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Drapers Next Generation: Customer is master of the universe, says Sir Stuart Rose

The customer has moved from being “king” to “master of the universe” when it comes to retailing, according to Sir Stuart Rose.

In a lively discussion at today’s Drapers Next Generation event the former M&S boss said the new multichannel environment would not see the demise of physical stores - but it had given customers even more ability to call the shots.

“Shops are not going to go anywhere, it’s just what people want when they are there that will change,” he said. “If you’re not click enabled you’re a loser. You have to provide an online offering. Shops will also need to change the way they look and have the technology in them to provide the full collection and customer experience - it’s still about service, service, service.

“Remember the customer was king, now he is master of the universe.”

Rose offered one piece of advice to those starting out in retail - not to plan their career.

He said “Do your job well, make a difference and work hard and you will get noticed. It’s important to do the job you’re doing well and not to over-plan your career.”

Rose, who now works with several businesses including Fat Face, Ocado and Dressipi, claimed he “blagged” his way into his first job at M&S at the age of 23 where he was earning £1,200 a year – “and that was good money back then,” he said.

He acknowledged he had faced challenges and conflict during his career, but assured the audience “If you believe in what you believe in, you’ve got to be prepared to stand by it.”


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