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News | Published February 12 2019

BRC chief tells Parliamentary Review about the changing nature of retail

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, believes the retail sector is currently experiencing a "reset moment".

Writing in The Parliamentary Review, she said that British retail was at a pivotal point caused by a "perfect storm that is driving real structural change across the industry".

Dickinson said that this turbulence had come about as the result of "rising costs and softening demand" for the retail sector.

One of the first real signs that such a storm was brewing came in August 2018, when the BRC published data showing a 0.1 per cent increase in shop prices – bucking a previous 63-month trend where prices fell.

She continued: "Change is happening quickly and happening now. Some say we are only at the beginning."

Perhaps the biggest change UK retail faces is Brexit; at the end of January, several supermarket bosses, including chief executives at Asda, Waitrose and Sainsburys, wrote to the government warning that leaving the European Union without a deal in place could possibly lead to food shortages.

Dickinson spoke about this topic, too, stating that the BRC had "highlighted the challenges for retailers" and that it felt "promoting the interests of consumers... will lead to the fairest settlement for our country as a whole".

Nonetheless, she remained positive: "I passionately believe retail has a bright future and that this period is about 'reinvention retail', not 'armageddon retail'.

"As always, the BRC is here to help make a positive difference – working to help retailers get fit for the future."

You can read the BRC's foreword here, and it will also be released in the upcoming Business Services edition of the Parliamentary Review later this month.

Authored by

Ross Hindle
Senior Editor
@theparlreview
February 12 2019

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