Business Leaders Turn Into Master Jugglers to Stay Ahead In Today's Tough Retail and FMCG Sectors According to New Research from Boxwood

Share Article

Leaders across the retail and FMCG sectors face dropping the ball as they struggle to balance competing priorities within their businesses. Four hard years of recession have seen all the fat trimmed from their business operations and survival now depends on a mix of psychological as well as strategic factors.

News Image
This study is a fascinating insight into how leaders are adapting their leadership styles as they transform their businesses during the most prolonged downturn in living memory.

A major survey and research initiative by Boxwood, the award winning management consultancy and Planet Retail, the leading retail analysts, launched today at the World Retail Congress reveals the extent of the struggle as leaders strive to be both consistent and agile, to deliver the core business proposition while expanding into new areas and maintain an inspiring and engaging face to staff and customers.

With contributions from Fat Face, Boots, Kingfisher and John Lewis Partnership among others, the research is a clear insight into how top retailers are positioning to win in an increasingly uncertain market.

“How fast can you lead change when people are facing the current market conditions? People are hunkering down just at the time you need them to open up their thinking and break the vicious cycle.” – Benet Slay, CEO Carlsberg UK

One of the clearest themes to emerge was the need for leaders to strike the right balance between short-term needs and long-term growth opportunities. With core markets shrinking the pressure on businesses to find new ways of achieving short-term revenue and profit targets has increased. On the other hand, leaders are acutely aware of the need to invest in the future. Creating capacity for change, staying ahead of the competition and accessing cash to invest in the future all featured in the list of leadership challenges.

It’s a difficult balancing act. Focusing too much on future growth risks damaging the core proposition and intensifying the pressure on short-term targets. Yet leaders are well aware of competitors that have been overtaken by step changes in consumer preferences or superior propositions.

Less is more, particularly in tough times when businesses cannot afford to waste any resource. Leaders are responding to this by ensuring that there is a very clear view of where revenue, growth and profit come from in the business and focusing the efforts of their people on these areas. In this environment, what you choose not to do is as important as what you do.

Senior leaders know they cannot succeed alone, therefore a strong senior team and engaged staff to carry it through are essential. 41% of respondents identified aligning the senior team to take action as their most important challenge, 31% identified senior management succession, and 28% identified attracting and retaining talent as their most pressing issue.

“You are competing on a global stage now with extraordinarily capable people. It’s not just about winning the Premiership, you are competing in the Champions League, playing against the AC Milans and Real Madrids of the world – you must be one fantastic team playing total football.” - Alex Gourlay, CEO Health & Beauty, Boots

Commenting on the findings, Matt Clark Director of Consumer at Boxwood said: “This study is a fascinating insight into how leaders are adapting their leadership styles as they transform their businesses during the most prolonged downturn in living memory. They really are becoming master jugglers as they attempt to deliver their core proposition successfully while not missing out on the opportunity to future-proof their businesses by embracing new channels and technology. On a personal level they are finding the top job a lonely place where they need to provide constant motivation for others, when they themselves maybe struggling to remain positive. In the darkest hour, they must have the biggest smile and keep encouraging the troops.

“Expected to be consistent and authentic in the vision they deliver to staff in order to be trusted and believable, they need to be agile enough to know when to change course and exploit opportunity. It’s tough at the top, never more so than now, but leaders are adapting, and the best jugglers could turn out to be the overall winners.”

For further information please visit or contact us to receive the full report "Winning – Leading Successful Business Transformation"

Requests for interview and further information:

Christian Mahne / Lindsay Vetch
Vetch Mahne Ltd: 020 3488 3100

Notes to editors:
About Boxwood
Boxwood ( works with carefully selected organisations to design and implement business transformation programmes that deliver sustainable bottom line results. We achieve this by bringing together our extensive industry knowledge and functional expertise with our partner’s in-depth knowledge of their business. Our approach is to work in joint teams with our clients from the outset, building internal capability to ensure that business performance continues to improve long after we have departed.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Christian Mahne / Lindsay Vetch
Follow us on
Visit website