Exploitation of big data the answer for supermarket giants battling low cost competitors

11th June 2019

Dave McNulty talks to Stuart Richards

The pace of change in our industry never seems to abate. The rise and rise of the German retailers is seemingly inexorable, with their ultra-efficient assortments and aligned, low-cost supply chains allowing them to deliver a value proposition that shoppers need and want.

It’s an approach that has alerted shoppers to the inefficiencies of the more traditional sales technique of value through promotions.

Let’s be honest, deep cut price promotions or hi-low strategies were once the drug of the retailer, shopper and manufacturer alike. But this deep deal culture was at the root cause of huge supply chain inefficiency with forecasting, inventory management and service all increasingly complex to master for everyone in the chain.

If this inefficiency ended in empty shelves or high wastage the end result could be a disillusioned and disenfranchised shopper, something that can have a damaging effect on loyalty.

So, is the answer for the big retailers to replicate that Every Day Low Prices (EDLP) approach to win shoppers back?

Should the ‘Big 4’ tighten assortments to drive efficiency, move to an EDLP or medium-low approach and work with fewer suppliers in a more collaborative way, jettisoning those who cannot bring themselves to align?

As unpalatable as it may be, the simple answer is yes or maybe. But it’s not all that black and white and the truth lies a little deeper.

Inevitably, retailers will only want to work with those who align to their strategic agenda – even the big brand powerhouses recognise that. It’s how you align that will determine your success in navigating through the retail landscape. This begins with a re-evaluation of the landscape.

The shopper of today is a digital savvy shopper, one who is perfectly happy to shift to online in the pursuit of convenience, experience and value. The emergence of Amazon as the UK’s fifth biggest retailer may be uncomfortable for many retailers, but it’s indicative of a significant shift in shoppers’ mindsets.

Subscription models such as harrys.com or Dollar Shave Club in male grooming or Hello Fresh in meal solutions have cut out the middlemen and gone straight to their consumer. Another hammer blow to big retailers? Far from it, but it must be a concern.

So how does big retail adapt and how do manufacturers align and help? I believe the answer lies in data and the availability of it through internet shopping and loyalty/CRM programme tools.

Artificial Intelligence will be transformational for our industry. When you’re on any digital platform you’re generating hugely valuable data which the most intelligent machines will interpret and then customise their content to you.

So, working with supermarkets to utilise this data and customise your offers to individual shoppers is powerful. Accurately identifying your target consumer or shopper and presenting them with a relevant deal enhances not only their experience but it also drives tremendous efficiencies in areas such as supply chain management.

Working collaboratively with retailers in this way isn’t of course the only solution; aligning on food sourcing and sustainability, navigating legislative headwinds like the sugar levy or HFSS regulation, and capitalising on wellness trends are all valid areas of collaboration.

But big data lies behind so many facets of today’s retail landscape and its exploitation will allow manufacturers and retailers alike to work together in a unique way to drive value and loyalty for all.

Dave McNulty is a highly experienced MD and commercial director in grocery, wholesale and cash and carry, working in senior roles for global brands including Kraft and Coca Cola. Stuart Richards is a Principal Consultant in the Global Consumer Practice at HW Global Talent Partner. Contact him at stuartr@hwglobalpartner.com or +44 (0) 161 249 5170 or +44 (0) 7787 254 600.

HW Global acquires leading digital recruitment specialist

9th May 2019

HW Global Talent Partner has today announced it has joined forces with UK digital recruitment agency Zebra People.

HW Global has taken a controlling interest in the privately-owned London-based firm, launched in 2001 by Nick Cochrane.

Zebra People specialises in hiring digital product teams, with typical roles including user experience (UX) and product design, full stack developers, product managers and delivery/project managers. The firm recruits for roles up to director level – both permanent and contract.

HW Global currently operates on an exclusive and retained basis in the £120K+ search market, also placing interims on daily rates from £700 to £2,000.

The deal is the first in a series of planned acquisitions designed to enable the fast growing global executive search and interim firm to offer its clients an end-to-end talent solution in key functional areas of high growth, transformation and demand.

Other potential acquisition targets include recruitment agencies specialising in finance, HR, technology and professional interim at the tier below executive level, and HW Global would welcome approaches from like-minded recruiters and investors.

The Zebra People acquisition will enable HW Global to offer a comprehensive digital talent service to its clients, with HW appointing senior digital leaders and the Zebra People team building the critical capability that sits underneath.

Both HW Global and Zebra People will continue to trade under their existing brands, with a new holding company HWJ Holdings acting as the acquisition vehicle. The deal creates a £16m turnover business with c. 50 staff in London, Leeds and Manchester. HW Global’s CEO Spencer Jinks and Chairman Paul Spetch will sit on the Zebra People board.

Other benefits of the deal will include efficiencies driven through shared services, mainly around accountancy, legal and audit.

Spencer Jinks said: “HW Global and Zebra People complement each other in so many ways and once we were introduced to Nick and his team there was an instant meeting of minds, with the huge mutual benefit of our combined expertise obvious.

“Zebra People has a fantastic reputation for building diverse high calibre digital and UX teams, whilst sharing a desire to provide exceptional service to both clients and candidates alike. The partnership provides a fantastic platform to share expertise, whilst accelerating careers and skill set and attracting new talent to underpin our ambitious growth plans.”

Zebra People’s clients include Monzo, The Guardian, Which?, Eurostar, Just Eat, Aviva, Barclays, Lloyds and Global Radio alongside government agencies such as the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Work & Pensions and the Department for Education – as well as start-ups.

Director Nick Cochrane said: “Joining forces with HW Global will open up a wide range of opportunities for us both in the UK and internationally, while offering our clients the executive search service we had previously been unable to provide.

“The two businesses are undoubtedly an excellent cultural fit with a lot in common in terms of ways of working, ambition, innovation and how we value and invest in long term relationships with our clients and candidates. We are looking forward to an exciting future.”

Philip Ellis, of Optima Corporate Finance, provided corporate finance advice to HW Global, and Jonathan Asquez of Gordons LLP’s Leeds office provided legal advice. Financial due diligence was carried out by Simon Kite and tax advice by Mike Hodges, both of Saffery Champness, Manchester. Andy Francey, of Freeths, Leeds, provided legal advice to Zebra People.

HW Global named in list of industry leaders signed up to Women in Finance Charter

8th April 2019

HW Global Talent Partner has just been named in an HM Treasury list of financial services leaders signed up to its Women in Finance Charter.

The executive search and interim firm is one of the latest 36 companies the Government has approved to join the Charter, which aims to achieve gender balance at all levels across the sector.

The Charter commits firms to supporting the progression of women into senior roles in financial services by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level.

HW Global Talent Partner has pledged to commit to four industry actions to promote gender diversity:

• having one member of our senior executive team (Founding Director John Wakeford) responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion

• headline target to maintain 30% of women in senior management by September 2022 and supporting targets – maintain our offering of flexible working and promotion opportunities available for all members of staff

• publishing progress annually against these targets in reports on our website

• having an intention to ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these internal targets on gender diversity.

Pascale Gara, Head of HW Global’s Chair & NED practice, (pictured) said: “Diversity has been a constant focus across all the Chair/NED searches we have conducted on behalf of clients over the last two years. Half of all our candidates who were successful during that time have been female.”

The Women in Finance Charter was launched by HM Treasury following recommendations in a review by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, former CEO of Virgin Money, on the representation of women in senior managerial roles in financial services.

Her report ‘Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the talents of women in financial services’, which focused on the talent pipeline at the executive population below board level, was published in March 2016. It found women made up only 14%   of executive committees in the financial services sector.

There are now 330 firms across financial services signed up to the commitments of the Charter – from global banks to credit unions, the largest insurance companies to the smallest fintech start-ups – with headquarters in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia.

This means more than 800,000 employees in the UK are now covered by the Charter.

HW Global Talent Partner already boasts successful retention rates, with 11 out of 14 female employees having remained with the firm for more than two years and half for more than five years.

Founding Partner John Wakeford, head of HW Global’s Financial Services practice, said: “Although we are a small organisation, we are making a pledge for gender balance across financial services.

“We became a Charter signatory to raise awareness of the diversity agenda and to drive an industry wide approach. We are promoting and maintaining focus on gender diversity at the highest levels, not only within our organisation, but also in the searches and shortlists that we provide our clients with.

“We would like to see this help towards creating a permanent sustainable change across the financial services industry and other industry sectors that we work within too.”

The full list of firms just signed up to the Charter can be seen in the HM Treasury press release.