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How AllSaints is building productivity into its strategy

AllSaints is improving its productivity by focusing on four key areas: how it designs and creates, buys and makes, manages stock, and sells, says trading director Nicole Smith.

Speaking to delegates at Drapers Fashion Forum 2018 in London, Smith said the British retailer is committed to improving productivity end-to-end across the business.

“Productivity affects so many parts of the business. For us it helps us achieve more sales and profit with lower cost and effort. We are focusing on the biggest opportunities, which give the highest returns.”

For future growth, AllSaints is focusing on experiential retail, digital and international development and streamlining core operations by leveraging digital assets.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of challenge on the high street,” said Smith. “Declining footfall, increasing rent and rates, higher customer expectations, increase in discounting, more competition, economic uncertainty and Brexit. Despite all these things, we need to find ways to grow the business.”

Smith said digital is the “biggest engine of growth” for the business, but emphasised that stores are still an important part of the AllSaints brand, as they allow shoppers to see and feel the product.

AllSaints is also expanding its business through wholesale, franchising and launching licensing for the first time this autumn.

“We’re expanding how we reach customers. We’re not as developed as many of our fellow retailers in some areas, but we’re trying to catch up,” said Smith.

“We’re very new to licensing, but we’re excited about how it can grow the brand. We’re launching a fragrance for the first time in November, and we’re working with other licence partners for future opportunities next year.”

In terms of stock management, AllSaints has reduced its number of suppliers from 400 to 40 in the last few years resulting in stronger partnerships, improved margins and faster speed to market for the business, Smith explains.

It has also reduced its number of product options to improve availability and has introduced fulfilment from store: “We are exploiting ways of making stock available to customers wherever they are, by fulfilling from [both] distribution centres and stores. It maximises the sell-through by making stock available.”

Smith said productivity needs to be part of a company’s culture: “Productivity can’t be reinvented all the time. We need habits in organisations, and focus to minimise distractions. You need to galvanise your organisation to make sure everyone is focused on the same thing – it needs to be embedded in the culture.”

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