What skills do retail leaders need today?
A good retail leader must be able to develop a strong, effective strategy to steer through the potentially murky waters ahead, keep shareholders happy and inspire their teams, even amid an atmosphere of doom and gloom. Today’s retail chief executives are having to make tough decisions and do more with considerably less, as budgets shrink and costs are cut.
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at professional services firm KPMG, warns that the retail sector is facing a lack of good leadership: “Many leaders are struggling to adapt to new business models and don’t know how to navigate the retail industry of the future.
“Of course, there are those out there doing a great job, but there is also a proportion now trying to fix problems that they helped to create.”
As the retail industry changes, so too does the make-up of retail bosses. Fashion has already flirted with making senior hires from outside the industry: Marks & Spencer recruited former Halfords CEO Jill McDonald as managing director for clothing, home and beauty, and House of Fraser chief executive Alex Williamson came from the Goodwood leisure attraction. The skills and leadership qualities once associated with the technology industry are also becoming increasingly relevant to retail.