Change is not without risk

Posted on January 30, 2019 by Di Gillett
Article image: Change is not without risk

Having just celebrated Australia Day, and being married to an Australia Day Ambassador whose parents landed at Station Pier in Melbourne in the late 1940s, I am reminded that being brave, adventurous and taking risks is a common thread across business and our community. Be it pursuing safety or opportunity in a new country, embarking upon a business transformation to remain relevant in an increasingly digital landscape, or female executives pushing through the glass ceiling as they pursue a seat at the Boardroom table – bold decisions are not for the faint-hearted and change is not without risk.

Applying that same lens to the domestic Retail sector as we look to the various retail formats and categories in the domestic market, the landscape is littered with those who are thriving and those who are struggling:

  • Our Department Stores are under increasing pressure to raise the bar on their customer experience, while reducing their physical store footprint and growing their online store capability
  • Grocery is under pressure from dynamic international competitors, while managing the risks around the race to the bottom on price-led strategies
  • Specialty Apparel, Footwear and Accessories are competing against a raft of pressures including rising household expenses impacting discretionary spend, high operating costs and customers who are no-longer brand loyal (who are also spoiled for choice)
  • Consumer Electronics continues to battle price deflation and increasing competition from Amazon

In Australia in 2018 we said goodbye to a number of retailers including: Diana Ferrari, Doughnut Time, John Cootes Furniture, Laura Ashley, Maggie T, Marcs, Max Brenner, Metalicus, Mountain Designs, Payless Shoes, Pumpkin Patch, Roger David, Shoes of Prey, Sumo Salad and Zumbo Patisserie. We also said farewell to AVON, Esprit, GAP and Toys ‘R’ Us from our shores girt by sea.

Yet today consumers are wearing more and more athleisure-wear, personal training studios are popping-up on every corner, crowds flocked to the Australian Open in January and spent money at the extended venues along Melbourne’s Yarra River. Discerning customers continue to queue in our capital cities to shop luxury brands and the reception desks of corporate Australia are forever signing proof of delivery screens for their employees’ latest online purchases. Clearly there are businesses doing something right despite the negative press around consumer confidence in the face of Australia’s political turmoil, the impact of the slow-down of the Chinese economy and the snowball effect of Brexit.

Whether it be climate change, the political environment, a business model or diversity and inclusion just to name a few, we should welcome each challenge as an opportunity and be prepared to take a risk. For without risk, there will be no reward.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who never change their minds, never change anything.”

About Di Gillett

Di Gillett

Di Gillett is a Director of TRANSEARCH International Australia based in Melbourne. Di has over 25 years' experience in executive search and recruitment, including almost 10 years leading the Asia Pacific Retail & Consumer practice for Talent Partners. She was the founder and Managing Partner for Agora Partners from 2015 to 2017. Di's industry knowledge is underpinned by her earlier career on the client-side with two of Australia's leading retailers.

Di Gillett
TRANSEARCH International Australia
Level 7, 15 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9285 5800


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