Latest news and commentary from the Boxwood team.
We recently attended Retail Week Live where Partner, Matt Clark, spoke on a panel discussing the future of AI. You can read the Retail Week Live summary of Matt’s presentation now.
Our thought leadership paper: ‘Robocalypse Now? What the next industrial revolution means for retail,’ is now available to read. We already live in challenging times and as retail leaders we deal with changing shopping habits, channel shifts, economic and political uncertainty and disruptive new competitors on a daily basis. The next wave of disruption is firmly upon us - intelligence and advanced robotics will transform the retail model as it will many other industries.
In this paper we provide context what is happening in other industries, debunk some myths and draw conclusions about what the technology can and can’t do. Overall we aim to bring some clarity to the practical application of both physical and cognitive automation in the Retail model.
We’re proud to announce that former KPMG Boxwood Insight Director, Paul Martin, has been appointed UK Head of Retail UK at KPMG. Paul joined KPMG Boxwood in 2013 as a Managing Director for Boxwood Insights.
Paul has worked in the retail sector for close to 20 years and is well known to many of the industry’s leading players. Having worked extensively overseas, he brings a true understanding of international retailing and consumer behaviours to the role.
View the full press release here
KPMG Boxwood Partner, Chris Wakerley, discusses his experiences of business in an interview with Dr Steve Priddy, Head of Research at London School of Business and Finance (LSBF).
LSBF Great Minds Series aims to provide their students with insight through a collection of video interviews with leading business and political leaders promoting debate on education, employability, entrepreneurship and the economy.
KPMG Boxwood Insights Director, Paul Martin comments in an article that explores how the creation of new flagship stores in Oxford Street will affect one of the world’s top shopping destinations.
KPMG Boxwood Insights Director, Paul Martin wrote an article for the BRC publication, The Retailer: ‘Delivering Growth - the international option.’
The Why, Where and How of internationalisation.
Growth. It’s the holy grail of any retail business, and especially hard to come by in the current market. But to grow you have to be better than the rest of the pack, and stealing market share from your UK competitors can be complex and hard won. So what’s the answer? Read more ...
KPMG Boxwood Insights Director Paul Martin wrote an article on grocers for KPMG’s publication ConsumerCurrents.
ConsumerCurrents provides senior executives at consumer goods companies, insight on topical industry issues, global trends and business planning.
There are few shops that can boast having 1m customer visits within three months. But then, there are not many stores in which you will find an alligator swamp, a 13-lane bowling alley, a 23-storey freestanding glass elevator and a hotel.
Bass Pro, a chain of outdoor sports shops, opened the emporium in a 535,000 square foot, glass-clad pyramid in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, in April. The pyramid, a former sports arena that had been derelict for the best part of a decade, is now the biggest of Bass Pro’s 90 shops.
It represents an extraordinary investment in retail at a time when most of the industry is grappling with the economics of their business models in response to the rise of dedicated online retailers, such as China’s Alibaba and Amazon of the US.
Yet this store was conceived of as a response to the rise of online purchasing: shopping as entertainment. Bass Pro’s founder, John Morris, was named as one of the 25 “People Shaping Retail’s Future” this year by the US National Retail Federation Foundation, an industry body.
The emphasis throughout the various departments — including camping, water sports, footwear and outdoor gear — is on fun and on experiencing the products on offer — whether by shooting a gun, learning how to tie a fishing fly or getting a fishing lesson in one of the ponds.
The pyramid may be an extreme example but many of its features are present in smaller Bass Pro shops, one reason why the typical customer lingers in them for almost two hours — four times the average time spent in shops, according to Paul Martin, managing director of KPMG Boxwood, a consultancy.
“People try the product and have an experience that brings it to life,” he says. This leads to higher sales. “The conversion rates [the number of visitors who buy something] with this in-store experience are much higher and shoppers’ basket sizes are also a lot bigger.”
Russell Willcox, chairman of Box Technologies, a UK-based consultancy, says replicating, and improving on, the online experience is how to win the battle for shoppers will be lost of won. For all retailers this involves trying to make shopping more convenient and pleasurable.
Opening more smaller convenience stores has also made it easier for people to top up a big online shop locally. But, once inside, customers’ tolerance for long queues is a thing of the past. Hence the proliferation of self-service checkouts, with staff on hand to sort out difficulties with machines quickly.
J Sainsbury, one of the UK’s largest grocery chains, said in October that it was testing quicker checkout methods, including a shopping app. This lets a customer scan in their shopping list at home before they head to the shop, where their mobile shows them where their items are located. The shopper then pays via their mobile.
In addition to convenience, shopping also has to be fun. These days you have to be as much a sociologist as retailer in thinking up enjoyable ways for people to shop, says José Carlos González-Hurtado, president of international for IRI, a consultancy, and a former senior executive at Carrefour, France’s biggest retailer.
A “surprise” — such as an unexpectedly heavily-discounted item — is one method, he says and such methods have the additional benefit for the retailer of promoting impulse buying. This approach has been taken by Costco, the membership-based US retailer where shoppers discover items at a hefty discount available for a limited period.
Limited editions and a constant stream of new styles are also effective in enticing people into stores and getting them to spend money. H&M’s limited-edition collections from designers that have included Matthew Williamson, Sonia Rykiel and Alexander Wang, may sell out within hours, but the publicity generated by the association lasts a lot longer.
Stores must also realise that they are becoming a social playground, says David McCorquodale, UK head of retail at KPMG, a professional services firm. “Why do pensioners go shopping on a Saturday when the shops would be quieter on a weekday? It’s often because of the social aspect, the buzz and hubbub. Young people also want to go shopping as a reason to get out of the house with friends and have some fun.”
Most purchases are still made in shops, but the lines between in-store and online are blurring, Mr McCorquodale says. If someone chooses a shirt from a catalogue at home, pays for it online and picks it up in a shop, is that a catalogue, online, or in-store sale?
Providing an efficient omni or multichannel service by having the correct IT systems and dedicated staff is going to be the way of the future, says KPMG Boxwood’s Mr Martin.
“A lot of commentators try to describe the store and the online channel as being enemies . . . [but] they are allies if executed well,” Mr Martin says. “It’s all about that seamless integration of the channels.”
Scheherazade Daneshkhu, Consumer Industries Editor
The old static five-year-plan is no longer relevant in an ever changing complex trading environment, argues Paul Martin, managing director at Boxwood Insights, part of KPMG Boxwood.
Retailers must keep complexity outside their organisations and not allow it to destroy efficiency on the inside, argues Paul Martin, Director at KPMG Boxwood.
Our Anna Kuusela gives her opinion on the effect the recent economic upset will have on the cosmetics industry.
“While Black Monday alone may not be that significant for the cosmetics industry, when combined with the slowdown of the Chinese market, it starts to be a real challenge for many retailers. The market structure, along with currency constraints, will continue to put pressure on the industry, a huge part of which is made up of foreign enterprises. It will be interesting to see if Chinese consumers tighten their purse strings.”
KPMG Boxwood Manager Anna Kuusela comments on the current trend towards premium skincare.
Having a vision and expecting people to follow you, because you know best, won’t get you very far as a retail leader, argues Paul Martin, managing director of Boxwood Insights at KPMG Boxwood.
The infrastructure sector needs visionaries and a will to collaborate if it wants to lead the march towards a world fit for the next generation, says Toby Ashong, Head of Infrastructure.
Commenting on the latest ONS Retail Sales figures for June 2015 – Paul Martin, Managing Director Insights, KPMG Boxwood said:
“On the surface, this month’s ONS figures appear encouraging with sales volumes increasing by 4.0% over the same period in 2015 - the 27th consecutive month of year-on-year growth. However, compared to last month’s numbers, the quantity bought fell 0.2% and all store types saw a decrease in average store price compared…read more
Director of Infrastructure Toby Ashong gives his viewpoint on third party intermediaries (TPIs) in Utility Week. Do TPIs simplify a complex market or exploit customer ignorance?
Today, KPMG in the UK has acquired Boxwood - a deal with the award-winning business transformation firm will boost KPMG’s UK mid-market management consultancy practice.
Chris Wakerley, KPMG partner and managing director of Boxwood, added: “This move is tremendously exciting for Boxwood, our clients and our people. KPMG’s broad capabilities, extensive experience and global reach will further enhance the value that we can deliver for our clients. This will also create fantastic career opportunities for all of our current and future employees. We are very much looking forward to working with our new colleagues in KPMG and to the next stage of our development.”
Insights Director Paul Martin comments on the issue of online retailers developing a bricks and mortar presence in the wake of the BRC International Retailing conference.
The ability to evolve your core customer value proposition, and to stay relevant and attractive to your current and future shoppers is key for consumer-facing firms, says Boxwood’s Paul Martin.
Now that a political derailment has been averted, what does the future hold for the rail industry? Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong investigates on page 27 of this month’s Rail Professional.
At the annual MCA Awards, held on 23 April 2015, Boxwood were Highly Commended in the Change Management in the Private Sector category for our work with Arco, experts in safety and the UK’s largest supplier of safety equipment.
Arco is a long-established leader in the workplace safety market – but their market was changing rapidly. Boxwood worked with the business to help them develop and implement a new, more relevant customer value proposition and operating model.
The results saw operating profit grow 32%, customer satisfaction reach highest–ever levels and colleague engagement scores rise dramatically – helping Arco transform its proud history into a sustainable future.
Our industry research paper on the future of UK infrastructure has highlighted a need for clear government support and policy direction after the General Election, to ensure that projects are delivered.
Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong’s March column in Rail Professional addresses the topic: Value for money is in the eye of the beholder, and the retail world may have something to teach us.
Boxwood’s Christmas Trading Report reveals the 2014 Christmas trading period proved to be even more challenging than usual for many retailers. An unseasonably mild autumn together with the chaotic scenes we saw on Black Friday and Cyber Monday left many retailers perplexed on how to effectively manage the holiday trading period. In particular, Christmas 2014 saw supply chains come under severe strain as record numbers of consumers moved online in search of best price and convenience. Nonetheless, there were some notable successes across the trading period for those who managed to plan adequately and, more importantly, execute their plans effectively.
The banks were too big to fail and the taxpayer had to bail them out, but might the same thing not be true of privately owned monopoly networks businesses? Our Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong fears it is.
We are delighted to announce that Boxwood has been shortlisted for this year’s Management Consultancy Association(MCA) Awards, which will be announced in London on 23th April 2015. Our work with Arco has been shortlisted in the Change Management in the Private Sector category.
The fourth and final article in a series examining the retail iconoclasts – four A-grade companies, whose names just happen to also begin with an A, who are redefining retail performance.
The third in a series of four articles examining the retail iconoclasts – four A-grade companies, whose names just happen to also begin with an A, who are redefining retail performance.
The discounters have had quite a year - and this Christmas they are set to pile more pressure than ever on the Big Four grocers.
We all look forward to the day when, thanks to M2M, our fridges order our milk and our smart meters regulate our heating. But as M2M (“machine to machine”, which connects isolated machines and devices to the internet to create an ‘Internet of Things’) becomes reality, who will be the winners and losers? Stuart Bradley discusses.
Last week saw the exciting re-introduction of the Netto retail brand into the UK after a four-year hiatus. Tony Browne examines the impact
Boxwood Insights Managing Director Paul Martin talks to Essential Retail about Alibaba’s record-breaking flotation.
Can Ofgem adapt to a world of rapid change, or is a new regulator one of the changes that’s needed? Toby Ashong spoke to Utility Week.
Head of Infrastructure Toby Ashong discusses the right model for rail franchising and looks at the three reasons it’s so hard to get right.
The second in a series of four articles examining the retail iconoclasts - four A-grade companies, whose names just happen to also begin with an A, who are redefining retail performance.
Amazon – a retail ecosystem of 120 million products and counting set to overtake Walmart as the largest retailer in the world by 2025 by revenue. Competing against this behemoth on choice is unrealistic. The conundrum for many competitors is how to balance choice against the constant aim of lowering the cost per transaction.
One month ago Aldi Nord in Germany launched two smartphone models – the difference to the UK launch is that these were branded models rather than own-brand. Our Head of Insights, Paul Martin, spoke to Retail Week about what this means for the discounter.
“This is all about showing strategic intent and the quality of your channel to market”
Paul Martin, managing director at Boxwood Insights, considers strategies for retailer leadership following the death of Karl Albrecht of Aldi and Philip Clarke’s departure from Tesco
“Over the last week, two very significant stories have hit the retail news headlines. The first was the passing of Karl Albrecht who, together with his brother Theo, founded Aldi in Germany over 50 years ago. Read more
The big grocers are all looking to reconnect with customers as sales decline. Retail Week takes a look at whether anti-corporate sentiment is affecting the supermarkets with commentary from Boxwood Insights Director Paul Martin
German dominance on the football field is nothing new, but the strength of the German retailers, especially when playing away, is something to behold.
Aldi is the first of our 4 As. We’ll be looking at why it has become such a force to be reckoned with and how it is changing the face of retail.
IT programmes go wrong for a variety of reasons, but at the heart of every failed programme is poor communication between people. People make mistakes, relationships deteriorate and delays happen. Delay in itself becomes a compounding factor as situations and requirements then change. Dealing with those issues in a timely and cost-effective manner will help prevent delays becoming endemic.
This is an introduction to a series of four articles examining retail iconoclasts - four leading companies, whose names just happen to all begin with A, who are redefining today’s retail performance.
Speaking at the European TCG (Technical Consumer Goods) Retail Summit in Berlin, Germany, Paul Martin, Managing Director of Boxwood Insights, said: “The big box is dead – retail outlets have to change and offer retail theatre. We believe 30 to 50 per cent of big-box stores across Europe will disappear in the next 10 to 15 years.”
Boxwood’s work was featured in The Times’ MCA Awards supplement for 2014. The piece explores Boxwood’s successful work with Balfour Beatty and the ‘huge team effort to cut costs but not standards’.
21 May 2014
Boxwood raised £16,500 for the Shooting Star Chase charity by hosting a number of fundraising events. These culminated in an apprentice style challenge, where four staff teams from Boxwood took over separate branches of the chain last week, competing between themselves to raise as much money as possible. Click the PDF to read more.
25 April 2014
We are delighted to announce that at this year’s Management Consultancy Association (MCA) Awards, held on 24 April, Boxwood won overall Project of the Year for our work with Balfour Beatty. We were also Highly Commended for our work with Guardian News and Media and nominated for our work with Travelex. The win represents the culmination of an exceptional year for the team.
26 February 2014
Paul Cooper’s blog article of February 2014 was published by New Civil Engineer. AMP6 is coming and it would appear that very few companies are ready. Until now, the focus for even the most progressive water companies has rightly been on business planning, evaluating suppliers and awarding contracts. Now it is time to plan for the wholesale changes that will be required to their own businesses once AMP6 arrives, before it is too late…
Director Jon Dakin’s blog post was published in Retail Week. Despite vast investment, retail IT projects routinely fail to deliver. Retailers spend a lot of time and effort on increasingly sophisticated technology, so how should they be developing and adopting it? Jon Dakin, director at Boxwood, says a solid business case is necessary: “There should be no such thing as a technology project - it’s a business transformation project.
Boxwood has been shortlisted in three separate award categories for this year’s Management Consultancy Association(MCA) Awards, which will be announced in London on 24th April. The three categories - Change Management in the Private Sector for our work with Guardian News & Media; Performance Improvement in the Private Sector for our work with Balfour Beattyand Strategy for our work with Travelex, reflect the breadth and variety of consultancy carried out by Boxwood in the preceding 18 months.
Boxwood has revealed the companies changing the future of retail in New York. As part of the NRF, Boxwood Insights Managing Director, Paul Martin, led 20 retailers on a walking tour of the most exciting retail developments on the New York shopping scene. Read the full press release or download the NRF store presentation.
Paul Martin, Managing Director of Boxwood’s Business Insight Unit presented a Global Retail Outlook at the 41st IFM conference in Paris this week. Outlined were the key future trends and innovation in retail to an audience of over 1000 of France and Europe’s largest retailers, suppliers and service providers.
Boxwood is expanding its insight and research capabilities with the appointment of Paul Martin from Planet Retail. Paul will head up “Boxwood Insights” as Managing Director; bringing his extensive analytical experience and behavioural trend spotting to the benefit of Boxwood’s clients in this expanded company division. To read the press release, click here.
Amish Patel’s blog article was published in Modern Railways. Every commuter on the British railway suspects something isn’t quite right. Signals sticking, points freezing, electricity failures, buckled rails - there is a seemingly never-ending litany of excuses played out across the tannoys and departure boards of our rail network. Behind the scenes, there’s even a book for them all - the Delay Attribution Guide - a tome that just gets longer and longer.
When good strategies get lost in translation, it’s seldom because there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the ideas. Instead, execution falls victim to a predictable series of leadership stumbles. After all, it’s easy to think that just because the board and executives signed off a new strategy that they must be aligned with it.
Boxwood presented P&G-Tesco with the IGD Industry Award for Business Transformation at the annual IGD award ceremony held in London on 8 October 2013. This prize, sponsored by Boxwood for the fifth year running, is awarded to the organisation that has significantly transformed their business to achieve top line growth, operational excellence or sustainable improvements in profit.
Our business aspirations are thrashing our technology capability to a point where ‘IT’ and ‘success’ are never heard in the same sentence.
The unstoppable trend to omni-channel retailing illustrates the conundrum where every new channel both requires considerable investment yet simultaneously erodes margins – the so-called “Race to the bottom”. Unless you are very lucky, legacy systems were never designed to do what we now ask if them. This isn’t just a problem for the ‘IT guys’ to resolve, it is a business wide challenge. Read more
Wall Street Journal: Boxwood today urged the Government to break through the stalemate that is currently stifling investment into UK infrastructure. In sector analysis, published to coincide with the UK spending review and the Government announcements on infrastructure spending, Boxwood outlines the blockages that hamper the process and examines potential solutions that could see a way forward for private sector investment.
All you hear these days in the trade press and conference circuit is the importance of having a personalised offer that customers can access at any time in any way they wish. The trouble is, we have educated the average punter with a smartphone or tablet to expect all this convenience for free and actually, it is rather expensive.
The obvious costs of IT infrastructure and distribution are dwarfed by the hidden cost of the complexity most bricks and mortar retailers face when trying to deal with the endless permutations of multi-channel customer journeys.
The rolling soap opera that is the UK’s rail franchise system has had its fair share of plot twists in recent times. It’s barely mid summer and for rail watchers 2013 already feels like an extended action-packed Christmas special. Directly Operated Railways was set up as ‘operator of last resort’, at a time when many believed the East Coast franchise failure and subsequent return to Government hands would not be the last of its kind. The real surprise since has been that DoR, far from being a limping ‘also ran’, has turned into one of the leaders of the pack.
Rail Professional: The rail industry breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced that Cap and Collar would end with the current franchise cycle, but in a masterstroke that threatens to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, the replacement scheme based around GDP risk sharing has seemingly inherited many of the major weaknesses of its forebear. Worse still, it is missing a real opportunity to use the franchising model to provide a desperately needed boost to the UK’s rail infrastructure.
We are delighted to announce that we were Highly Commended for our work with Tube Lines at the MCA Awards which took place in London last night. The MCA awards have been celebrating the value of consulting for 16 years, by promoting the very best projects and consultants that the industry has to offer. Click left to download the video and case study.
Great strategies and great innovations are essential to drive businesses forward. But what really counts is the ability to execute on them. In 2013, why not focus instead on doing less - and achieving more? Jon Dakin discusses the the key things to get right when mining ideas from the workforce in his article in Comms Business.
Matt Malone expresses his views in an article on WealthBriefing looking at global trends in the Wealth Management industry. Banks are not serving the real economy as they should and trust in them has plummeted. There has been a culture of recklessness, and often wrongdoing, which has done great damage.
Management Today: Technology continues to move forward at an alarming pace but a large number of CEOs are failing to mobilise their companies to take advantage of these technological leaps and bounds. Why? Click right to read the article by Boxwood Director Jon Dakin.
We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Change Management in the Private Sector category for our work with Tube Lines. Read more.
Retail Times has published an article by Matt Clark on the opportunities and obstacles to international retail expansion Many UK retailers have already expanded extensively overseas and, if you listen to the press and pay attention to conference speeches, this is a ‘must do’ activity for retailers that want to grow. However, many of the retailers that have expanded have not enjoyed the experience. Hence our question: is international expansion an essential growth strategy or an ego trip for the leadership team that distracts the organisation? Of course the answer is – depends on how you do it…
The Grocer: has published an article by Matt Clark on facing the challenges in today’s consumer market.
Retail Week have published an article regarding the research and findings from our thought leadership paper on what it takes to lead successful transformation whilst under sustained financial pressures. One of the key challenges today’s leaders are facing is striking the right balance between short term needs and long-term growth opportunities.
Does the rise in online shopping signal the death of the High Street? Click right and turn to page four to find out in an interview with Matt Clark, Director of Consumer
Congratulations to Erin Murphy, who was awarded Best Newcomer at the Executive PA Awards on 14th October 2011. Since joining Boxwood, Erin has impressed everyone with her enthusiasm, dedication and hard work so we are thrilled she has been recognised with this award.
Terry Morgan CBE has joined Boxwood as a Non-Executive Board Director to support the senior management team as the business grows. His key roles will be to deepend the company’s knowledge on transport and infrastructure, assist with our planned expansion and strengthen our corporate governance.
Boxwood won three awards including the overall Platinum award for our work with Carphone Warehouse. In addition, we won awards for Change Management in the Private Sector with Carphone Warehouse and Operational Performance in the Private Sector withTrader Media Group.