Reshaping the Sector

The Consumer and Retail sectors play a daily role in life; they are also very significant contributors to UK Plc, supporting 9% of the nation’s employees (ONS) and adding nearly £100bn to GDP (BRC). In recent years, the consumer markets have been facing a combination of unprecedented challenges in the face of pronounced market shifts including digitisation, globalisation, demographic change, maturing economies versus emerging markets.

There are additional complexities to consider too. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated ecommerce growth in almost all markets, with UK spend growing 24% in the year to June 2021, and the channel largely holding onto its share gains from the big online transition of 2020 (Kantar). Furthermore, the UK is seeing long-term structural issues in its labour market beginning to impact on all areas of the consumer-facing sectors, with significant shortages leading to staffing issues and wage pressure, as well as logistics failures.

Our Approach

As we learn to adjust to a post-COVID landscape, which has arguably impacted the consumer-facing sectors more than any other, the challenge, risks and rewards are particularly acute. For every organisation - whether large or small, global or local - ensuring the right leadership, structure and culture is more important than ever before.

In addition to Executive Search, Amrop UK supports clients across multiple areas of their talent strategy, whether they are engaging in Leadership Assessment and DevelopmentBoard Services and Leadership Advisory, including Talent benchmarking, Succession Planning, Team Diagnostics, In-Depth Mapping, Role Competency Planning, Compensation Studies, Organisational Design and Diversity Planning. 

We work closely with clients in the cost-effective, robust and sustainable deployment of local, regional and global talent solutions across all consumer subsectors, including:
1Consumer Products & Services

Consumer behaviours and preferences were already in the process of changing, with online playing an increasing role in their choices and transactions; during the pandemic, huge numbers of consumers shifted their spend online, with in-home FMCG spend increasing by 7.2% (Kantar). This changes the nature of their relationship with both brands and shops, impacting in turn on business’s go-to-market strategies and capabilities. More recently, supply chain pressures, labour and logistics shortages have caused additional challenges within the system. As a consequence, industry players are recalibrating: how they segment consumers, prioritize channels, establish product portfolios, position their brands, and deploy service models. Our clients increasingly depend on online and omnichannel as a means of reaching and engaging consumers even in sectors with traditionally low e-commerce penetration. This brings with it difficult questions around building the optimum organisational structure, capability and culture.

We work with our clients to help them answer these questions, ensuring that they have the right leaders in the right roles at the right time.

2Leisure, Travel & Hospitality

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Economic Impact Report, in 2019, the industry contributed over 10% of UK GDP. In 2020, this fell to 4.2%. Whilst the sector – along with the rest of the economy – is recovering more quickly than anticipated, with spend in cafes and restaurants now back to pre-pandemic levels thanks to strong domestic demand, there is still significant rebuilding and rebalancing required; one example is that the move towards meal delivery services and ecommerce seems set to continue. Pre-pandemic demographic and technology were already driving huge shifts across the landscape. The crisis will now undoubtedly reshape the whole industry: health and safety have become issues as never before, the further development of technologies with a special focus on artificial intelligence continue apace; managing cross-regional economic and political conditions; shifting focus to food delivery; and sustainability. In the UK, long-term structural labour and logistics challenges are certainly adding to the complexity too.

Amrop recognizes the growing need for leaders capable of supporting the needs of the industry as it recovers, identifying and addressing rapid shifts in both market conditions and consumer demands and expectations.

3Retail, Digital & Direct to Consumer

In the retail sector, Covid-19 caused consumer behaviours to change almost overnight, driven by health concerns and limited free access to stores. It also speeded up technological adaption in a way never observed before. The global pandemic proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some players to transform their businesses.

In 2020, total retail sales volumes fell by 1.9% compared with 2019, the largest annual fall on record. The impact on consumer retail sectors has varied with some seeing very large falls from which they have not yet recovered, e.g. clothing and fuel volume sales fell by 21.5% and 22.2% respectively in 2020 (ONS). Retailers must continue to experiment with new delivery methods and new shopping experiences or reposition assets to better meet the digital demand - reorienting every aspect of their business towards a digital commerce mindset.

Amrop works with our clients to delivering the leaders that can rewrite the rules of the sector, positioning to win for the future.