Ghosts in the Rockies

20180830_143157

Probably the best ghost sign collection I have seen – Missoula, Montana

In one of the many ironies of destroying my knee in May, we were left with a race against time to see if I was fit enough to go on a booked holiday in late August and early September. Would I make it to our walking holiday in the Canadian Rockies and northern Montana?

Well I made it, but not to do any walking. Recovery remains a work in progress. But, in a compensatory fashion it meant we spent more time in small towns and discovered a collection of ghost signs, historic stores, store museums and various other historic retail artefacts. It was not the focus of the holiday (honest) but we accidentally came across some fun retail things.

So what follows are some of my holiday snaps – those with a retail history theme. As can be seen from the photo at the head of this post, some of the ghost signs and history were spectacular.

Buried deep in the Montana wildness, was the ghost town of Garnet. In a relatively difficult ravine, the town is in the state of preserved decay. I could not explore much, but the shop on the main street had a collection of artefacts and gave a sense of the past. Having to dig it out of the snow each year must be a fun pastime. I loved the wooden skis.

 

In contrast to the preserved oldness of Garnet, the museum of Fort Steele in British Columbia was an altogether different experience. Whilst some of the shops and street buildings were being allowed to decay as being too far gone, many had been restored and preserved. Not all were from the original settlement, and some were being reused in a modern way (the bakery, the hotel etc) so the whole settlement was hardly original, but there was considerable interest in just walking around and in the old stores.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

More generally, in all the small towns we visited there were reminders of the past in the form of ghost signs and great retail design. The brick work in many of these places lends itself to painted signs, and the photos below (from Kalispell, Hamilton and Banff) are a reminder of this lost art.

20180903_104058

20180903_10401420180903_10221020180903_10223820180906_12522220180906_12525420180831_110049

As ever, we are at the mercy of what survives, and whilst these examples are wonderful there is a sense of their fragility and lack of permanence.  What we preserve, allow to decay, or protect present real and difficult choices. Enjoy these reminders of the past while we can.

20180903_104225

A better photographer would have been able to show this Coca-Cola sign in a better state, Kalispell

 

 

Posted in Advertising, Architecture, Buildings, Canada, Corporate branding, Downtown, Ghost Signs, Heritage, High Streets, Historic Shops, Places, Retail History, Signage, Small Towns, Streetscapes, Urban History, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Go To An Exhibition

20181004_173909

It was not quite my shortest visit to Singapore, but it came close; a couple of days launching a new partnership with Amity University and our annual graduation ceremony with SIM.  For reading on the plane I had grabbed a book from my desk which I’d been meaning to read for some time – Silence of the Archives by David Thomas, Simon Fowler and Valerie Johnson.

My interest in the book stemmed from our experiences of trying to recreate Sanders Bros; a major inter-war food retailer which left no archive after it was taken over and broken up.  We have been trying to accumulate as many artefacts and details as we can.  Whilst this process is easier now in the digital/internet era than it was, it still leaves questions over the meaning of the surviving pieces, their interpretation, but also what can not be found anymore.

As the Silence of the Archives debates, what is in an archive or collection, and what is not, and why, are vital questions for all of us in many contexts.  Little is truly value-free.

This took on particular relevance, as en route to the flight back, I took in (together with two retail colleagues) an exhibition at the National Library of Singapore entitled Selling Dreams: Advertising in Early Singapore.  We spent a fascinating 90 minutes or so looking around.

The artefacts used – mainly print and visual material – are taken from the National Library Collection.  The exhibition explores the advertising approach in the early years of Singapore.  Most is historical or pre-dates independence, with little after the 1960s.

20181004_175729

Much of the exhibition allows a consideration of the early life of Singapore as seen via advertising.  This is focused on colonial times; the aspirations of ex-pats and the creation of society form a theme, as do the issues of living in a tropical, developing country.  As the imagery shows, themes of home country and identity are pervasive.

Our interest was a retail one of course and the exhibition contains much of interest.  A section on the grand department stores shows the building of retail Singapore and the colonial lifestyle.  More interestingly a section on the adverts of the lost shops of High Street provides a different window on retailing than seen in Orchard Road which supplanted High Street.

 

A couple of items allow a glimpse of what Orchard Road was – a taxi office at 1 Orchard Road for example and a provision shop at 223 (photo from 1965).

There are other themes that could be explored and some are seen in the slide show below, not least what is acceptable in advertising now as opposed to ‘then’. Still not convinced about Durian Jam though.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Whilst the entire show is not given over to colonial theme, it is a focus.  This may be due to design, but it also probably stems from what is in the National Collection.  A dominant focus is commerce (as the second issue of the Straits Times and its shipping (and retail advertisements) show) and commerce was obviously a colonial occupation.  Voices of others – for example the consumers of the stores, grand or especially otherwise – are routinely not heard and have been lost.

20181004_174123

I have made a linked point before in discussion of my Argos catalogues.  Viewed as ephemera by the British Library, they were deemed unworthy of presentation.  But what a window on changing products and consumers they can provide.  Choices of inclusion or exclusion will set challenges for the future.

If you are in, or passing through, Singapore, go along and take a look.  You might, like us, bump into one of the designers/curators of the exhibition.  He asked why we were looking at the retail section so intently.  Our answer – we are three retail academics – rather unnerved him I think.  But who knows, perhaps they will think in the future about an exhibition on Singapore’s retail history.  One of my colleagues has thousands of photos from the mid-1980s onwards and can be encyclopaedic on retail changes in the last 30 years.  It would be a shame if this ‘window’ was also lost.

Reference

Thomas D., Fowler S. and V. Johnson (2017) the Silence of the Archive.  Facet Publishing: London.

20181004_173931

Posted in Advertising, Architecture, archives, Department Stores, Historic Shops, History, Retail Change, Retail History, Retailers, Singapore, Urban History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Challenging Times in Food Retailing, continued

The pressures in the food retailing sector – especially for the ‘legacy’ operators – are well known and continue to build. The rise of the discounters (see the last post), the continuing growth of the internet and the consumer demand for convenience all continue to ramp up the pressure.

In recent weeks two examples of a fight-back have emerged, though neither is certain to survive or to have the desired effect.

Tesco have been righting their ship for some years now; a process of range reduction, store closures and mothballing and the focus on core business and customers, including on ‘farm brands’.  The merger with Booker has added another dimension.

But a couple of weeks ago they upped the stakes by opening their long-rumoured discount store.  Jack’s, in a nod to Jack Cohen and his ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ mantra and the company’s origins, opened a couple of stores with up to 15 promised soon. It is too early to see how this will develop (and 15 stores is a pinprick on the scale of Aldi and Lidl) both because the roll out is so experimental (reasonably) and customer reaction remains in the curious and honeymoon period.

A few things strike me from afar – and I have not yet been down to see a Jack’s in operation.  The emphasis on Jack’s brands, as opposed to using the Tesco farm brands, slightly worries me.  It seems to be placing a distance from the core brand – which I understand – but will it work given the offer in Aldi and Lidl?  The store opening pattern seems also rather random, and I wonder about the logistics and how this will work, without being cost additional.  The cost reductions in store development and operations sound reasonable but will they last and deliver what customers want?

It will be interesting to see, and to watch how this develops over time.  Fight back or dead end?

The second slower challenger in the fight-back is the ongoing CMA consideration of the Asda – Sainsbury merger.  As predicted a full investigation will take place.  The initial findings pointed to a huge overlap (430+ locations) where competition would be reduced.  The traditional remedy for this would be a sell-off (to whom?) but the scale of this would likely kill the deal.

Yet, a closer look points to how this is an extreme case.  The methodology used is the traditional one of separate markets.  The full investigation is likely to consider much more carefully market definitions and overlaps.  The exclusion of the discounters from local competition is perverse as is the treatment of convenience stores.  The market has changed and I suspect the CMA will have to reflect this in renewed calculations. Claiming the discounters are not part of the core grocery market is simply absurd now – Jack’s or no Jack’s.

If the CMA do rethink and reanalyse, then the number of overlaps is likely to fall.  How much is not clear, as there will undoubtedly still be some overlaps.  The big question is whether the final ‘sell-off’ number is large enough to scupper the deal?  We have to wait and see.  I remain unconvinced by the lack of any compelling reason for the merger in business and customer terms, beyond scale, and the plans post-merger remain opaque.  But if the CMA does look at the modern food retail market and not a partial construction, then the merger may have moved closer, despite the full investigation headlines and the suggestions of a problem for the merger.

Posted in Aldi, Asda, CMA, Competition, Competition and Markets Authority, Consumer Change, Discounters, Food Retailing, Internet shopping, Jack's, Lidl, Market Shares, Mergers, Networks, Store Closures, Tesco | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Twenty One Years of UK Grocery Market Share

UK Grocery Market Shares are a little dependent on who you believe. In my case, I have chosen one group (initially TNS, subsequently taken over by Kantar) and stuck with them. I have wanted not to focus on the short-term movements, which is what tends to get covered, but to consider the long run trends.

I have covered the resulting graph before but each July I continue to update the annual figures and redraw the graph. we have recently seen the release of the 2018 July figures and so my new graph is below.

UK Grocery Market Share 2018

I won’t rehearse or repeat my previous comments on the early part of the graph and the rise of Tesco and the decline of Sainsbury. Instead I would draw out four more recent issues:

  1. Tesco’s market share continues to slide and is now below that they had in 2004. They remain a dominant feature of the the market, but if Asda/Sainsbury have their combined way, then that could end. This long slow slide is hardly the crisis sometimes portrayed, but it does represent a lost decade for the company.
  2. Asda and Sainsbury have stagnated and swapped position for over 15 years. In the last year Asda stabilised while Sainsbury fell. This though is hardly a compelling case for togetherness – would the sum be less than the parts?
  3. The rise of the discounters continues apace. Aldi and Lidl appear relentless in the graph and their combined market share is nearly 13% i.e. ahead of all bar the “big 3”. Whilst you could add two or three others up to get a bigger number, the pairing of these two makes sense in reflecting how the discounters have shaken the market.
  4. Whilst not on the graph above, but in the Kantar data and press release, Ocado have a market share of 1.2%. Given spatial concentration this is quite interesting. How far can they go?
Posted in Aldi, Asda, Discounters, Food Retailing, Lidl, Market Shares, Retail Change, Sainsbury, Tesco, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Trading Places: our Town and Country Planning Columns

T&CP Journal

In 2012 Anne Findlay and I attempted to take over from Professor Cliff Guy who had provided the Trading Places columns in Town and Country Planning for 12 years.  In the subsequent 6 years we have produced 23 columns, but now feel it is time to hand over to others.   In discussing our leaving we prepared a reflective piece on the themes and issues we have discussed over the period.

Reduced consumer demand, concerns about the economy and the spectre of store closures and job losses have been the constant background to our commentaries.  Together with the rapid, strong, growth of discount retailing in food and non-food and the continuing long-term rise of the internet as a channel of information and distribution, retailing has been faced with a formidable array of challenges.  Seeing Asda and Sainsbury proposing a merger, with Amazon rumoured as a possible disruptor, is something unimaginable a few years ago.  In the main the plight of the retail sector has not been an issue for governments since 2012 (or indeed before, really).  Indeed, in most instances it can be safely argued that they have not cared that much about the sector.  The constantly increasing penalisation of rates and the ever increasing burden of administration and costs have combined to cumulatively hammer away at retail business confidence, resilience and survival.  Add in a rather less than laissez-faire attitude towards an equal taxation field and an absolute blindness towards the taxation and other competitive implications of internet trading, and you can be forgiven for believing this government (and its predecessors) hates shops and shopkeepers, however many ministers it has brought to the party (and then dropped).

Store closures and job losses have been a recurrent backcloth. Announcements recently include Maplin, Toys R Us, Jacques Vert, and House of Fraser.  Add in the Tesco/Booker merger, possibly Asda/Sainsbury and Coop/Nisa (and the Costcutter supply deal) and this restructuring of (especially) the food sector, reflects the rise of the internet and the over-supply of retail space over decades, as well as alterations in consumer behaviour more widely.  Yet, in many places stores are also opening and trade is positive. We sometimes see change confused with calamity (which for those personally involved it is of course).

Our columns have focused on a range of issues around this broad theme of change and on the implications of these for planning.  We have identified four themes across these columns.

Change and Competition

There are many possible angles to the investigation of change and competition.  We have covered the changing grocery shopper and the ways in which behaviours are altering to focus more on convenience and also on the internet.  The impact of this has been covered through the decline and closure of stores and the impact this has on towns.  Closures however also add trade and opportunities for other businesses in some cases.  At the other extreme, we have also focused on more temporary and transient retailing which seeks to engage the consumer in more interesting ways.  Our examples have been drawn from farm shops and from pop-up shops, both of which bring a point of differentiation to the consumer and to the town.

Retail Space

Over the last four decades there has been a rapid growth of retail space, much of it in new sites and developments.  The restructuring of the retail sector has had many dimensions and the focus has often been, as noted above, on closures.  However there are also a range of other adjustments that are components of this restructuring.  In this regard we have looked at the change and resilience of local parades of shops at one level and at the dynamic change in some retail parks on the other.

Town Centres and Towns

One of the main casualties of this restructuring and the alteration of patterns of shopping and consuming has been the traditional high street.  Our focus here has been mainly on the various reviews that were carried out at the time of the start of our tenure of this column and the remedies and solutions proposed in each.  In England Mary Portas was asked to look at the high street.  A rival, independent review, also focused mainly on England – the Grimsey Report (and its new update).  In Scotland the Fraser Review covered the requirement for a National Review of Town Centres, and a live policy debate and actions have ensued.  As we have argued, this distinction between high street and town centre is an important one.  If you conceive the issue as being a retail one, then retail solutions get proposed and are often doomed to fail.  If the problem is framed as a place based one or a town centre one, then the breadth of the problems, but also the potential solutions, are greater.  Towns are so much more than retailing.  This theme and the issues it raises of the ‘failure’ of local authorities and town managers and the need for new solutions (a very Grimsey theme) often private or community led, such as town teams, BIDs or in part development trusts, is one that continues to be a focus of attention.  There is no one perfect solution, and certainly not one based on retail alone, but the broader issues are now at least better understood and considered, especially we would argue in Scotland.

One of the key elements of this consideration of town centres has been the almost unanimous criticism of the rates system, whether we see it as medieval or as an analogue solution in a digital world.  In town centres this is felt with a rare passion, which we covered, in that they feel adversely singled out when compared with out-of-town or online businesses.  This running sore is not ameliorated by rebate and other schemes.  The system is out of date and not fit for purpose.

Social Impact

Our final theme is perhaps a more controversial one.  Retailers and aspects of the retail sector are now being questioned on, or co-opted for, social engagement or social impact.  There has been an emerging recognition that the practices of retailers are not somehow miraculously socially neutral.  There are again many dimensions of this but we have touched on the role of bookmakers and on retailers and obesity.  In terms of bookmakers there is a distinct whiff of moralising, but their agglomeration is hard to wave off.  But why should the planning system be forced to mop up a social issue?  And one that has in many ways been brought on by the government’s prior decisions.  In considering obesity we looked at a similar issue; should planning be co-opted to try to alter the diet and health of communities?

 

What though does this period say about the future for retailing?  It is easy to get despondent with all the gloom and the closures.  Yet, there are great retailers expanding and growing. Stores continue to open; consumers continue to seek solutions to their needs. Independent retailers across the country are developing their, and place-based, distinctiveness. There is much to look forward to, especially if the worst excesses of recent decades can be removed. It is a restructuring rather than a replacement of retail.

A fuller version of this column can be found here.

Posted in Academics, Alcohol, BIDS, Bill Grimsey, Bookmakers, Consumer Change, Consumers, Farm Shops, Food Retailing, Government, High Streets, Internet shopping, Mary Portas, Places, Planning, Pop-Up Shops, Proactive Planning, Rates, Resilience, Retail Change, Retail Parks, Retail Planning, Retail Policy, Social Inequality, Town & Country PLanning, Town Centre Review, Town Centres, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Towns on the Policy Map: Understanding Scottish Places (USP) and Data

As an academic, I probably have an irrational interest in data.  To a great extent it is academic life-blood and I seem to have spent a lot of my adult life either obsessing or arguing over it.  It therefore really upsets me when so much of the ‘debate’ about retailing, towns and high streets makes sweeping assumptions about, and from, inadequate, or rather vaguely defined, data. (This is not a new theme for me – see a previous post on here)

To give another recent example from the Herald: in late July they ran a piece entitled ‘Demand to save our high streets as Scotland loses 16,000 retail jobs in seven years’.  This was based around a ‘discovery’ by the Scottish Retail Consortium.  I tried to ‘discover’ the research and data on which this is based.  I pretty much failed as beyond a press release I could not find the definitions or analysis on which the Herald report is based.

So, what can we learn from the Herald piece?

  • The data is Local Authority data: despite the headline it is not town data nor high street data;
  • It covers 2008-2015, which is a really odd period to be covering, matching the deepest recession we’ve seen, so what should we expect (and given the changing nature of consumer behaviour and of retailing);
  • It refers to jobs, with no focus on the type of employment e.g. part-time (which is not unknown in retailing) and there is no consideration that some retail jobs are being switched into distribution and recorded there e.g. Amazon. The jobs data are also rounded to the nearest hundred it would seem.

Now, the SRC can not be held responsible for the headline (though on the SRC web there is an alignment of large retailers with high streets in another piece). This has though all the hallmarks of a campaign story, especially given the SRC focus on business rates – as they are quoted in the article “more action, including scrapping plans to charge extra business rates on out-of-town shopping centres“.

Hang on: how does reduced costs for out-of-town retailers help the high street, the headline of the article?

Now this is not to single out the SRC and the Herald in particular; this is just the latest example (and the one I had to hand) of a carelessness in the use of data and terminology. The “high street” is not the same as “retail”. “Local authorities” are not the same as “towns”. “Retail” is no longer the same as “shops”. “Retailers” are not only “Multiple or chain retailers”. We do everyone a dis-service by not being more careful. Retail is going through tough and changing times and we need to be clear what we require and what we value. But, blanket generalisations on data that is not covering what it seems is not the way to go.

Another example would be the BBC coverage of the latest Next results where it is described as the “high street chain” (tell that to the people of Dumfries) thus ignoring the locations of many of the Next stores and their strong online business. Indeed the discrepancy between store and online performance was the real story in the results.

These definitions and data matter for many reasons, but not least because if we are going to understand the issues – and then the solutions – we need to be honest about the data and what it relates to, and what it does not.

Data about and for towns was one of the key points in the Fraser Review of Town Centres and it recurs in the recently published Grimsey Review 2.  Much of the Grimsey Review 2 covers well-trodden ground, but in its call for a focus on towns and place it remains consistent and correct.

But, how can we expect leadership on towns when we don’t collect basic data on towns in anything like a rigorous, consistent and coherent way?  The Grimsey Review call for proper town data (and this means moving away from meaningless local authority levels for this purpose) is not a simple task.

Just how complicated and time-consuming it can be to build the basic blocks for this is shown in our recently published article in Scottish Affairs on “Putting Towns on the Policy Map: Understanding Scottish Places (USP)”.  The Grimsey Review 2 is very positive about Scotland’s approach and the role of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Understanding Scottish Places.  What it possibly misses is the effort it takes and the difficulties in sticking to data standards.

Our article outlines the process of development and the principles of Understanding Scottish Places including those of data requirements.  For me, this is fundamental: we can’t sensibly talk about towns unless we collect data on towns on a comparable and consistent basis.  Then we can have more realistic conversations about what is happening, what specific places are like and can achieve, and how our country of towns is made up.

The sad fact is that too little of our data is structured in this way, but we are getting there and USP offers a platform and approach to help start such conversations. It does not solve the problems of data and coverage but is an attempt to be consistent and comparable. What we do not need a casual equivalence of high streets with retail and towns with local authorities, which masks the issues we should be addressing.  If we want towns to flourish then a start might be to collect and analyse data on towns, with agreed definitions and boundaries. Anything else is open to fudge and mis-appropriation.

Reference

Findlay A., Jackson M., McInroy N., Prentice P., Robertson E. and L. Sparks (2018) Putting Towns on the Policy Map: Understanding Scottish Places (USP).  Scottish Affairs, 27, 3, 294-318.  DOI: 10.3366/scot.2018.0245. www.euppublishing.com/toc/scot/27/3

Let me know if you have difficulty getting hold of a copy of the paper or if you want to discuss any aspect of it.

Posted in Academics, Bill Grimsey, Consumer Change, Data, High Streets, Internet shopping, Large Store Levy, Leadership, Local Authorities, Online Retailing, Rates, Retail Change, Retailers, Sales, Scotland's Town and High Streets, Scottish Retail Consortium, Scottish Retailing, Shop Numbers, Town Centre Review, Town Centres, Towns, Uncategorized, Understanding Scottish Places | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Damaged Goods

DamagedGoods-cover400__82365.1530270526.462.464

As Private Eye put it, serialised exclusively across all newspapers, this book says that Philip Green is not a nice person.  “Quelle surprise” as they may say in Croydon.  But on the other hand, Oliver Shah is the Sunday Times journalist who broke the BhS story and who Philip Green threatened to kill. His book has been eagerly awaited.

Partly sly gossip, frequently sweary and profane, often with threats of violence, Damaged Goods is a detailed account of the rise and fall (repeat a few times) of Philip Green (PG or SPG depending on your view) and his business ‘colleagues’ and behaviours.  Lots of sources  on the record (and more than a few anonymous sources who are not), the author’s relationship (or at least a channel) of sorts to PG, and some detailed research allows Oliver Shah to paint a picture of Philip Green and his business dealings.

This portrait is pretty ugly; though Shah at times seems to enjoy the chase and point and counter point with PG.

It would be all too easy to focus on the character of the central “villain”, and there are plenty of other reviews out there (e.g. Guardian, Financial Times, CityAM), that dwell on some of the more unsavoury aspects of the affair and the more sensational episodes, but that wasn’t the message I took from the book.  For me the book further exposes a whole series of corruptions at the heart of British business.

These include the:

  • Sheer nastiness of many of the protagonists
  • Cosiness between some journalists, analysts and business people, with the sense it is all a “game”
  • Financial rotating merry-go-round and its lack of grounding in the real world, and the constant search for the next short-term deal and the best way to screw the “other side”
  • Asset-stripping and pursuit of personal wealth at everyone else’s expenses (especially those working in stores and retail generally)
  • Lifestyle obscenities of the rich and famous and the ‘hangers-on’ (and some of those in this book might surprise you, and hopefully they are now embarrassed – though I doubt it)
  • Shady characters on the side-lines funding (often without declaring their interests, –  and regulators should be taking a hard look at this) and cheering on.

Overwhelmingly the sense I got was of a system out of control, predicated on property values and personal greed, with a total disregard for ordinary people who work in the stores and shops, and the consumers they serve.  They simply didn’t matter and were playthings of the rich and more powerful (or as I have put it previously – the (monetary) rich and (in)famous).

In that previous 2016 blog I wrote:

“The ways in which BhS was the plaything of the rich, as laid out by the fall out from administration and liquidation is genuinely astonishing. Treated as a private cash cow by the owners and in my view, some of the advisors, auditors, consultants and other hangers on, the grubby story shows the employees, pensioners, some managers and now the public purse being taken as mugs. Staff have been shafted by the greedy, rapacious behaviours of a number of people and firms.”

Oliver Shah’s book places the BhS story in the longer run context and adds a wealth of detail. The bottom line  conclusion should be the same though: the system and individuals are out of control and are getting away with “murder” (not literally despite the death threats). Regulators need to step in, toughen up and force transparency.

But in reading beyond the detail  a different sense came into focus for me. The parallels with Brexit and Trump seem all too real.  The people involved and their characteristics and faux concerns, the pursuit of personal gain at an obscene level, the outright lies and denials and the incitement to polarise, denigrate and demean are common threads. This set of broader behaviours have been normalised and in that sense PG is no different to Johnson, Farage, Rees-Mogg and Gove. Read in that light the behaviours are all too familiar and all too damaging.

After a detailed expose of the BhS pension scandal and the unravelling of PG and Bhs, Oliver Shah ends with a cautionary chapter which focuses on Top Shop and Arcadia. He points out the collapse in sales and profits, the desperation to sell (denied) and the pensions black hole (possibly twice that of BhS).  He sees BhS as the “starter” and Top Shop and Arcadia as the main course, with the scale of the latter dwarfing what has gone before. In short this story (and PG’s responsibilities) has some way still to run.  It is a catastrophe in the making for thousands (and in passing the BBC at least focused on the workers of Poundworld in a recent retail collapse story, which stood out as it made such a change).

The book also went to press prior to the news that Steve Denison, the PWC partner had been banned from practice for 15 years, fined £500k and PWC fined £10m for their shoddy work on BHS. Apparently a cursory two hours in what passes for audit and due diligence in these rarified circles. Cozy or what?

Damaged Goods is worth a read, but it is truly appalling – not as a book but for the system and behaviours it documents.  The whole thing stinks, but I’m not holding my breath for things changing any time soon, as it is whole approach that needs to change.  Till the next scandal …..

Reference

Shah O (2018) Damaged Goods: The inside story of Sir Philip Green, the Collapse of BHS and the Death of the High Street.  Portfolio Penguin.

PS: I have no idea who thought it was right to add the sub-clause to the title (the death of the high street)- the book is not about that in any real sense and it smacks of bandwagon jumping, which is not required given the subject matter at its heart.

Posted in BHS, Employees, Finance, Government, Leadership, Legislation, Pensions, Philip Green, Politicians, Regulation, Retail Failure, Retail leadership, Shareholders, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment