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Retail leadership in crisis and failing to capitalise on future opportunities 

Three years ago, Green Park and the World Retail Congress published the critically-acclaimed DNA of Future Retail CEO. Senior Global retailers interviewed for the report said that most retail CEOs lacked the attributes and skills they needed to prosper – and that the gap would spread within their leadership teams over time.
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A survey of hundreds of Chairs, CEOs and senior executives from the retail sector across the world reveals – in their own words – leadership teams in crisis and ‘not fit for purpose’ in a rapidly changing business environment.

The report, released today at the World Retail Congress, reveals: Only 36 percent of respondents feel their company’s leadership team is moving fast enough to keep up with changing consumer behaviour; Just 27 percent believe their leadership team has the digital expertise necessary for success in the future; Just 26 percent feel their leadership team has the necessary expertise in data and analytics for success in future; 56 percent believe their leadership team is not diverse enough to properly reflect their customers and 75 percent believe that their leadership team is most comfortable managing their individual functional silos but struggles to manage end-to-end processes

Three years ago, Green Park and the World Retail Congress published the critically-acclaimed DNA of Future Retail CEO. Senior Global retailers interviewed for the report said that most retail CEOs lacked the attributes and skills they needed to prosper – and that the gap would spread within their leadership teams over time.

Today’s report, The DNA of Future Retail Leadership, compiled interviews with businesses of all shapes and sizes – large and small, traditional and pure play, across several sectors and around the world – in order to harness the widest possible range of insights.  Many of those questioned concur that these previous warnings were accurate and the sector is now suffering from a crisis in leadership.

Many top teams across the sector are criticised as “not fit for purpose” due to:

A failure of leadership and in particular an inability to adapt to the rapid changes to consumer behaviour brought about through technological change

A failure of culture, with a functional, siloed set-up within leadership teams which is clearly unsuited to providing a seamless experience for customers who want to engage across multiple channels and touch

A lack of diversity within the top team, leading to less insight and focus on customer demands from a younger and rapidly diversifying consumer demographic

A failure of skills with many retailers with a store-based legacy in particular struggling to implement transformational changes to make them more competitive against newer, pure-play companies with completely different attitudes to risk and innovation

Analysis for the report concludes there are three main areas where companies need to focus their strategies to create leadership teams with the skills, attributes and behaviours in order to survive, and thrive:  They are to create:

A hard-wired understanding of modern customer behaviour and mindset across all channels, with this insight linked directly to strategic decision making.

A leadership structure embracing blurred lines rather than silos, which runs all channels to market in an integrated manner to provide a seamless experience for customers.

A mindset in which all members of the leadership team regard digital as an integral part to each of their roles, using ongoing high quality data analysis to drive the company’s strategic vision.

Steve Baggi, Co-Founder of Green Park and Head of Retail said: “This report should act as a wake-up call for much of the retail sector.  As technological change increases in pace and consumers interact with brands in ever more innovative ways, it’s clear that in their own words, the leadership teams at many of our leading companies appear unable to adapt and as a result risk failure in the future.”

“However there is hope. Some companies, led by forward thinkers adept at using data and technology to harness insights about their customers are thriving. The rest of the sector can follow their lead, taking some of the strategies we lay out in the report to help ensure they too can prosper in tomorrow’s business environment.”

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