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Let’s talk tactics for the second half

So the whistle has blown on the first half of the year and it is time for a rub down to prepare for the second half of what has so far been a tough match.

The opposition in the shape of global factors such as the sub-prime lending crisis, decreasing monetary liquidity, fuel and energy prices has sapped the morale of retailers. For some their playing days are over, while many top-class players have suffered injuries significantly affecting their value and lesser players have also taken knocks. As we sit in the dressing room, how can the manager motivate us?

First, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. There is no room for players who are not totally committed. They need to be agile and fit. Focus for a moment not on what extra commitments you might take on, but rather on what you could possibly stop doing, particularly if the return is marginal at best. Are you spending enough time connecting with your past, present and prospective customers? Is your customer database up to scratch? Are you maximising its use?

Retailing, particularly for the small indie, is too often a lonely business rather than a team effort. How can you involve your suppliers, wholesalers and other retailers in your town or village? You all face the same issues and you all want to be more profitable, but how often do you talk to each other? Why not put on a local fashion show and share the promotional costs? Be different from the herd in what you stock or how you dress your windows.

With these thoughts in mind you can run out onto the pitch with new energy and the determination to score an early goal.

John Dean is chief executive of the British Shops and Stores Association

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