Archive for February, 2009

Prepare for an Invasion of the Tourist Shoppers!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I’m just back from a week in the land of the extremes – Dubai. What a place! Everything you read about it is true. That is, except for the fact that it’s a great place to go shopping.

Ok, I guess it depends what you mean by great shopping. All the well known brands have shops in the Malls (our hotel even had it’s own Tiffany and Cartier shops) – the choice is endless. However, there was one big difference. The products are no longer cheap

The Dirham is linked to the US Dollar so the 25% drop against the pound makes a big difference but even taking that into account the prices still appear high. In the ‘famous’ Dubai Airport Duty Free shop my son pointed out that his PS3 games were £54 against £35-£40 in the UK. My new Blackberry was around £500 to buy when I got it free with a £25 p.m. 18 month contract (£450 inc £1620 worth of calls!). Also bear in mind that if you did buy a few things you would need to declare it at customs and pay an additional 15% VAT.

So what does this tell us? Well, two things strike me. Obviously the drop in the value of the £ has made a significant difference to price comparisons but I also believe that the UK market has become so efficient/competitive that it’s hard to get better value.

So here’s the crux of today’s blog – Prepare for an invasion of the tourist shoppers!

It’s already happening in Northern Ireland where the consumers from the South are taking daily shopping trips to the North where their Euros will buy 20% more than last year.

We can look forward this year to an influx of tourists from Europe, The US and even Japan who will not only be sightseeing but ‘filling their boots’ with cheap UK products. Let’s prepare to meet the challenge.

Do you have any staff with language skills? Are you prepared to take/exchange Euros or Dollars? Do you have UK/European/US size chart comparisions on display? Let’s advertise the fact in the windows that these visitors are most welcome.

 Maybe if you’re lucky enough to be in a tourist area that this might actually be a very good year for sales!

Tony Heywood – Gilcrest Services Ltd
Retail Troubleshooter
Rescue and Recovery Consultant

Strategies for Survival in 2009

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Congratulations if you’ve made it so far! You’ve obviously got most of your ‘house in order’ but if you think 2008 was tough, in the words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’. So it’s going to do no harm to look at all areas of your costs to see if any more fat can be trimmed.

A good strategy is to start with a blank piece of paper (or start a new Excel spread sheet). Forget about your existing business let’s put a plan together for a new business. Enter all the overheads you need for this ‘new business’ (or even dig out your original business plan if you still have it)

Now look at you existing expenses and compare them to your plan for your new business. I bet there’s lots of costs that you hadn’t budgeted for. So you didn’t think you needed them for your new business – are you sure you need them now? Are there cheaper alternatives to the £3 per week you’re paying for hand dryers in the toilets (+the cost of electricity). 

The comparison websites, MoneySupermarket, Go Compare etc are not just for individuals – check out the best deals for your electricity supply, telephone, business insurance etc. BTW sign up for a cash back website such as and access the comparison sites from there and you can get commission back as well!

Why not ask your staff for money saving ideas? They are a wealth of experience and they often view you business from a totally different angle. Offer a reward for the best ideas – 50% of the yearly saving or a meal for 2 at Pizza Express (then print out the 2 for 1 on-line voucher!!!)

Be ruthless and cut out everything that’s not needed to get more sales! Talk the cuts through with your staff – they’d prefer to forgo some ‘luxuries’ if it means that their job is more secure.

Later we can discuss stock, suppliers and landlords – Good Luck

Tony Heywood – Gilcrest Services Ltd
Retail Troubleshooter
Rescue and Recovery Consultant