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From the editor-in-chief – October 2016

WELCOME TO THE latest in our series of IRUK Top500 Dimension Reports, where we think our focus on Strategy & Innovation is particularly timely in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It’s a momentous decision that has thrown into doubt ideas once held as near-certainties. Cross-border trade within the European Union has long been a straightforward way for British retailers, last year recognised by OC&C Strategy Consultants as the world’s strongest online exporters, to grow audiences and sell into new countries. With the introduction of the digital single market, EU trade seemed set to get ever easier.

Is that all about to change in the light of Brexit? As yet, the answer to that isn’t clear. Retailers will no doubt be revisiting strategies as they consider how factors, including ongoing uncertainties and the continuing weakness of sterling, might affect multichannel and ecommerce growth strategies in years to come.

If it goes ahead, Brexit will no doubt come to be seen as one of the great disruptive events of the early 21st century for Britain. This is probably the moment at which multichannel retailers face the most significant strategic decisions they’ve had to make in more than a decade. But it’s from such moments of disruption and uncertainty that innovation can be born. For it’s from considering the needs of the customer as these new circumstances develop that ideas and practices of the future can emerge.

In this Dimension Report, we’re considering the new leadership questions that face us in this brave new world, as well as mapping best practice in this Dimension across the UK. It’s a fascinating moment at which to consider this subject.

In the years to come, we’ll be considering how top retailers have responded to this changed picture, and how they have plotted expansion in a world in which Britain’s place has changed. We’ll be finding ways to make objective assessments in the light of the hard data, while putting these assessments in the context of the wider retail experience. As always, we’re interested to hear what our readers think – do share your thoughts.

Ian Jindal


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