Former Very Exclusive managing director Sarah Curran-Usher has revealed details of her new retail advisory network, which will launch in January and offer access to expertise in areas such as digital marketing and ecommerce.
Curran-Usher joined Retail Executives, a specialist fashion and retail recruitment firm, as a partner in September, tasked with heading up the new advisory division.
Called the Retail Executives Advisory Network (REAN), the by-invitation-only platform will target small- to medium-sized businesses.
Advice will be provided either on a pay-as-you-go basis via phone or in person – at an hourly rate of between £200 and £400 – or retailers will be able to hire experts for longer term projects.
More than 100 advisors are already signed up, the majority at C-suite and director level. Non-executive directors will join the roster in January.
“The aim is to be affordable and not to position ourselves in the top consultancy banding,” Curran-Usher told Drapers.
“The top-tier consultants rule out a lot of businesses who, due to unprecedented times, are at a point where cash flow isn’t great. My thinking was to have a platform where small to medium businesses could talk to executive talent who have a long track history of transformation and strategy.”
Richard Hollister, owner of Retail Executives, stressed the need for accessible consultancy at a time of uncertainty: “The retail and fashion industries can be some of the hardest and most volatile arenas to work in, and this type of accessible consultancy and advice is something that the UK needs now more than ever.
“The explosion of investment in the retail sector increases the need for experts in the field, who understand the intricacies and nuance of the marketplace.
“It is ideal for retail businesses of all sizes, global businesses looking for expansion opportunities, banks and private equity and venture capital investment offices.”
The platform will launch in the UK, but there are plans to expand internationally in the future.
A former sub-editor at The Times, Curran-Usher founded premium etailer My-Wardrobe.com in 2006, and helped to launch Shop Direct’s luxury fashion site Very Exclusive in 2014.
She is non executive director of French Connection and non executive chairman of luxury boutique brand Richards Radcliffe.
Former LK Bennett and BHS chief executive Darren Topp joined Retail Executives as chairman in August.