Blog: Dean BestFainting and falling in London...

Dean Best | 18 March 2009

The leading lights of UK retail have gathered in central London today (18 March) to hear the latest on how the sector is navigating the recession – and it has been, quite literally, an up-and-down day.

Executives from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Spar – as well as a clutch of non-food retailers – have converged on the Hilton London Metropole on London's Edgware Road to discuss the prognosis for the industry.

And, aside, from the usual presentations on the consumer search for value, there have been one or two out-of-the-ordinary interruptions.

First, during a presentation from Justin “I'm an optimist' King, the Sainsbury's CEO, a cameraman was taken ill and, rather unfortunately, fainted. Thankfully, all was well with the cameraman but, as one wag commented, he obviously seemed rather unimpressed with King's upbeat message.

Later, Dr Gordon Campbell, the CEO of Spar International, stumbled into the screen as he partially fell off the back of the stage while giving his presentation. Dr Campbell quickly recovered his composure, ensuring his audience that he “didn't rehearse that last night”.

He ended his presentation with a series of conclusions on Spar's strategy (international expansion and so on) and quipped: “There are great pitfalls out there so you need to look where you're going.” Cue much laughter from the assembled throng.

Aside from the fainting and the falling over, the first day of this year's Retail Week Conference has thrown up some interesting insight on how retailers are navigating the downturn, why some have fallen by the wayside, how consumer behaviour is changing and how the dynamic between supplier and retailer is changing.

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