Westfield Retail Study Tour diary: London & Paris

JohnLewisParticipants on the 19th Westfield World Retail Study Tour returned to Australia last weekend after taking in London and Paris over the second week of the tour.

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First stop in London on a crisp morning was Borough Markets, the oldest food markets in the world. The venue was packed as customers jostled for their share of some of the finest fresh produce the UK has to offer.

In London, tour participants stayed in the Café Royal hotel, situated in the heart of London’s bustling Regent Street and Oxford Street retail precincts, where there was plenty of high-end retail to absorb.

Day two in the UK involved a bus trip over to Birmingham, now considered the second city in the UK, and a tour of the lavish new Harvey Nichols flagship and the four-level John Lewis store, as well as the nearby Bullring Mall. In John Lewis, participants were given insights into the ‘partnership’ structure John Lewis, the retailer, has with all of its employees, while also learning how John Lewis has achieved 40 per cent of its annual sales through its e-commerce channel.

In London, 2016 Westfield World Retail Study Tour participants enjoyed presentations by, amongst others, global retail advisor and former ACRS director, Alan Treadgold; Practicology founder, Martin Newman; former David Jones’ boss and newly appointed Kikki.K CEO, Iain Nairn; and Harrods managing director, Michael Ward.

Some of the most salient points taken from these presentations included:

  •   Treadgold discussing how retailers can win in the current era of the actively engaged shopper, the need to be prepared to be radical, and how, “playing it safe may very well prove to be the riskiest play of all”.
  •   Newman noting that the chief customer officers of today will be the CEOs of tomorrow; why retailers need a leadership team that looks beyond cost; and the need to find ways of failing fast because, “if you need to be 100 per cent sure, you will be 100 per cent late” on implementing innovation.

IMG_3595Other highlights of the London leg of the tour included:

  •   A visit to the UK’s largest mall, Westfield London, which is being positioned as the new global standard for shopping centres and boasts broad, opulent double-storey shopfronts, an annual footfall of 27.5 million, a high-end luxury shopping precinct, and tenants including, amongst others, Debenhams, Waitrose, House of Fraser, Zara, and an Apple store that runs on 100 per cent renewable energy.
  •   An in-depth tour of Burberry’s opulent flagship at 121 Regent Street.
  •   An afternoon in Harrods, arguably the world’s most famous luxury department store, which now boasts annual sales of 1.5 billion Pounds.

Catching the Eurostar from London to Paris, the tour heard presentations from Ladurée, a French luxury bakehouse and retailer of arguably producer of the best macarons in the world; Soline D’Aboville, an expert in the burgeoning window display artform of scenography; and a presentation and tour of Les Halles Centre, a new redevelopment that is giving a public space back to the people of Paris via an elaborate retail and transportation hub.

While in Paris, the tour also visited the incredible Foundation Louis Vuitton, a grand, new Frank Gehry-designed Paris monument, and enjoyed a walking tour the luxury Champs-Élysées retail strip. And a final highlight in Paris was a tour of luxury department store, Galeries Lafayette, which rivals London’s Harrods in scope, sales and opulence and is arguably the leading department store in Europe.

Stay tuned for the August 2016 issue of Inside Retail Magazine, which will feature a full, in-depth wrap-up of the 2016 Westfield World Retail Study Tour.

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