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These are testing times for retailers, so much so that it can be difficult for retailers to look beyond short-term issues. Every week seems to bring news of a retailer that has gone into administration, all against a backdrop of political turbulence. Look beyond immediate problems, though, and there are good reasons for optimism. The retailers we have highlighted in this report are innovative and, whether trying to be the best in a niche part of the market or to grow to gatecrash the Top500, staffed by energetic and imaginative management teams.

Nonetheless, one issue in particular has recurred when analysing recent RetailX research – on the G2K and beyond. What should the role of bricks-and-mortar stores be? In this context, the problems experienced by the British department store sector, despite its pioneering work in multichannel retail, is worth closer scrutiny. Stores are expensive and, if they cannot be shown to bring in revenue and profits consistent with these costs, tough choices have to be made – simply arguing that a store is a great place for customers to click and collect is not enough in itself.

From different angles, we would suggest that many G2K retailers will similarly have to look at their stores. Is it worth, for example, a regional retailer expanding into scruffy high streets that, in all honesty, have seen better days? Do specialist retailers need to be in town and city centres at all or would they do better to pick out-of-town premises? Conversely, do pureplays need to look at strategically located stores as a way to build brand awareness.

We will explore these questions and many others in the year ahead. In the meantime, we would like to congratulate those retailers that make up the G2K. Whether on the role of stores or other facets of RetailCraft, please do share your thoughts

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