Neil Saunders

Managing Director, GlobalData
Neil is Managing Director of GlobalData’s retail division. In this role he oversees the development of the company’s retail proposition and its research output. He also works with clients to help them understand the retail, shopper and market landscape – advising them on how best to develop, evolve and implement business strategies. Prior to GlobalData, Neil worked at retail research firm Verdict for ten years. He latterly held the post of board director with responsibility for Consulting, Corporate Development and Planning. Before Verdict, Neil worked for the John Lewis Partnership where he was involved, among other things, in the planning and relocation of new stores, the development of the ecommerce business, and the creation of technical and information systems. Before moving to the United States, Neil served as a non-executive board director for the Great Western Railway – a role he held for just under 11 years. He currently serves as an advisory board member for the faculty of business and law at the University of Southampton, as an Honorary Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, and as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey. For more information, visit:
  • Posted on: 12/13/2019

    Kroger still deciding whether to extend free grocery pickup

    Pickup is a rapidly growing part of the market. However, the issues with it remain the same for most digital grocery services: at worst it is unprofitable, at best it severely undermines margins. Kroger has tied a lot of its future to big scale fulfillment solutions, mostly for home delivery. There's nothing wrong with that, but if they're going to push pickup from stores they also need to invest heavily in micro-fulfillment and automation solutions to support stores.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2019

    Is there any limit to how many stores Dollar General can open?

    Dollar General stores are small and focus on essential purchases. This allows it to penetrate into low-density catchments and communities in a way that many other retailers cannot. Given the vastness of the U.S. hinterland, the company still has huge opportunities for expansion despite its already massive footprint. Given that its main rival Dollar Tree is currently on the back foot, the near term future looks bright for Dollar General.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Best Buy vs. Big Lots

    I go with Big Lots. It's fun and engaging and very Christmasy. The Best Buy advert is, at very best, mildly amusing the first time you see it. But it has no longevity: it will just get annoying on repeated airings.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2019

    Kroger and Walgreens are in a purchasing alliance and seeking more partners

    This will clearly help to produce some synergistic savings. But other than that, I don't find it at all that exciting and I don't think it is a solution to the main issues either company faces. Kroger stocking Walgreens Boots Alliance brands like No. 7 and Soap & Glory is no big deal. Target has stocked these for ages and is a popular destination. However, unlike Kroger, Target has put a major investment into its beauty proposition in stores. Walgreens also suffers from a complete lack of investment in its shops. It's why Ulta, Sephora, and Target have eaten into its beauty market share. And it is also why the chain is now scrabbling around to find ways of making its stores relevant. In short, both Walgreens and Kroger need to look at and improve their customer propositions. That is the root issue both companies face and it has been caused by complacency in the past.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2019

    Will Google take ‘going local’ to another level?

    This is important, particularly in the U.S. where local shops and services can be more scattered and hidden than they are in Europe where there is a greater degree of centralization in towns and village centers. Letting potential customers know you're there is the first step in winning the battle for shoppers and market share.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2019

    Will same-day delivery make for a merry Old Navy Christmas?

    Same-day delivery will not be unhelpful - but "slow delivery" is not the reason for Old Navy's current problems, so speeding things up is not the solution to poor growth. At the root of Old Navy's current woes is range: the last few seasons have had fewer store fashion edits and some of the traction the brand used to have with consumers has been lost. On top of this, a super-competitive environment and weak demand for outerwear have been unhelpful. In short, Old Navy needs to focus more on what it sells rather than how it sells it if it's to get back on the front foot.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2019

    One of the best Christmas commercials ever cost almost nothing to make

    This just goes to show the power of thinking and ideas is everything. The advert is thoughtful, well-executed and conveys a message that resonates with many people. However it also works because Haford Hardware is authentic: it's a well-run, family business that's focused on the needs of the local community. So the whole thing comes off as genuine. Could this work in the U.S.? Sure, independent retailers could use this approach and it may work well at a community level. However, the U.K is far more localized than the U.S. and that helps this kind of marketing cut through on a national scale. That's often much harder to accomplish across the expanse of the United States.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?

    Personally I think the response to the advert is a dramatic overreaction that reflects some people’s desire to be permanently offended. Many have automatically assumed that the "change me" statement relates to looks. But why should it? Maybe it was related to reaching goals or just feeling better by exercising more. As for criticism of the luxurious home: where should it be filmed? At a garbage disposal site? It’s a big fuss over nothing. There are bigger and way more important issues to deal with!
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Chipotle asks sick employees to call the nurse

    Given the disastrous implications of the various food scares at Chipotle, it makes sense to ensure employees are well and healthy enough to work in food preparation areas. It is good to see the company taking hygiene and food safety more seriously.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Will female-led pop-ups add pop to Macy’s Christmas?

    While this is very worthy, success will be determined by how compelling the offer is - not by the mere fact products come from female-led businesses. As with a lot of things Macy’s does, this is interesting but it won’t move the dial. Too much rot has set in at Macy’s and there isn’t nearly enough effort being exerted to overhaul the foundations of the business.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Canada Goose brings snow but no inventory to new concept store

    Canada Goose has a powerful brand that allows it to create these experiences. However, this concept is not suitable for all brands and retailers. Nor is it something that can be put in all locations: the cost is prohibitively high. However, in a diluted format, there are lessons that all retailers can learn. For most retailers in the mid-market and beyond, stores have to be more than places where transactions can be made. They are there to inspire and drive trade in other channels.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    How has the retail seasonal hiring playbook changed?

    One of the biggest challenges is finding enough people; unemployment is low and the pool of suitable candidates has been diminished. That's why retailers are pulling out all the stops to attract holiday workers. Of course, once they've got them - often at a higher cost - retailers want to maximize what they get from those employees, which means many more are now expected to multitask across front and backroom operations.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?

    The reluctance to join loyalty schemes is twofold: there are too many of them and signing up and managing them can be a hassle and, alongside that, the perceived benefits are not good enough to persuade consumers. The fact that so many retailers seem to use loyalty membership as an exercise to build an email list which they then spam is not helpful either!
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Why did’s fresh delivery service go stale in NYC?

    The service never really took off in NYC, partly because of issues with delivery, partly because of the cost, and partly because there is so much alternative choice. Grocery is a very tough category to get right in delivery and I suspect that the Jet service was never profitable, even if it did provide some valuable lessons for Walmart.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2019

    Private label foods need work

    This largely depends upon the retailer. Wegmans' private label foods are excellent; Publix and Costco also have very strong offers. Target is revamping its grocery offer and having had quite a few products from Good & Gather I have been impressed. Among some of the mainstream mid-tier grocers the offer is far more hit and miss. Kroger is great at some things like confectionery but is poor on readymade foods. Safeway, Alberstons, Hannaford, Shaw's and the like are pretty poor all around. I long for a retailer that makes readymade meals of the quality of Marks & Spencer, and for a retailer that puts as much effort into its private label food development as Waitrose. In fact, U.S. grocers could learn a lot from their U.K. counterparts which are great at private label.

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