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EDITORIAL How retailers from JD Sports to M&S are adapting to Brexit and Covid-19

Primark is building its digital capacity even though it doesn't yet sell online. Image courtesy of Primark

Primark is building its digital capacity even though it doesn't yet sell online. Image courtesy of Primark

In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re reporting as multichannel retailers rethink the way they do business, in the light of both Brexit and Covid. M&S is looking again at the way it sells in France – and the rest of Europe – as a result of the changes that came about with the new post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU. JD Sports is investing in new EU warehousing in order to mitigate the “adverse consequences of Brexit”, while opening a new UK warehouse to cater for the growing army of online shoppers in this country. The figures come as new analysis of HMRC data suggests that UK businesses have spent an extra £600m on customs duties since January. Today the UK also said it would again delay some post-Brexit trade checks on food and farming imports amid supply chain difficulties. 

Made is also boosting its warehousing in both the EU and the UK as more shoppers go online to buy the homewares and large furniture that it sells.

That shift online is encouraging higher levels of digital investment from brands and retailers who are discovering the advantages of digital as shoppers shift further online. Primark is boosting its digital team – even though it only sells through shops. The value fashion retailer is investing in digital marketing and personalised messaging as well as in a new informational website where customers will be able to explore the range in more depth and see local stock availability. Pottery group Portmeirion, too, says that more than half of its sales in its two largest markets, the US and the UK, are now online, and it’s investing in boosting its digital capacity still further.

At Ocado, meanwhile, the focus has been about recovering from a fire in its Erith customer fulfilment centre – which the retailer says may cost it £35m in lost revenue, and £10m in net costs, despite affecting less than 1% of its grid. 

Today’s guest comment comes from Aaron Begner of Forter who has four suggestions for taking action ahead of this year’s peak shopping season. 

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