills to strengthen their presence on UK high streets and retail parks. 

Hotel Chocolat is one of a number of companies that have recently announced expansion strategies. The company is supported by double-digit sales growth: in the financial year leading up to the 1st of July, the chocolate retailer’s revenue grew by 12% to £116 million, partly due to the opening of 15 new stores.

Announcements like these support the growing body of opinion that shopping centres and town centres are not dying but reinventing themselves and that recent closures and shrinking retail chains are not sector-wide. JD Sports, B&M, HMV and Waterstones are among the other ambitious big names carving new niches and stronger trading positions.

New in-store events

One of the initiatives increasingly employed is increasing the novelty of the in-store experience, encouraging shoppers to pay physical visits.

For example, HMV is growing the number of its in-store live appearances by music artists to attract more customers. The company is aiming these experiences at a wider demographic, booking acts such as Sir Cliff Richard as well as contemporary music stars.

Waterstones is also drawing in readers for a social experience, organising local history talks and signings by bestselling authors to attract community gatherings.

Play to the bargain hunters

Other retailers are bucking the trend and expanding, thanks to holding firm on proven growth strategies. B&M, for example, recently announced it would be opening up 45 new shops in the current financial year, to add to its existing network of 578 stores. The long-term aim is to have 950 outlets in the chain.

This is a company that has firmly resisted the trend of combining “clicks and bricks”. Instead, it concentrates on providing inexpensive household staples, toys, DIY items and seasonal goods.

Much like renowned discounters Aldi and Lidl, who are going from strength to strength, B&M is catering to consumers’ passion for bargain hunting and desire to be frugal.

Negotiating with suppliers

Meanwhile, JD Sports – which now has 385 branded stores, up from 332 in 2013 – is building success around another common consumer trend: the desire to have the latest gear. It works hard in its partnerships with global brands such as Adidas and Nike to make sure it can offer new lines ahead of the competition and in greater volume.

Being flexible, but focused

These recent announcements and developments by expanding physical retailers show that flexibility – combined with a clear business vision – can reap rewards.

To discuss your retail business model, and the executive recruitment programme you need to support business innovation and agility, call us at Anthony Gregg Partnership.