We took the opportunity during lockdown at the beginning of June to kill two birds with one stone: host our first online event and get together a panel of retail experts to talk about their thoughts on life after lockdown and whether they thought the Covid crisis would change retail forever.
Paul Kraftman, Chairman & Chief Executive, Gift Universe Group
Paul is an experienced retailer, having played a key role as Operations Director and then Managing Director in the development of the electrical retail chain, Tempo. In 2002 Paul founded Gift Universe (formerly Menkind) with a single store in Uxbridge. Over the following years, the business established its position in the niche gadget and gifting retail sector, organically growing through store openings and e-commerce. In August 2015, Gift Universe Group acquired the retail business RED5 and the wholesaler, The Source, and now has unrivalled reach into its market through retail stores nationwide, multiple ecommerce channels and through wholesale distribution to some of the UK’s top retail brands.
Shelley Martin, Co-founder & MD at 4Beauty Group
4Beauty are the brand developers and owners of He-Shi, Skinician and Tantastic. With 16 years’ experience in developing and growing tanning and skincare brands, Shelley leads and oversees the development and growth of 4Beauty Group whilst ensuring the group’s vision and strategy are at the forefront of generating revenue. Last year saw a change in 4Beauty’s strategy to fully develop their D2C channels, including their own websites and Amazon on a seller model.
Julie Wilson, Director and Co-founder of Cheeky Chompers, the innovative British baby business
Julie has had a varied career spanning two continents; she worked in the health and fitness industry in London and Sydney for 8 years and spent more than 19 years as Account Manager/Innovation Manager at Scottish Enterprise, helping businesses innovate, collaborate and achieve growth. Cheeky Chompers is a multi-award-winning brand which has sold in excess of 1.5 million products through more than 1500 retailers around the world (including John Lewis and the White Company) and distributors in 35 countries (including the United States and China), as well as on its own growing e-commerce business and on Amazon worldwide.
We put your questions to the panel in a virtual fireside chat to get their insight into the new retail world as non-essential shops begin the process of opening, with social distancing measures in place, after a lockdown of over two months. Would the balance shift back from online to the high street? Can things return to normal? What was the main thing our guest panellists learned from the lockdown?