As part of London tradeshow Pure’s (24-26 Jul.) “Brexit Briefing” – one of many seminars held during the three-day event – experts from various disciplines sat down to analyse the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU. Sitting side by side and facing a full house were Chair Keely Stocker, editor of Drapers; Petah Marian, Senior Editor, Retail Intelligence, WGSN; Michael Clarke, Head of content and service DeHavilland and Nick Everitt, Global insights and strategy director, Planet Retail.

Trade negotiations may not yet have begun, but retailers are already experiencing the effects of Brexit. All three experts agreed that uncertainty is behind much of the difficulties seen so far. Michael Clarke pointed out that fresh studies suggest that consumer confidence saw a sharp drop following the leave vote, while the devaluation of sterling has brought on higher costs, putting more pressure on operating profit margins. While much of the seminar centered on the UK’s somewhat gloomy retail outlook, bright rays of hope materialised in the shape of tips and short-term tactics offered by the panel.

Nick Everitt, Global insights and strategy director, Planet Retail:

"The impact of a weaker sterling is not only negative; it makes our exports more cost effective, creating lots of opportunities.

Efficiency is key and make sure to respond quickly to consumer demands. Since we’re not yet sure what the trade deal will be, retailers have to be able to react quicker than ever before. The more successful businesses are those that have the operating structure or business model that allow them to take longer-term, more confident decisions. Retailers that managed to prosper in the last downturn were those able to focus on growing in a difficult climate. Look for opportunities and try to create communities within your store. Trends in retail won’t change so take a long-term view. Perhaps look to accelerate your business with an app or a new site. Be confident, don’t panic and keep investing.

Retailers must be absolutely clear who their customer is and what their value as a retailer is – be it a core offer or something very exciting."

Petah Marian, Senior Editor, Retail Intelligence, WGSN:

"Think about the strategies you had during the financial crisis and how you managed to navigate the environment back then. Use this is as an opportunity to consider every aspect of your business. Look at your costs, not only actual spending but areas such as labour and marketing as well. Figure out how you can save money and where you’re providing value to you customer.

I think the notion of value is very important. Consider the things you can sacrifice margin on and where you might be able to increase it. Also look at, say, white label accessories which customers can’t price compare. Think more broadly about your business and try to be agile, considering short orders and so on."