The face of the retail landscape has changed forever, according to Aurora Fashions chairman Derek Lovelock.
Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual conference last week, Lovelock said shoppers’ purchasing habits had altered irreversibly with the advent of the internet and as consumers re-evaluated their purchasing decisions post the recession.
Lovelock said: “She [the consumer] will have less disposable income, she will buy less. If she is buying less, she will be wearing something more exclusive and she will be buying [exclusive items] more often. We believe this shift in consumer buying will happen.”
Lovelock welcomed the shift in consumer behaviour, which he said signalled the end of the flight to value and the throwaway culture that was prevalent prior to the recession. He said: “Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so.”
Lovelock added that Aurora, which consists of womenswear chains Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen and Coast, was also addressing a shift towards the desire to “buy now, wear now” spearheaded by the internet, fashion glossies and big-brand films such as Sex and the City 2.
“Today she is shopping in a totally different way and the web is the enabler which is allowing her to do it,” he added. “Gone are the days when the shopper bought product only when the new season’s ranges arrived in stores,” Lovelock said. “She wants something new and she wants it when she wants it.” He added that this presented a huge challenge for the supply chain.
“The competitive map is harder than ever,” he said. “We have to compete on space, the web is a challenge, we are facing [increasing] pricing pressure but we also have to contend with how she is shopping. She wants edited choice, availability when she wants it and exclusivity.”
Aurora said it was addressing the challenge of having many distribution channels in each of its chains - such as standalone stores, department stores, online, partners and affiliates - by working with BT Expedite to create an integrated store and online system.
Last month, Aurora announced it had hired former Asos marketing and operations director Hash Ladha to the newly created role of group multichannel director. He started on June 1.
Review at Peacocks
Peacocks Group chief executive Richard Kirk confirmed to the British Retail Consortium’s annual conference last week that the value retailer had begun a strategic review which could lead to a £600m sale.
Kirk said the business’s shareholders, US hedge funds Och-Ziff and Perry Capital, which have a 25% stake, and Goldman Sachs’ private equity division, which has a 10% holding, were considering a sale.
Kirk, who owns 30%, said he would stay at Peacocks Group, which comprises the eponymous retailer and the Bonmarché chain, to lead its overseas push.