• APPG Textiles & Fashion

Minutes on 01/05/19 for The Future of High Streets and Online Shopping











  6. Tamara introduces herself and informs meeting that Lisa is running 10 mins late and introduces first speaker – Professor Will Jennings

Professor Will Jennings – Political and Social Scientist from CENTRE OF TOWNS

  1. WJ explains what he does and gives fast intensive slide show starting with:

  2. What Centre of Towns does as a non partisan organisation providing research and analysis for our towns

  3. Growing political divide is different between small towns and cities

  4. Looks at geographical location, economic geography and huge progress of cities with side effects and consequences

  5. Data driven by social and economic issues and by place and people (ie identity, heritage, community

  6. Identity is key issue feeling represented or not eg. Bolton – small ex-industrial town

  7. Typography of villages small medium towns and cities is very different.

  8. Divided into 6 Characteristics:

Ex-industrial towns

Coastal towns

New towns

Market towns

University towns

  1. Statistics and graphs from slide show core cities dominate

  2. Asks:

Why care?

What are the challenges?

What can be done?

  1. More slides with statistics show – changing patterns of employment most significant is:

  2. Medium towns seen biggest drop in manufacturing

  3. Large towns seen biggest growth in retail

  4. Large Med and Small towns seen big drop in manufacturing very recently not just consequence of Thatcher

  5. Store closures in towns has provided acute issue: e.g. M&S 92% closures in towns (35 of 37) and banks 50% closures (353 out of 700) 186 of 200 Post Offices closing in large towns

  6. Growing divide – Cities – generally young diverse creative and liberal creating different type of consumer with more Labour voters, more university graduates, less likely to own their own home, socially liberally and relaxed about social change. On the other hand Towns – are conservative, less diverse, need more care for ageing population, hence less footfall in shops, less likely to attend university and tend to be uneasy about issues like immigration and socially more conservative in their views

  7. Old age dependency Graph – since 1981 big divergence of core cities that have younger population to towns where population is older. The exception to this is University Towns. Market towns have seen the biggest increase in ageing population

  8. Skills and Education Graph – More Graduates in cities than villages therefore work force very different according to place. Transport much better in University towns than Ex-Industrial towns e.g. Oldham ( ex-industrial) has 37% with no qualifications compared with Brighton (University) has much higher qualified population with 39% of population being educated to graduate level

  9. London has a big pull on graduates to come and work in the capital. It employs 22% of new graduates and 38% of those with !st or 2:1 degrees

  10. London’s older population are moving out to the home counties or commuter belt

  11. Broadband connection and download speeds slower outside big cities

  12. Deprivation in Ex industrial cities is the worst for income, employment, health, education and skills

  13. Big rise in Foreign direct investment in core cities but not in towns

  14. Citizens perception – Towns less well off core cities better off

  15. Dynamics driving trends:

Aggregate Economics

Infrastructure – Better connectivity

Higher Education – Exodus of young graduates

Internal migration – Poor health, unemployment, bad housing

  1. What can be done?

Improved transport and connectivity

Training and Education to reduce skills gap

Housing – to reflect ageing population

Environmental – take the opportunities afforded by the countryside close to many towns

Cultural Capital – to make towns more attractive places to live especially for the young

Lower cost business rates to make towns more attractive to investors

Investment in business (eg FDI) to catalyse the economy, leading to inflow of work force and more spending

Fix the skills gap – more local training schemes and more graduates to return to towns after university

Devolution model – one that reflects real demand for more control from people in towns and not focus on just core cities

WJ Suggests visiting website for further information:



Lisa arrives and stresses how important this is and wants slides passed on as we need regeneration and support to the Retail Sector

Thanks Tamara for pulling it together for the most popular and hardworking APPG

Lisa introduces Bev

Bev Malik – Fashion Retail Expert at Fashion Roundtable

  1. BM reads her script – Introduces what she does and has always worked in retail. Her observations are:

  2. Increased shift in brands going direct to consumer

  3. State of retail – weathering retail armageddon

  4. KPMG – Score only 77 historical low 76

In 2018 2400 stores closed

Bricks and mortar are down

Fashion biggest losers 104 units down followed by Pubs 99 down

  1. Causes:

Fashion – Brexit uncertainty and confidence

British brands suffered bad PR

Staffing supply chain

Consumer concerns – ageing population

Fashion is not a necessity it’s a desire

Online challenges it is not cookie cutter model

Rapid delivery from online

Hard to Omin retail

  1. Smaller Bricks and Mortar businesses are suffering more and being left behind

  2. CEO of larger stores are not picking up on service

  3. Visiting M&S in Marble Arch for her father – they no longer have full size range anymore because they steer customers to buy online for sizes unavailable in store. Older customers are not online shoppers so are being left behind and service is lost

  4. Product and consumer are badly matched. They are not listening to the customer

  5. Risk aversion happens

  6. Consumer transparency is a pleasure demarker

  7. Leeds students buying very differently from London

  8. Brexit is soother of woe

  9. Shop in sale Black Friday mid season not before

  10. Luxury market is too reliant on ME and Asia – all eggs are in one basket and not future proof. It is vital but masks income from other sources

  11. Super Brands and Super winners make up just 20 e.g. LVMH and NIKE at the top but little or no backing for new or smaller players

  12. To evolve:

B&M (Bricks & Mortar) shops need to provide shopping through pleasure

Selfridges greatest store providing – theatre innovation inspiration experience

Consumer desire – Listen to consumer – story of thought

LVMH – Creating Boutique Hotels for Experience

Engage with customers

Coffee shops doing well because they are engaging

Collaboration – seeds today are not harvested today

Wholesalers looking at retail to give healthier margin and closer contact with customers

Awareness innovation and Engagement

Lisa introduces Frances:

Frances Card – Advisor to Fashion Roundtable former COO to Matches

  1. FC

Going to disagree a bit with Bev as I am more positive – I love it

Lucky place is online

Reversal of online to B&M (Bricks &Mortar) even Amazon going B&M

Big Change but positive

Sustainability – Block Chain ( bit confused)

We have evoled in our Industry

How? – When we had mail order that was difficult creating a different market place because of logistics etc.

In 2000 the internet arrived – not work so well because of the crash

Online tried to replicate B&M but it didn’t work.

Brilliant Sale person has a vocation – they are retails best asset but paid mini wage but know what customer wants how much they will spend and can offer alternative choice etc. This is not possible online – How do I buy for internet? B&M and online same but v different

Moving business into online for Matches HN and Liberty we were able to access the world

Lots of issues interacting with customer online

How do we use PR? photography?

It was great evolution – only windows available online

No need to open B&M today – No need for security guards on the door for instance so reduces costs

We made lots of mistake

Tamara interjects and reminds FC only couple minutes left

FC – Let online have its own personality – social media has released the online market

Tricky thing – relationship with stock because how do you buy for it to be delivery in 50mins

Skill set for retail has evolved – Customers in Uni towns with degrees are more intricate

Need to create separation between Online and B&M – average order traffic and conversion

‘Maisy’ – build data bases so we can see what they were buying – they were equity metrics have changed

Returns – how do we not get returns – online can see what comes back

Out of 19 online purchases 17 come back

How do we reduce and manage returns

  1. The Future:

Farfetch – online store

FDI (stock control)

Lisa adds that she has been invited by the APPG for Block Chain. This is so good to attend because she does not knows herself what it is. She also mentions:

  1. Innovative – recycling clothes bin in Houses of Parliament

  2. Going to Copenhagen

  3. Going to V&A

There is great interest in this

Lisa introduces:

Anne Alexandre RSM Manager British Retail Consortium

  1. AA – It is good to look at real retailers – uses slides and graphs for presentation

  2. KPMG is Sales monitor – we give back information of what is sold

  3. 3 things influence this: Environment Digital Policy for Retail

Shows graphs that focus on last 3yrs

  1. Brexit – £ has dropped

  2. Low real wage last year had negative growth just clawed back to 1% growth this year

  3. Inflation on food seen big increase but declined after last year

  4. Non food slowing down – constraint on food spending means less to spend on non food

  5. In last 2yrs food took lion share

  6. Clothing and footwear in last 2 yrs growth is flat

  7. Challenging environment since 2016 – Negative growth and only growth from online overall

  8. 26% growth online in last 10yrs but might not continue at that rate – there is more to stores than B&M and online

  9. Shift from Store to Online has seen big growth but there is stagnation

  10. Fashion has decelerated especially for stores and continuing

  11. Fulfilment has boomed from stores to online

  12. Warehousing is 24% higher

  13. Online on non food is going down – GDPR to do things a bit differently being one factor – Online has its own problems

  14. Clothing Sales over year Christmas and Black Friday and June both online and store are same

  15. Revenue 3% Wages10% Business Rate 8% means more costs

  16. CVA cutting costs going to lenders – BRC 9%

  17. Retail bears the heavy burden of business taxes


Brexit – concerns how import export taxes and tariffs will change

Business Rates – sometimes free will it continue

Employment – better training for jobs etc

Lisa – We have put written questions forward in parliament for policy for those interested in this APPG. We did learn about CVAs and business rates and changes. We need to make Fashion from Fashion and Retail a priority.

Lisa introduces –

Charlotte Taylor-Phillip Senior Public Affairs Adviser at the Federation for Small Businesses

CTP – Introduces herself and explains role and function of FSB and how it represents its 170,000 members

  1. In last 20yrs seen irreversible change. The arrival of Amazon and other online services provides a new competitor of which we have not seen before. The retail sector and small businesses will never be the same

  2. Issues like rising business rates and soaring employment costs are out of control of small businesses

  3. British Retail Consortium (BRC) analysis estimates 9000 less jobs in retail by 2025 with women taking the brunt of these losses

  4. Add Brexit to the domestic picture with its continued uncertainty lowers small business confidence

  5. FSB is neutral re Brexit however a No deal could seriously damage small businesses and we therefore supporting a transition period, whatever happens

  6. 5th of businesses trade overseas, overwhelmingly with EU and will need to adapt to new procedures etc after Brexit

  7. 1 in 5 small businesses employs someone from the EU – settlement system is complicated as I have just been through it with my husband

  8. Administration burdens will stop small businesses trading overseas (1 in 10 said so) and turn down opportunities to trade in new market because of lack of access to skilled workers to grow business

  9. Uncertainty continues and concerned by reports that larger businesses are passing on risks to smaller businesses through their supply chains

  10. UK Shared Prosperity Fund provides regional funding and support to business – this is all on Hold until we leave EU

  11. Small Business Confidence Index provided worrying results:

Confidence is at lowest level since Index began 9ys ago

9 in 10 small businesses are not planning to take on new staff

Exports are at record low


  1. Click and collect is growing and increases footfall

  2. Independent retailer is increasing particularly in outlet services

  3. Consumer needs are changing and so too town centres which gives new opportunity for small business to take advantage

  4. 75% small local retailers had no online presence – this is opportunity for them to access global markets

  5. FSB has worked with Government to reform Business Rates that are complicated bureaucratic and restrictive e.g. Relief is provided for small business on first site but then has heavy business rates to pay on a second site when a business grows – this does not encourage small businesses to grow

  6. Lack of free parking and local infrastructure is big issue for small business 65% of small business view their van or car as crucial for their business

  7. Lack of access to cash machines and banks has negative impact on consumer and businesses

  8. Looking to protect Post Office network and build banking services into this network

Be positive there is no quick fix and it needs joint effort from central and local government. Small business community is resilient and confident that we will see new businesses starting and existing ones growing despite the many issues that they face.

Lisa – Query raised about finish time 3pm not 3.30pm. Please do email with question and will put it forward – Tamara will share data via Fashion Roundtable

Lisa – we talk cars every other day in parliament but Fashion is key industry

Close 14:55 and we all fled the room as a stampede for the next meeting flooded in Lol!

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