Independent retailers are going to be squeezed this year, so they need to focus on their margins if they want their business to remain profitable.

That was the message from John Kinney, retail director of Today’s Group. Speaking to Retail Express, he singled out price-marking and the new living wage initiative as the key challenges facing the channel.

Today's Group retail director said retailers are being squeezed and urged them to look at new ways to grow their business
John Kinney, Today’s Group retail director, said retailers are being squeezed and urged them to look at new ways to grow their business

“Price-marks are really important in our sector and we know consumers love them, the danger is the impact they have on the margins of independent retailers and the incremental sales that are required just to stand still,” he said. “We are working closely with suppliers to ensure we have the appropriate retail selling prices. We should also be conscious of the race to the bottom as this is not in the interests of the sector.”

On the living wage rise, he recommended retailers look at all the factors they have control over, such as their operational efficiencies, hours and schedules.

“Retailers need to look at new ways to grow their business through incremental activity that will support margin,” he said.

“The great solution would be to sell your way out of the problem. It’s not just about cost saving, it’s about how can you grow your business to absorb that cost.”

He said Today’s Group would help its retail members make sure their business is sustainable, assisting them with ranging and promotional strategies, including promoting them on digital platforms, and understanding what they can do to bolster their bottom lines.