Recession isn't a disaster it is a massive opportunity to innovate, improve and boost market share said retailers speaking at this year's ICSC European Conference.
Apparel retailers Desigual, Mango, Aftershock, Sacoor and Sacha, perfumer Rituals and techonogy entertainment retailer GAME all reported sales increases to the conference thanks to their strong investment in creative marketing and great service with design.
Whilst none of the retailers denied that the recession was creating serious trading conditions, all those speaking to more than 650 high-level delegates attending the ICSC European Conference were convinced that innovation was the key to survival and growth.
Desigual reported a revenue increase of 34% in the last seven years, achieved by a clear and focussed growth strategy. The Spanish company has grown from 40 to 1,500 employees in the last six years and is now a successful and exciting multi-channel retailer selling wholesale to over 3,500 retail outlets, with 100 Desigual stand-alone shops and 250 store concessions.
Manel Adell, Chief Executive Officer of Desigual, said: "We know we have challenges ahead so we must keep our staff performing well, keep the product experience great and keep a strong company culture. That's what makes us different and that's what will help us grow."
Clothing and accessory retailer Aftershock was making its first public presentation in 20 years at the ICSC conference in Barcelona. They now have 72 retail stores, 14 boutique concessions, web sales, eight showrooms worldwide and have just opened a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in India.
GAME, a FTSE250 plc and the biggest game retailer in the European Union reported that full year profits have grown 70%. The company is adding forty stores to its portfolio each year. Mark Axon, Director of Group Planning and Business Development at GAME Stores Group, told the conference that the games market in the European Union is larger than the United States market.
Aniko Kostyal, Expansion Director at Mango, who was speaking at the ICSC Conference for the second time, said that whilst companies must not ignore global economic downturn, Mango is still expanding at the rate of one shopping center every two days.
"We are looking for help from the developers to reduce costs," she said. "We are supporting our franchisees by negotiating shop rents on their behalf. This rate of growth will obviously slow down this over the next year or so but will still expand. Our aim is to have a Mango presence in almost every country across the globe."
Whilst shares in corrugated iron companies might be rising in the short term, as struggling retailers close and shops are boarded up, Desigual's Manel Adell urged retailers to continue investment in their staff and service.
This was supported by retiring ICSC European Chair, Jaap Gillis, who directly challenged directors across the retail real estate industry to invest in their young managers. He said: "They may be reducing staff, but it is dangerous not to develop young people during a recession."
Manel Adell quoted an old Chinese proverb: "If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain, if you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees, if you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people."
Source: Nicky Godding