What happened to the Arcadia Group?

So…Arcadia Group…That just happened!

Now, whilst I’m undoubtedly a fan of The Kinks, anyone who’s met me knows I’m no ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’.  In light of which, I’ll endeavour to keep my comments, as ever, evidence-based.

Whilst Arcadia’s management may be wondering; ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone’, without trying to hold myself out as a retail mogul, a cursory glance at today’s business news, combined with a moderately diligent retail/marketing sector research effort leaves us wondering how the retail empire run (but not owned) by Sir Philip Green, once ‘A Well Respected Man’ and the sector’s one-time ‘Wonderboy’, has lasted this long!

So, the TL;DR is immediately below but, read on for the moral of the story.

  • Arcadia leadership failed to adopt newer, technology-driven techniques to drive customer engagement – reportedly even actively resisting it!
  • As a result, spurned the opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of what the customer wanted.
  • Retained too many bricks and mortar stores, and crucially, their associated costs, for far too long.
  • Got left behind in the rise of ‘online-only’ competitors such as ASOS, boohoo and Pretty Little Thing (vaguely interestingly, now wholly owned by boohoo).

Almost no investment in digital

According to former Marks and Spencer chairman, Paul Myners: “Covid has obviously been a significant factor but the truth is this group of brands has been haemorrhaging now for 15 years. It’s become an insignificance.

“Sir Philip never really accepted the opportunity or challenge of online trading. He made no investment in that area at all.”

The decline of the high street has also been a long-time coming which, for me, makes the acquisition of additional brands with huge footprints on the high street teamed with that reluctance to invest in digital all the more baffling!

After all, can any organisation honestly say they’ve relied on, or spent less on technology overall, year-on-year?

Rise of ‘online only’ competitors

ASOS markets and ranks highly across virtually all digital channels, engages established social media influencers for sponsored posts, so-called ‘micro-influencers’ (with typically under 10k followers) using ‘sponsored accounts’, and their own customers, who create their own original content that promotes the product.

Boohoo spent £116.8m on marketing campaigns in the year to 29 February 2020 – almost 10% of its total sales. Clearly also proving successful as, according to research by polling firm YouGov in May, 11% of 18 to 24-year-olds had purchased something from Boohoo in the previous three months.

According to a confirmation statement uploaded to companies house merely days ago, PrettyLittleThing.com is actually now owned entirely by boohoo so, whilst PLT was founded by the son of the Manchester-based boohoo co-founder, both brands are now firmly under the same umbrella and their marketing strategies will no-doubt share a similarly digitally-focused core.

These fashion giants have a combined total of literally zero stores.

Other examples of short-sightedness toward technology-based innovations include:

  • Blockbuster failed to adapt to the rise of content available on-demand, initially by post, later online, and worse still; passed on the chance to buy Netflix in the early days!
  • Kodak, founded in 1888(!) were the market-leader in photographic film throughout the 20th century and actually, to their credit, developed the first digital camera in 1975…  Which they then dropped for fear it would damage their core photo-film business.

Lessons to be learned…?

Whilst I fully appreciate modern science casts serious doubts over many of his early theories, I think Darwin’s quote, frequently erroneously cited as; ‘adapt, or die’ is actually perfectly suited to the business world:

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable…  So, the big question for all of us now, especially in the midst (and hopefully soon the wake) of COVID is; do we innovate, or stagnate?

Do we take a good, honest look at our organisations with the express purpose of identifying new challenges we face and opportunities to change and improve, or do we just keep doing the things we’ve always done, in the false hope things will remain as they always have?

The fact is, time marches ever-forward and, if we dig our heels in, we’ll either be dragged along, likely painfully, or we’ll simply be left behind.

So, how does this relate to the threats to your business?

The NCSCs (National Cyber Security Centre) 2020 Cyber Breaches Survey reveals that, in the last 12 months:

  • “Among the 46 per cent of businesses and 26 per cent of charities that have experienced breaches or attacks in the past 12 months, phishing attacks are considered by far the most disruptive types of attack that organisations face.
  • “41 per cent of businesses take a day or more to recover, or say they have not yet recovered at all”
  • “…the most disruptive breaches or attacks were most commonly spotted by staff members.”

Not only are those stats shocking, but UK organisations are still relying far too heavily on staff to report serious breaches (63%), which goes a long way to explaining why, according to a recent IBM report, the average time between breach and detection now stands at around 280 days!

Are you ready to up your cybersecurity game, or are you willing to become a statistic?  What steps do you need to take to ensure that doesn’t happen?

To find out, reach out!

Don’t get hacked…  Get FORTIFIED…!

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