High Street

Lucy Handley is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and has also worked in advertising agencies so can bring a unique perspective to client-agency relationships when writing on this topic.

High street Blog

Blog/response to retail letters in 15 Sept issue

Marketing Week’s cover story ‘How to repair Britain’s crumbling high streets’ published earlier this month attracted a lot of comment online and in the magazine.

While some readers found the five broad points interesting (open an outlet, find a new territory, become an educator, use management by walking around and embrace the virtual high street), others were much less impressed.

Some felt that the feature missed out important solutions, such as working with councils to make shops accessible and parking reasonable, working with government to keep business rates down and to focus more on local consumers. Others said pop-up shops would be a good use of the 16% of retail units that are empty or that more effective online targeting should be used by store brands.

But the feature is based on conversations I had with some of the top retail brands in the country including Morrisons, Aurora Fashions (owner of Coast, Oasis and Warehouse), eBay and Debenhams. EBay’s vice-president for fashion Miriam Lahage, who has a 25-year career in retail, told me that she is talking to fashion brands about each of the five points and they resonated with Mike Shearwood, Aurora’s chief executive.

I take the point that Carpetright is not the best example of a flourishing retailer – it was used to illustrate the idea that businesses should continue training staff in hard times – but the fact that it has stuck to its guns when it comes to training suggests that it values its employees and wants to do better as a retailer.

I also understand that encouraging retailers to use e-commerce more could be thought of as a bit old hat. But some of them are not. Primark, for example, recently denied rumours that it is to start selling online. Given the demand shown by the crowds in the streets when a new store opens, it could be a good idea for it to open an e-shop. I thought this was an important point to make especially given the constant focus retailers give to  being ‘multi-channel’.

And while opening an outlet is clearly not something which happens on a high street itself, the brands that do so find it a useful way to shift stock – via an out-of-town specialist such as McArthurGlen. Arguably, using an outlet will help a retailer to sell more and thus help to protect the whole chain wherever its stores are.

If anyone has further examples of strategies which are helping particular retail brands survive and thrive, let me know vialucy.handley@centaur.co.uk

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here