PROFILE

Andrew Blatherwick

Chairman Emeritus, Relex Solutions
Andrew Blatherwick joined leading UK and International retailer Boots in 1977 rising to become Group Product Manager Foods before moving on to frozen foods retailer Iceland where he spent ten years, the last five years as Supply Chain Director. He joined inventory management systems company E3 Corporation as International President in 1995 and drove the business forward so that at the time of its acquisition in 2001 it had more than 500 retail and wholesale customers in 20 different countries. Andrew served as President of JDA International before joining Manchester-based Alphameric Retail as Managing Director where he helped reverse the business’s decline. He’s since brought his business development expertise to CoreProcess International (as Group CEO), Argility (as Executive Director – International Business Development), Manthan Systems (as President of Manthan Systems Europe) and is currently CEO at business consultancy A2B4P. He advises a select stable of companies in a non executive capacity focusing on business development and change management.
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  • Posted on: 08/09/2022

    Should marketing have more control over pricing?

    You have to look at this from both sides. Are marketeers responsible for the profitability of the company? Are they responsible for the profitability of each buying category? The answer to both of these questions is almost always no, so to give them freedom on all pricing would not make sense. In my experience of working in retailers for over 20 years, the Board set the targets and strategy and that includes the profit targets and pricing strategy, these things are not done in isolation nor should they be. Marketing have a responsibility to project the company in the right way and if they see pricing is becoming an issue then they will discuss it at the Board level and the Board will decide if they need to make adjustments. Look what happened when marketing took control of delivery times -- cost rocketed and it became a bidding war to the bottom. We don't want that again!
  • Posted on: 08/04/2022

    Are grocers profiteering from inflation?

    Retailers have been helped by a number of high profile manufacturers publicly talking about increasing their prices. However no retailer wants to be seen to be leading and driving up prices. Inflation happens on the sell side as well as the cost side and provided that a balance is struck and operational efficiency improved retailers can gain customer support by showing lower levels of price increases. Announcing huge profit increases like the energy companies is not good politics for retailers.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2022

    The Nordstrom tire return story is true

    Storytelling is important in all business not just retail, especially when it shows the sort of behavior that you want to instill in the company culture. High levels of customer service are also important for all business so when these two come together it is very positive. I am not sure every retailer would want to follow the tire story and replace anything that is returned but it is a great story for setting the culture.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2022

    Dynamic pricing may be ‘stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey’

    Dynamic pricing is well understood and accepted in the airline industry but retailers, particularly those with a brand value, need to be very careful as they would soon discredit their brand if they are seen to be profiteering through the use of dynamic pricing. If items have a price then the consumer will decide if it is reasonable or not. If it varies wildly they are likely to lose trust -- and trust is all important.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2022

    Should ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates be reimagined to reduce waste?

    These initiatives are invaluable in reducing the massive amount of food that is sent to landfill and wasted when the produce is still perfectly acceptable to eat. Why do we underestimate consumers by assuming that they need a date on the packaging to be able to judge if it is edible or not? So many consumers religiously follow the date on the packaging without using their own judgment. The economy and the environment cannot afford to continue with the high levels of waste currently experienced around the world. Trust people to make their own judgments.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Grocers and food brands take older consumers for granted

    There is a theory that if you catch a customer when young they will stay with you for a lifetime, as long as you look after them. This being the case, grocers and brands may see an investment in younger customers as a better long-term investment. But in the short term, they are missing a huge part of the market who have high spending power.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Grocers and food brands take older consumers for granted

    The Grey Dollar is undoubtedly worth targeting for all the reasons stated, they also have more time to shop, study what is on offer, pay attention to the campaigns run and shop in-store more than younger generations. Any retailer that ignores this group is missing a major part of the market and potential revenue.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Will Target’s ‘stores-as-hubs’ strategy get turbocharged by sortation centers?

    If Target is creating sortation centers, why not move to a full dark store picking and delivery unit? It seems they are double handling inventory to move to stores and then to sortation stations. There would be an additional inventory cost, but that is likely to be lower than the shipment between stores and sortation sites.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2022

    Are Millennials the reason that inflation is so high?

    We can blame the Millennials for a lot but I do not see that given all the external factors at play they can be responsible for the very high inflation right now. The argument is sound that as the Boomers caused inflation the Millennials will have an impact, but let's not lay the blame for the current situation at their door!
  • Posted on: 07/20/2022

    Will more Americans make e-grocery delivery a weekly habit?

    It is true that e-grocery has established and maintained a higher level of use than pre-pandemic, but it is still significantly lower than for other sectors. It will come under greater pressure as inflation bites and people review paying distribution charges. The e-grocers also need to up their game if they are going to get to significantly higher percentages as poor availability and high level of substitutes, some of which are unacceptable, need to be resolved. The question of the environment must also come into play at some point, the costs of burning fuel both economically and environmentally may become unacceptable.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2022

    Is luxury retail’s sweet spot?

    There is a pent up demand from the COVID-19 period of not being able to travel, eat out and socialize. Add this to the fact that higher income consumers are less impacted by inflation and price increases and you have a strong demand for luxury items. Most people cannot take more holidays, particularly if they are still working so that wealth that has not been spent in the last couple of years is available for consumption of luxury items. While lower earners are struggling more they will want a treat to escape the current situation, this may not be high volume but adds to the rest. In essentials like food people will trade down, in other goods they tend to trade up as a treat.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2022

    Is Amazon taking its foot off the Prime Day marketing pedal?

    Inflation is biting in all sectors, people have significantly less disposable income and the high level of uncertainty about the future just adds to that pressure. Amazon cannot expect that they will be immune from those pressures even on Prime Day. Other retailers have also reacted to Prime Day so the novelty is not there hence less impact. Amazon are being smart not putting so much into Prime Day, it will still be a big event for them but they are aware they need to keep it fresh.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2022

    Are outsized private label gains in grocery a foregone conclusion?

    Store brands do well in hard times and the longer those hard times go on the stronger the retailer brands become as people try them and then get into the habit of buying them. There is an age profile difference as older people who have built up a trust with their regular grocery retailer are more likely to try and then stay with their own brands, younger generations who buy more online do not build that trust in the same way. However as the economy bites and they do trade down they are likely to continue buying own label provided that they deliver quality and value. It is the retailers who need to make sure they set the bar high and deliver high quality great value on their own label products as that is the best way they can gain and build loyal customers.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2022

    Kroger CEO says customers are ‘rethinking their shopping’ habits

    It is a great opportunity for retailers to build own brand share of sales. I hope more frequent visits results in less wasted foods. Waste is the biggest enemy as it is a waste of precious food, supply chain resources and money.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2022

    Ultra-fast delivery may burn out or fade away

    It is not surprising that these companies are finding it hard to keep up the momentum they built during the pandemic, it is also not surprising that some of them will go to the wall as the market matures. There will be a place for this type of service, the good ones will fine tune their operations and improve which will make them more attractive to consumers. Will they be mass market? Probably not, but if they take a few percent of the massive grocery market that can sustain a few big businesses. They are now investing in inventory management and supply chain solutions to improve availability. The ones who do will be better placed than the ones who don't.

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