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Editor's comment: Restructuring is a long game, not a quick win

Keely Stocker

It seems no sector is immune to the challenges facing the market right now, and this week brought redundancy announcements from fast fashion operators Missguided and Public Desire.

We have seen redundancies across the board over the last few months: Arcadia Group, Pentland Brands and Shop Direct are among those to have announced restructuring programmes.

Until now, the Manchester-based fast fashion etailers appeared to be riding out the tough trading conditions. Missguided’s latest results in December showed that turnover rose 75.6% to £205.8m in the 52 weeks to 26 March 2017, compared with the previous year. However, the retailer made an operating loss of £1.45m, and a total loss of £1.39m for the financial year after tax. The relocation of the warehouse and the opening of its two physical stores were held to account.

It has made a host of senior hires, including former Shop Direct executives Gareth Jones as CEO of online, Jonathan Wall as chief digital officer and Kenyatte Nelson as chief customer officer. Prominent leaders in the industry, these individuals will come at a cost but also bring a wealth of digital experience to take the business forward.

Retailers from all sectors are having to look at streamlining structures to survive

Having grown from an etail start-up in 2009 to the multichannel operation it is today no doubt means the structure needs to evolve. Different roles are needed for businesses of different sizes as they find their place in this competitive landscape.

The fast fashion sector also works on tight margins, so a dip in sales can quickly have an impact on the bottom line. The structure must therefore be built to be agile and move with the ever-changing times.

While obviously very sad for the individuals affected, retailers from all sectors are having to look at streamlining structures to survive. We are constantly seeing roles adapting and changing as consumer habits evolve, and this requires new talents to join the business.

However, there is a fine line between restructuring for future growth and cutting costs for short-term gains that could result in long-term damage to the business. Focus and a clear strategy to take the business forward is required, but you must bring your team along with you to do just that. Streamlining is vital to survive but do not let it come at the cost of your brand, your product and ultimately your customer.


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