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Editor's Comment: In 2018 only the fittest will survive

It hasn’t been a happy start to 2018 for some retailers, but there are still many reasons to celebrate. 

After a surprisingly positive early Christmas trading update from Next last week, both Debenhams and Mothercare were forced to issue profit warnings (news, p4). Better results from lifestyle retailers Joules and Fat Face brought some much-needed cheer at the beginning of this week, but a mixed bag was expected from the updates due out on Wednesday and Thursday, after Drapers went to press.

On p13, industry leaders outline the challenges they think fashion retail will face in 2018, including a more demanding consumer and the uncertainty of Brexit. There are also new regulations to comply with, including gender pay gap reporting (news, p7) and the General Data Protection Regulation. The pressure is on and only the fittest will survive.

But survive they will. This industry has been through tough times before and those that know their business, their customer and their product will prevail. The industry predictions also highlight the opportunities to stay ahead of the competition – for example, by reassessing the role of bricks-and-mortar stores.

This time last year, many CEOs acknowledged that 2017 would be tough, but they also pointed out that the blossoming relationship between technology and retail would allow them to offer customer experiences that were not possible historically. This came to fruition in 2017, as artificial intelligence and visual search became part of the mainstream.

The possibilities in 2018 are even greater, which will be reassuring news for those in the early stages of their fashion retail careers.

This week we take pride in celebrating the 2018 Drapers 30 Under 30. Now in its ninth year, this list highlights and celebrates the next generation of fashion leaders in the full spectrum of disciplines. Once again, we were inundated with impressive examples of how talented younger people are influencing their businesses.

As part of our accompanying special report on promoting the next generation of talent, we look at why flexible working is becoming essential for many, and hear from Jack Wills co-founder Peter Williams about the primacy of attitude over aptitude. Read more on p30.

There is no doubt 2018 will bring its challenges but, as the saying goes, with challenge comes opportunity. Those who take this view will come out stronger on the other side.

Readers' comments (1)

  • If the only the fittest will survive, then they won't be many left. In physical terms the clothing trade is like Johnny Vegas, but without the jokes.

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