Retail Focus: Independents need to go the extra mile for the Olympics

Since it was announced that the UK was to hold the 2012 Olympics, much has been made of the potential benefits to retailers, by myself and just about everyone else in the industry.

That said, to my knowledge there isn’t a great deal being done in any tangible way by the government or any trade bodies to help retailers prepare for this marathon (sorry!) one-off sales opportunity. Most retailers have the potential to benefit hugely from the Games, but for UK sporting goods retailers, this should be the World Cup times 10.

The Olympics shouldn’t just be the playground of the uberbrands with their multi million sponsorships. Like during World Cups, there are lots of things that small retailers can do to ensure that they enjoy success too.

Simply Sports is an example of one retailer determined to make the Olympics work hard for it. It’s a small chain of two independent sportshops trading from Oxted and Reigate and owned by Adrian Pointer. We were invited to take a look at Adrian’s offer, as he wanted to see what benefit good visual and retail standards could have on his sales in the run up to the Olympics – and crucially for his business, the effect it could have on his team’s motivation and focus during what will be an extremely busy and high pressure time.

In his words: “I knew that my team was as professional as it could be, and I wanted Karl’s team to help us create the space, layout, store presentation and marketing strategy that would reflect our expertise and relevance at this important time for us.”

Adrian had a lot of reasons to make his offer as good as it could be. The Olympic torch will be going through Reigate, and Adidas UK was offering POS and window graphic support, and was happy to work alongside Simply Sports to make their product range look as good as it could instore.

To begin with, we ran a series of Simply Sports coaching and merchandising visits to show the store team some good practice VM skills and teach them how to implement them.

The visits saw us working on the store windows, the space and layout and looking at the selections of product available. We also coached the team to show them how to implement and maintain the above, and helped with the use of graphics and POS and general retail standards.

We then worked with Adrian and Adidas UK representatives to make the most of the space, display and the soft and hard launches of the Team GB Replica Kit range instore.

Adidas won’t be alone in this type of support, with all major sports brands offering POS materials and extra support for their products, and independent retailers need to take advantage and ask their suppliers what they can do for them.

At times like the Olympics, retailers will guarantee increased footfall, but it isn’t time for them to take their foot off the gas, as, in this market, this increase could be the injection that many businesses need to survive. Increased traffic also brings with it the need to maintain standards doubly hard, as disheveled displays won’t show products at their best and consumers won’t be willing to pay that bit more, which means less profit for the retailers.

Adrian is instrumental in communicating the benefits of VM and ‘leading the way’ with his peers. It’s not that Adrian works with us that makes him the type of retailer that others need to try to be, it’s that he looks for help in becoming better at what he does to make the most of opportune sales periods like the Olympics.

Karl on Superbrands

Karl appeared on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire to discuss the merits and methods of the Superbrands list – the 2012 version of which was released today.

During an interview on Annie Othen’s morning show, Karl explained just what makes a Superbrand, and discussed with a jeweller from Coventry how small retail businesses could use some of that magic themselves.

Karl can currently be seen on BBC Two programme The Fixer, alongside businesswoman Alex Polizzi, turning around small family retailers such as Kettley’s Furniture and Courtyard Bridal.

Karl has offered his advice – which is usually given to global brands such as Harley Davidson and Marks & Spencer – to small retailers who are looking to improve their standing on the high street.

If you would like Karl’s advice on how to improve your retail business, please send an email to:

You can listen again to Karl’s interview on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire on the BBC iPlayer by clicking here.