By Helen Brocklebank

We speak to Helen Brocklebank, Chief Executive of Walpole, the industry association for the British Luxury sector.

Retail is one of the sectors most affected by the global pandemic and many brands heavily rely on Christmas as the Number 1 consumption period. What is your advice for British retail brands during this time?


Firstly, leverage your digital and CRM systems that you have built up during the pandemic to give people an idea what they might like to buy before they come to the store. Secondly, make it as easy as possible for your customer to come to the store, because this is where the extra purchases happen, for example by extending your opening hours. Last but not least, ensure you retain the customer data from both your digital and bricks and mortar activity to keep your customer engagement levels high.


What would you recommend any new founders and entrepreneurs – are there still opportunities for the launch of new brands? 

Interestingly, new brands have been on fire during this whole episode and that is because they tend to launch digital first rather than bricks and mortar first. Plus, their cost base is low. Since consumers are spending more time online more than ever before, the opportunity to get real cut through is great. Therefore, if you have got an innovative, interesting, unique and beautiful product, and you’re investing in the right channels to communicate it to the customer, you’ve got a great opportunity.


How is Walpole supporting British brands during this time? 

It all comes down to the community. At Walpole, we’ve been focusing on bringing people together around the virtual table to help them resolve their business problems, for example through webinars with Walpole partners such as McKinsey and other interesting speakers. Another focus area for us is to provide relevant digital content to give our members new ideas on how to innovate out of the crisis. This is the most challenging environment that the British luxury sector has ever found itself in. The pandemic, the upcoming end of the Brexit transition period, as well as planned changes in legislation such as the abolition of tax-free shopping, are going to have an enormous impact on British brands. For that reason, Walpole is lobbying the government and campaigning tirelessly to make sure the regulatory framework is as good as it can be in context of all these challenges.

Find out more on https://www.thewalpole.co.uk.

Helen is wearing a suit is by luxury bespoke tailor and Home Grown ambassador, Kathryn Sargent. https://www.kathrynsargent.com

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