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: 12/05/2022

    Are ads causing shoppers to lose faith in Amazon search results?

    It does sometimes feel like you are on an advertising site and not a marketplace. There is nothing more annoying than being "caught out" by an advertisement rather than a genuine search result. But that is a large part of Amazon's revenue and helps them keep prices so competitive. So what do consumers want, higher prices or advertisements?
  • Posted on: 12/02/2022

    Retailers find inflation is often about location, location, location

    A number of retailers have stock from previous years that they are clearing over the holiday period. While they have had to fund the inventory for an extended period and the cost of storage they have also benefited from inflation as the price for that inventory is now considerably higher than last year. Passing this benefit on to consumers is a great way to help your loyal customers and keep their patronage. Consumers are very conscious of retailers and their pricing at this time and will respect and be loyal to retailers who offer good value. Having good quality own label products that are generally cheaper than major brands is also valuable to customers and certainly builds brand loyalty. The key here is "good quality." If you try to sell cheap items that do not represent value that will backfire.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2022

    Walgreens rolls out 24/7 delivery and parents with sick kids do the happy dance

    I cannot see this as being a huge earner for Walgreens so it has to be a customer service offering that should be well received by consumers, particularly those with young children or who need medicine overnight. Will Walgreens continue the initiative after the trial? That will be interesting. My guess is this is too expensive a PR strategy to make it long term.
  • Posted on: 11/30/2022

    Was the high-traffic Thanksgiving weekend a promise of things to come?

    The retail companies that we work with also found a very positive long weekend both in U.S. and Europe with good increases over not just last year but 2019 as well. Whether this will continue over the whole holiday period is another matter. It is unlikely that consumers have the increase in household budget to do so and it could be that discretionary spend will now move to holiday food shopping if they have done their gift shopping early. We must remember that much of the merchandise being sold at high discount is old stock from previous years and hence retailers are clearing inventory. This is not a bad thing if it is selling well as there was concern over if it would sell. When times are tough consumers often splash out at Christmas to make themselves feel better. Let's hope it continues, but caution: we may have to pay for it in the new year as credit limits are stretched and people really have to tighten their belts.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2022

    Will travel keep retail’s 2022 holiday from taking off?

    Let's be honest, it is not going to be an easy and great holiday trading season for most retailers. All economic indicators show that people are having to tighten their belts and there is a lot of concern and worry. But Christmas often sees people splurge when they are feeling uncertain and worried. At the very least many retailers will clear the stocks they had from last Christmas. While we all worry about it being old stock the consumer is not close enough to really see that. Travel is probably the least of our worries, it just adds another dimension to the problems we are already facing.
  • Posted on: 10/26/2022

    Are backorders costing retailers sales and profits?

    Very few retailers are in a strong enough position to be able to maintain customer loyalty when they have out-of-stocks and rely on backorders. Only where the offering is truly unique can they get away with this. This is a problem for fashion and specialty retailers. Inventory visibility is one thing but having the right inventory to achieve a high service level is what is really needed. Fashion retailers still look at inventory management as an art not a science and prefer to use Excel rather than good inventory management solutions that can help them manage their supply chain optimization. Times have changed, there is way too much competition and choice of outlet -- either other stores or online -- to continue to run in this way. Backorders are the result of poor inventory management and not the problem in itself.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2022

    Christmas 2022’s inventory looks a lot like 2021

    While it is old stock to the retailer it is new stock to the customer. A good opportunity for retailers to clear that inventory, if sales are a little off they should still clear what they are holding. I have always found in tough economic times consumers reduce spending on gifts and spend more on food for Christmas as an escape from reality.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2022

    How can grocers prevail in inflationary times without winning on price?

    During inflationary times price obviously becomes the prime driver for consumers, however it is price perception that is important rather than actual price as few consumers actually know all the prices in comparative stores. In the last 12 months Aldi in the UK raised prices by more than their leading competitors, but if you ask consumers Aldi are still their most price conscious shop. Tesco are competing with this by providing loyalty card customers lower prices than everyone else, building loyalty as well as price perception. Iceland Foods are offering buy now pay later schemes to show they care about and want to help their customers. Another retailer uses point of sale cards very successfully to highlight prices even when they are not on promotion. Perception is what matters, not necessarily reality.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2022

    Was Amazon’s Prime Early Access sale a bellwether event for the retail industry?

    This may be just too early to get people shopping for the holiday, there is still a lot of uncertainty and people are worried about the cost of living. They may also be taking the view that there will be lots more "sale" opportunities to come which may offer better value. This is going to be a very tough year for retailers to make profit and show they are keeping down prices for their customers, promotional activity is going to be fierce and customers know there will be other opportunities.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2022

    Are pop-ups ready to become a permanent fixture in retail?

    Pop-ups offer an opportunity for start-up retailers, they also provide a more exciting environment where there is constant change. However they are not the core of retail, they are fringe operations that will come and go according the situation and season at the time. With staff acquisition and retention an increasing problem pop-ups do not help the situation and they may find it hard to attract staff for short-term contracts.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2022

    Walmart is looking to bring apparel manufacturing back to the USA

    It is a great move to bring jobs and manufacturing back home, it feeds the economy and loyalty to your brand. The only issue is going to be if labor shortages create high wage inflation and a shortage of workers. Here in the UK unemployment is at its lowest for over 50 years and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find staff. The hospitality industry is already under huge pressure to find staff and more investment in manufacturing here would only exacerbate that problem.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2022

    Why is the turnover rate so high for technology leaders?

    The role of the CIO has changed over the last few years with less emphasis on deep technology understanding and more on how technology can be implemented and productive within the retailer. There is a huge amount of change in technology and the old school "build everything in-house" mentality which required a pure technology leader has largely ended. The new breed need to be more business savvy and understand the business they are serving. Those people are much more transitory than the old school CTO because they are more marketable.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2022

    Will Deliveroo’s new, not-so-dark store change how ultra-fast delivery is done?

    Does this not make the Deliveroo Hop just another store? If I have to go to the Hop, place an order and wait for my goods I may as well go to a shop where at least I can choose the products for myself. I do not see this as a major way forward. If dark store development in residential areas is also restricted this will not get off the ground.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2022

    Do Nike’s inventory woes foretell a bleak holiday season for apparel?

    Once again we see the cost of poor inventory management. Yes we have been through a tough time with many swings but with modern forecasting and supply chain management retailers and brands must be able to do better than this. The cost of holding stock with higher interest rates is expensive, price reductions to clear stock hits margin hard so the impact of poor inventory management really is poor results. Fashion brands need to keep clean inventories to be able to present the next season's merchandise at the right time so getting ordering and timing wrong is even more expensive. Today with good supply chain solutions this should not happen, even in these tough times.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2022

    Will most Americans spend Black Friday shopping on their phones?

    What is noticeable from all this research is that customer experience and price are way more important than speed of delivery, so why have so many retailers pushed speed of delivery as their main marketing message and at what cost to the supply chain? The big difference between last year and this is that availability is less of an issue, so shoppers can focus on other priorities and given inflation rates, price is one of the most important this holiday season.

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