M&A Network Reception 2014

19 May 2014

Three of the most respected names in retail joined ITV News Editor Lucy Manning to debate the issues affecting the sector at Norwood’s M&A Network reception at the Le Meridien Hotel.

Peter Williams, Chairman of boohoo.com, Louise Barnes, former CEO of Fat Face and Mark Felix, Head of Trading & Content, Food Online at Sainsbury’s, covered topics ranging from big online retailers, to consumer confidence and business rates.

The panel predicted that, if retail property prices fell, we’d soon see more “quirky, independent shops” offering a shopping experience “you can’t get online.” The trend for affordable, high-quality ‘pop-up style’ restaurants shows no signs of slowing, they said, as young people, particularly in the city, now expect to be able to eat out regularly.

The panel talked about the rise of the new ‘department store’ style supermarket, and how high street chains can adapt to compete with online giants such as Amazon. The issue of consumer confidence was also discussed, with the panel agreeing that a shift in consumer thinking means post-recession shoppers are much savvier, and that "it’s now cool to use a voucher.”

The event raised £42,000 for Norwood, a charity which supports vulnerable children, families and people with learning disabilities, at home, at school and throughout their lives.

It was sponsored by SG Hambros, and attended by more than 160 professionals from across the City. The panel debate was followed by an audience Q&A and drinks reception.

Dan Adler, Chair of the M&A Network Committee said: "Thanks to our fantastic guest speakers there was an incredible buzz in the room, and some spirited debate on what the future of both the high street and the online retail economy might look like. This, combined with the audience’s involvement, made for a valuable and insightful event."

"Most importantly the money our sponsors SG Hambros and generous guests raised will make a huge difference to the lives of so many people."

Photographs courtesy of Sharon Green